Nevada GOP Leaders Split On Healthcare Reform Bill

Sep 21, 2017


The latest bill to dismantle the Affordable Care Act would change how Nevada gets healthcare funding. Reno Public Radio’s Anh Gray has the details.

A key provision in the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson bill would replace the tax credits and subsidies states get under the ACA with block grants. Supporters, including co-sponsor Senator Dean Heller, say that this type of funding provides more autonomy and flexibility.

Chuck Duarte heads up Community Health Alliance in Reno. He’s critical of the bill saying block grants allocated to states are capped and this limitation could put states in a tough position.

“It means that somebody has to win and somebody has to lose," Duarte explains. "And so are the winners going to be kids, or are they going to be seniors or people with disabilities? And who are the losers going to be?”

Critics also say that block grants don’t take into account fluctuations in the economy like inflation, or even changes in population.

If passed, block grants would last until 2026. John Packham is a Nevada health care policy expert and says this could create a shortfall.

“It will force some pretty drastic cuts in Medicaid; it will upend progress we’ve made on the private exchange," Packham says. "Despite all of their shortcomings, we’ve seen coverage over the last four years that we’d hate to see reversed by Graham-Cassidy.”

Speaking with KTVN Channel 2, Heller explained his support at a press conference.

“It returns power to the state," Heller says. "It provides ultimate flexibility to governors and legislators regardless of whether they expanded Medicaid or not.”

But, Governor Brian Sandoval joined a group of bipartisan governors in opposing this latest GOP effort. He’s asking lawmakers to take a more bipartisan approach to healthcare reform that includes hearings in health committees with input from stakeholders.