Author’s note: This blog has been updated with a comment from Gov. Brian Sandoval’s office.
If there was any doubt remaining — after months of critical emails from Democratic groups — that Nevada’s senior senator, Dean Heller, is in for the fight of his political life in 2018, state Democrats on Monday moved to erase it.
In a small news conference at their new headquarters offices, party chairman Assemblyman William McCurdy II, D-Las Vegas, and state Sen. Pat Spearman, D-North Las Vegas, condemned Heller for his comments last week endorsing an end to expanded Medicaid funding for states seven years from now.
“I don’t care what timeline it’s on, getting rid of federal funding for Medicaid expansion will hurt Nevadans and take away health care for hundreds of thousands of people,” McCurdy said. “And it’s unacceptable.” (In fact, 203,900 people are in Medicaid in Nevada thanks to the expansion of the program, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.)
“Health care should be a right, not a privilege,” Spearman said. “Unfortunately for us, Dean Heller is out of touch. He’s out of touch with the progress that we’re trying to make.”
She added: “Dean Heller, we’re calling you out, because we cannot, and we will not, go back to a time when less Nevadans had access to affordable health care.”
The news conference came in reaction to a story in The Hill newspaper last week in which Heller told a reporter that he was pushing for a seven-year phase out of federal funds for the expanded Medicaid program in the Senate’s version of the health-care repeal bill.