Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) defended his record on ObamaCare repeal on Wednesday, telling voters he had helped save Medicaid from cuts in a Senate bill.
“There’s only one reason why Medicaid was kept in that final version and that’s because of me,” Heller said at a talk in Las Vegas, according to the Nevada Independent.
“It was because of me and my efforts that we were able to protect low-income families in this state with the Medicaid expansion.”
Heller, who is one the Senate’s most vulnerable Republicans in the 2018 midterms, initially came out against a Senate ObamaCare repeal bill in June, raising concerns about Medicaid.
But last month he voted to open debate on a revised repeal bill. He voted no on two ObamaCare repeal proposals, before backing a so-called “skinny” repeal measure, that included more protections for Medicaid. That measure, though, also fell short in the Senate.
On Wednesday, Heller cited Congressional Budget Office projections that 16 million would have lost insurance over the next ten years under the skinny bill.
“The 16 million people who will lose health care over the next 10 years are 16 million people that do not want to buy this product,” he said.
Heller said one reason he backed the skinny repeal bill was because it would eliminate the ObamaCare insurance mandate.
“The individual mandate I thought was atrocious, was wrong and shouldn’t have been in Obamacare at all,” he said. “I don’t think your government should tell you to buy something that you can’t afford. And if you can’t afford it you pay a fine. Yet 90,000 Nevadans pay the fine.”
Heller talked up an amendment he authored with Sens. Lindsey Graham(R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) that would give states more leeway on how they used Medicaid funds.
“I think ultimately the states should decide what their health care should look like,” Heller added.
Despite the ObamaCare repeal effort falling short, Heller earlier this month said he hopes Republicans take up the issue again and find enough votes.
“Once we have 50 votes, healthcare will come up again,” he told a local news network. “And so if you hear Washington, D.C., talking about healthcare, it’s because we found that 50th vote, and I hope we do. No one was more disappointed than myself.”