Thursday on KNPR’s State of Nevada, Senator Harry Reid, D-Nev., commended the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on the Affordable Care Act – “people simply don’t understand how good it is” - and revealed the Democrats’ strategy for addressing Republican challenges to the law.
“We’re responding as follows: Its probably one of the most important things we’ve done for our country. It’s not good that we have 40 million Americans without health insurance, driving up the cost of my insurance policy and everyone that’s listening to this program,” said Reid. “It drives up the cost of welfare, it drives up the cost of hospital and doctor bills, because people are seeking care in places where they shouldn’t, namely emergency rooms, which is the most expensive care there is.”
The Affordable Care Act is likely to be a campaign talking point in between now and the November elections. The US House is scheduled to vote again on whether to repeal the law on July 11.
Previous votes have passed the US House, but have gone nowhere in the US Senate. But recently, Nevada Congressman Joe Heck, R-Nev., recently told the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce he expects more Congressional Democrats to vote for the law’s repeal.
Reid said a significant defection was unlikely.
“What is ‘some?’ Two? That is ridiculous, that is a gesture in futility and that is what the Tea Party-driven house has been doing now for a year and a half. These endless votes that mean nothing.”
While the Affordable Care Act will generate much political argument this year, Reid says it will not change balance in the United States Senate.
Reid also responded to Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval’s announcement that the state would not automatically expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The law sought to force states to extend Medicaid to all adults and children earning up to 133 percent of average income. The court said the federal government could not coerce states. In an interview on Nevada NewsMakers last Thursday Sandoval said the annual cost would rise to $100 million, which the state could not afford.
Reid rejects Sandoval’s arguments.
“They would be foolish not to get this money. It’s 100 percent reimbursement for the first few years. One hundred percent. And also it will drive down the cost of health care, because these poor people are some of these people who are driving up the cost of healthcare for everybody. And once this Medicare provision goes into effect they won’t need to do that. (After the first few years) the program is set up so that the states will have the ability to be covered.”
Asked about Republican Sen. Dean Heller’s “No Budget, No Pay” bill – in which the Nevada senator proposes that Congress shouldn’t get paid until they pass a budget – Reid responded, “You know what I think of that bill? I think it’s stupid. What does this mean? First of all, we have a budget right now. It passed last year, the first of August. We have a budget. It’s law. We have our numbers set for this year. I like Dean Heller, I like him very much, but he’s off on a tangent that is just so ridiculous.”
Reid also briefly talked about the nuclear waste storage site, Yucca Mountain. Although Republicans in the House have tried to generate funding for Yucca Mountain, and many Democrats seem to support reopening it, Reid says the site is likely to remain closed for the foreseeable future.
“As long as I’m still here and Obama’s around, there’s not a chance that it will happen. It’s closed. There’s a big fence around it now. Even today in the New York Times there is an editorial about this. And they say what is the law and what should happen. Yucca Mountain is history; it’s never going to happen.”
Congress has rushed to finish work this term - student loans, the transportation bill and others were finished just before the July 4th break. And, of course, the United States Supreme Court has upheld most of the health care reform law. Nevada's senior senator joins us to discuss the issues and answer your questions. Call us at 258-3552 or post a question at knprtalk.org.