Illustrating the challenge of finding an Obamacare overhaul that will appeal to enough Republicans to secure Senate passage, Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., announced Friday that he will oppose the Bill Senate Republicans unveiled Thursday.
Heller becomes the fifth Republican to oppose the plan. Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mike Lee of Utah and Ted Cruz of Texas already announced their disdain for the proposal.
“There are provisions in this draft that represent an improvement to our current Health care system, but it does not appear this draft as written will accomplish the most important promise that we made to Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their health care costs,” the four conservative senators said Thursday in a joint statement.
Heller objected to the bill on different grounds.
“You have to protect Medicaid expansion states. That’s what I want,” he said.
“This bill would mean a loss of coverage for millions of Americans,” said Heller, who predicted the Senate GOP bill would not lower premiums.
Heller also criticized a new cap on overall Medicaid spending and waivers that would allow states to repeal some Obamacare provisions. Those facets of the bill, though, are essential to attract conservative support.
Heller said he could support the bill if changes were made.
“Both Republicans and Democrats can agree the (Affordable Care Act) does need some fixes,” he said.
However, he also said he understood that changes moderates want will be abhorred by conservatives.
“I can see the other side’s going to have problems” if Medicaid expansion is preserved, he said, citing “the Ted Cruz’s and Mike Lee’s and some of them.”
The difference between conservatives and moderates were noted by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah., in assessing whether the bill could move through the Senate as fast as its supporters want.
“It’ll be hard to pass the bill — lot of differing points of view — and one week may not be enough time,” Hatch told CNN. “It’s a real problem,” he added.
Heller has been a critic of Obamacare. In 2011, he issued a statement denouncing the Affordable Care Act.
“As Obamacare is implemented it is becoming increasingly clear how flawed this law really is. Not only did it cut a half trillion dollars from Medicare impacting thousands of Nevada’s seniors, now the law would have driven health insurers out of our state if a reprieve had not been granted. It is clear that the unique health care needs of individual states were not taken into consideration, and this is why Obamacare will not work for Nevada. This DC bureaucrat-driven health care system will only result in limited health care choices and higher costs for Nevadans,” he said at the time.