Heller says he helped save Medicaid in ObamaCare repeal bill

Heller says he helped save Medicaid in ObamaCare repeal bill
© Greg Nash

Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerLobbying World Democrats spend big to put Senate in play This week: Barr back in hot seat over Mueller report MORE (R-Nev.) defended his record on ObamaCare repeal on Wednesday, telling voters he had helped save Medicaid from cuts in a Senate bill.

“There’s only one reason why Medicaid was kept in that final version and that’s because of me,” Heller said at a talk in Las Vegas, according to the Nevada Independent

“It was because of me and my efforts that we were able to protect low-income families in this state with the Medicaid expansion.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Heller, who is one the Senate’s most vulnerable Republicans in the 2018 midterms, initially came out against a Senate ObamaCare repeal bill in June, raising concerns about Medicaid.

But last month he voted to open debate on a revised repeal bill. He voted no on two ObamaCare repeal proposals, before backing a so-called “skinny” repeal measure, that included more protections for Medicaid. That measure, though, also fell short in the Senate.

On Wednesday, Heller cited Congressional Budget Office projections that 16 million would have lost insurance over the next ten years under the skinny bill.

“The 16 million people who will lose health care over the next 10 years are 16 million people that do not want to buy this product,” he said. 

Heller said one reason he backed the skinny repeal bill was because it would eliminate the ObamaCare insurance mandate.

“The individual mandate I thought was atrocious, was wrong and shouldn’t have been in Obamacare at all,” he said. “I don’t think your government should tell you to buy something that you can’t afford. And if you can’t afford it you pay a fine. Yet 90,000 Nevadans pay the fine.”

Heller talked up an amendment he authored with Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenator-jurors who may not be impartial? Remove them for cause Broad, bipartisan rebuke for proposal to pull troops from Africa What to watch for as Senate organizes impeachment on day one MORE (R-S.C.) and Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyBig Pharma looks to stem losses after trade deal defeat Trump trade deal faces uncertain Senate timeline On The Money: Senate panel advances Trump's new NAFTA despite GOP gripes | Trade deficit falls to three-year low | Senate confirms Trump pick for small business chief MORE (R-La.) that would give states more leeway on how they used Medicaid funds.

“I think ultimately the states should decide what their health care should look like,” Heller added.

Despite the ObamaCare repeal effort falling short, Heller earlier this month said he hopes Republicans take up the issue again and find enough votes. 

“Once we have 50 votes, healthcare will come up again,” he told a local news network. “And so if you hear Washington, D.C., talking about healthcare, it’s because we found that 50th vote, and I hope we do. No one was more disappointed than myself.”