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NV Health Advocates Slam Latest GOP Plan to Repeal ACA

Cancer survivor Laura Packard speaks to reporters on Wednesday in Las Vegas.(Juan Ortega)
Cancer survivor Laura Packard speaks to reporters on Wednesday in Las Vegas.(Juan Ortega)
September 14, 2017

LAS VEGAS — Health care advocates in Nevada are speaking out against the latest Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act that was unveiled on Wednesday, saying the block grants it proposes would force massive cuts in Medicaid.

The Graham-Cassidy bill would cap what is currently an open-ended benefit - which would be likely to force the state to eliminate health coverage for many of its poorest residents.

Laura Packard from Enterprise is battling stage-four lymphoma. She said the treatment she has accessed through the ACA has saved her life.

"As somebody with a pre-existing condition, this is frightening. They have been coming after my health care all this year,” Packard said. "Every time that I think I can finally sleep at night, they come out with another terrible bill - because my Affordable Care Act policy is what's keeping me alive."

Sen. Dean Heller is a co-sponsor of the GOP plan. He said it gives states more discretion on health spending and lifts the government mandate to buy insurance.

Also on Wednesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders unveiled an alternative plan - for a single-payer system that would cover everyone and cut out insurance companies.

Amanda Khan, economic justice organizer with the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, said she supports the idea of government-run health care.

"Until we have Medicare for all and a single-payer system, we do not support any type of repeal for the Affordable Care Act,” Khan said. "We worked so hard to get the health care that we do have. We want to work to make it more accessible, not to take it away."

Joe Merlino from North Las Vegas has successfully beaten back a tumor on his larynx thanks to Medicaid, so he opposes any cuts to the program.

"With Heller and Trump repeatedly trying to take this away, all they're doing is giving more insecurity to the insurance companies, more insecurity to people that rely on the ACA and Medicaid,” Merlino said. "They're not helping anyone except for the millionaires and billionaires that they want to just give those tax cuts to."

The Graham-Cassidy bill would have to get a vote by September 30, which is the deadline for bills that only need a simple majority to pass under budget reconciliation rules.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - NV