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Heller a 'No' on Senate's Obamacare replacement bill

Heller a 'No' on senate's Obamacare replacement bill. 6/23/17 (Jeff Gillan | KSNV)

The reason a Governor and a Senator walked up to a podium Friday, was a young man who was walking with me five stories below at Las Vegas' State Office Building.

25-year-old Armin Garcia, a cancer survivor, is one of the 210 thousand Nevadans who got health insurance through Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.

“Medicaid saves a lot of lives - it saved my life - and I know there's a lot of people out there who are not doing as well as I am and need to survive,” Garcia told me.

Thursday, Senate Republicans unveiled their Obamacare replacement, which curtails Medicaid - the program that covers the poor and the needy.

So, on the top floor of Grant Sawyer, the Governor, and Nevada’s senior US Senator faced the cameras.

‘We're going to talk a little bit about health care,” said Governor Brian Sandoval.

Nevada's top two Republicans skewered what came out of Washington. Heller, facing a tough reelection, made his position clear.

“This bill that's currently in front of the US Senate is not the answer. It's simply not the answer. I'm announcing today that in this form I will not support it,” he told reporters.

Heller becomes the fifth Republican US Senator to say "no." His leader, Mitch McConnell, can only afford to lose two.

Sandoval was the first Republican Governor in the country to sign on to Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion five-years-ago.

He says it lowered our uninsured rate from 23 percent to about 11. The rate of uninsured children went from 18 percent....to eight.

The Governor says the Senate bill’s Medicaid cuts, when they fully kick in, would cost our state almost 500 million dollars a year.

“Frankly, our state is doing well, but if that was today, we couldn't do it,” Sandoval said.

“It doesn't protect Nevadans on Medicaid and the most vulnerable Nevadans,” said Heller, adding, “I’m telling you right now I cannot support a piece of legislation that takes insurance away from tens of millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Nevadans.”

Early next week, the Non-Partisan Congressional Budget Office is expected to release its assessment of the bill, called a “CBO score.” When it reviewed the House Repeal Measure, it said 23 million Americans would lose coverage.

Both the Governor and the Senator came to the podium with copies of the bill.

“I obviously have monitored what happened in the house,” said the Governor, who bent down and picked up his copy of the Senate proposal. “Got this yesterday,” he said, displaying annoyance over the speed with which the process seems to be occurring. “yesterday.”

Sandoval said he was in frequent communication with the Trump Administration. “I want to compliment Senator Heller,” Sandoval said. “He’s in the eye of the storm here.”

Both Sandoval and Heller say they hope the bill is improved. Republican leader Mitch McConnell wants to pass something out of his chamber by July 4.

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