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Nevada's GOP governor breaks with Heller on Medicaid expansion

Nevada's GOP governor breaks with Heller on Medicaid expansion

Nevada's Republican governor, Brian Sandoval, is breaking with Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerDems outraising Republicans in final stretch of midterms The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Pollsters: White college-educated women to decide if Dems capture House Obama to speak at campaign rally for Nevada Dems MORE (R-Nev.) and calling for ObamaCare's Medicaid expansion to be preserved. 

Heller, who could be a key vote on the healthcare bill and is up for reelection next year, said last week that he supports a seven-year phase-out of the additional federal funding for Medicaid expansion.

But Sandoval appeared to reject that idea, instead saying he wants to keep the system the way it is, without any phaseout. 

“I think the House bill has a two-year ramp, I’ve heard seven, I’ve heard five," Sandoval told reporters Tuesday, according to The Nevada Independent. "Obviously my preference is that it stay the way it is, that has always been something that I’ve spoken for and fought for on behalf of the newly eligibles." 

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Sandoval defended the Medicaid expansion, which he said has provided coverage for over 200,000 people in Nevada. 

“It’s working — we have brought down our uninsured rate," he said. "We were one of the worst if not the worst in the country, to being one of the most improved rates in that regard.” 

Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanElection Countdown: O'Rourke brings in massive M haul | Deal on judges lets senators return to the trail | Hurricane puts Florida candidates in the spotlight | Adelson spending big to save GOP in midterms How Kavanaugh got the votes  Collins to support Kavanaugh, securing enough votes for confirmation MORE (R-Ohio) is also backing a seven-year phase-out of the Medicaid expansion funds. 

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) who has also defended Medicaid expansion in the past, has taken a softer line than Sandoval, saying he is open to phasing out the federal funding if it comes with enough "flexibility."

It is possible some states could keep the Medicaid expansion even without the extra federal funds, but it would mean states would have to pour in more of their own money, which could prove difficult. 

Heller said last week that he wants to listen to Sandoval about Medicaid, so it is possible the governor's new comments could have an effect. 

"I want to make sure the governor's okay with some of the changes we make," Heller said. "It's one thing for me to sit back here and legislate it's another thing for the governor to have to run the program."