Republican Senator Dean Heller and Democratic Congresswoman Jacky Rosen traded barbs in their first and only debate. KUNR’s Anh Gray reports health care took center stage.
The first question posed to the candidates addressed health care and whether there should be protections in place for people with pre-existing conditions. Off the bat, Heller was quick to remind voters that he supported some of Governor Brian Sandoval’s health care efforts including the state’s Medicaid expansion.
“We talked about the various issues we think are the important ones,” Heller said, “pre-existing conditions should be part of any health care bill.”
Rosen called Heller out for voting to pass the tax reform bill in December that helped to roll back the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by nixing the individual mandate.
“And we need to be sure, number one, Rosen said, “that we protect those pre-existing conditions that Senator Heller and his colleagues want to slash.”
Toward the end of the debate, Rosen goaded Heller to look into the camera and to explain to a Reno family who he met why he voted against the ACA and “broke” his health care promise.
“There’s a woman there, her name is Teresa Bohannan,” Rosen said, “she has a son, his name happens to be Dean, he was born with a congenital heart defect. He’s going to have a pre-existing condition his whole life. He’s going to need surgeries and care.”
Heller defended his stance.
“I have two grandchildren with pre-existing conditions,” Heller explained. “I think it's ridiculous, Congresswoman, that you think that I wouldn't be there for the health and safety of my own grandchildren.”
Currently there is a GOP-led lawsuit involving 20 states that threatens to undo the ACA and the protections in place by alleging the ACA is unconstitutional. In response to that lawsuit, Heller said that he helped draft a Republican bill that includes protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
Rosen said that she signed on to a House resolution to defend the constitutionality of the ACA’s pre-existing conditions provisions.