Cortez Masto: ACA is here to stay

Catherine Cortez Masto (Photo courtesy of Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

“We're going to keep the Affordable Care Act, we're not going to repeal it,” said Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nevada.

That's the assessment from someone on the other side of the Senate aisle.

Unlike 2010, Democrats this time are the observers, watching the GOP Senate effort struggle.

So far, it's dead-in-the-water, stalled by senators like Nevada Sen. Dean Heller, one of the Republicans who put the brakes on “repeal and replace.” Heller, along with his fellow Republican, Governor Brian Sandoval, says the Republican plan, with its rollback of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, could take health care away from more than 200,000 Nevadans.

Cortez Masto, who spoke to News 3 from Washington, has a simple health care starting point: “We don’t start with repealing it,” she says.

The Affordable Care Act’s immediate problem is insurers are pulling out of exchanges and premiums are rising, while the insurance industry watches Washington and wonders where Republican health care reform is headed.

“How we stabilize it is we continue the cost-sharing subsidies,” Cortez Masto says. “I, along with my colleague (Sen.) Jean Shaheen (D-NH) introduced legislation to do just that – to insure that those cost-sharing subsidies stay in place so we’re keeping the premiums low and we’re stabilizing the market.”

In Nevada, insurance company Anthem pulled out of the state’s 14 rural counties, leaving nearly 8,000 Nevadans potentially unable to buy insurance on the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange. As a temporary fix, Cortez Masto says those residents should be able to buy the same health insurance she gets, purchasing policies on the federal health insurance exchange.

What happens to health care figures to loom large in Nevada’s 2018 race for Senate, where Republican Dean Heller is running for reelection in a state Hillary Clinton won. Democrats think he’s vulnerable.

Even President Trump took a jab at Heller Wednesday at the White House. The President invited Republican senators for lunch, telling them to get back to work on a health care bill. Seated next to him was Heller.

“Look, he wants to remain a senator, doesn’t he?” Trump joked, as if Heller needed a reminder 2018 could be a tough race.

Cortez Masto is backing freshman Congresswoman Jacky Rosen for Senate, setting up a potential primary with veteran Democrat, Rep. Dina Titus.

Why Rosen, I asked?

“She is passionate, she cares, she is a hard worker, she's been in the community talking to families and individuals and bringing their voices back here to Washington,” Cortez Masto told News 3.

On immigration, Cortez Masto says she's supporting a new bi-partisan bill to protect "Dreamers" -- young people brought here illegally by their parents. They were shielded from deportation by the Obama Administration, but President Trump has not given definitive guidance on their future now.

“He says one thing, and his actions are another. I hope he does the right thing here,” said the Senator, who says it’s time for an immigration solution.

“Just by passing comprehensive immigration reform we contribute to our economy,” Cortez Masto says.

Our conversation came the day after news shook Washington that Arizona Senator John McCain, a Republican, has been diagnosed with a very malignant form of brain cancer – the same type that killed Senator Ted Kennedy, D-Massachusetts in 2009.

“Our hearts go out to Senator McCain and his family,” Cortez Masto said. “I will tell you, I still get a little tongue-tied when I have to be in conversations with him, or talk with him because he is such an iconic individual and what he has done and his service to his country."

McCain served in the Navy during Vietnam and survived torture as a prisoner of war. He gained his freedom in 1973 and entered politics in 1982.

Finally, we talked the day the eyes of the nation were focused on a prison in rural Nevada. O.J. Simpson was granted parole for the now-infamous 2007 armed robbery at Palace Station.

The crime and conviction happened on her watch as Nevada’s Attorney General.

“I worked with members of our parole board. I have every faith and confidence in their decision and their decision-making process,” Cortez Masto said.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off