One of the major key players in whether or not the Senate GOP Trumpcare bill can pass the upper chamber isn't actually a senator at all, but Nevada's GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval. Sandoval controls what GOP Sen. Dean Heller is going to do as far as voting for this bill, and Sandoval, like Ohio's GOP Gov. John Kasich, has no illusions as to how rotten Trumpcare is going to be for his state.
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval said a closed-door breakfast meeting on Saturday between Trump Administration officials and a large number of governors hasn’t changed his position on the Senate health bill — that it’s a cause for concern.
The Republican governor, whose opinions on health care policy have a major influence on swing voting Republican Sen. Dean Heller, said he plans to make a decision on his final stance next week and hopes to talk with Heller on Sunday or Monday. But he said he’s trying to reconcile conflicting analyses — including the Congressional Budget Office’s projection that the immediately preceding bill would have left 22 million more people uninsured, and the administration’s contention that nobody would lose access to care.
“What’s difficult is there’s a lot of dispute about the veracity of those numbers,” Sandoval told reporters in an interview at the National Governors Association meeting in Rhode Island. “As a governor, it’s incumbent on me to sort that out.”
Sandoval said the Trump Administration hasn’t offered him benefits unrelated to health care — such as concessions on the Yucca Mountain relicensing process that Nevada is fighting and the administration is pushing — in exchange for support of the health bill. But he said he didn’t support such a trade.
“Those are two separate issues that I won’t conflate under any circumstances,” he said.
Democratic governors were more blunt about the discussion, which featured Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma. Connecticut Gov. Dan Molloy, who chairs the Democratic Governors Association, said the administrators kept touting “innovation” as the solution to health care problems.
But he said they were unable to explain how innovation would compensate for reduced funding. The mood grew tense, he said, mostly out of a “frustration with being lied to.”
“They’re going to shift a massive amount of responsibility to the states without the support necessary to do that,” he said, adding that it would be the states that have to do the dirty work of paring down their Medicaid rolls.
I've been saying this for months now: the GOP Congress's plan is to dump all the blame for having to throw millions off Medicaid on to state governors and say "Well, we reformed Medicaid like you asked. State governors like you authorized and took credit for Medicaid expansion, you can take the blame for rolling that back. We told you seven years ago that we thought the expansion was unsustainable, and here we are."
Sandoval meanwhile clearly doesn't like getting hung out to dry like this, and I suspect he's far from the only GOP governor who secretly hates Mitch McConnell for screwing him over this badly. I feel like that the aforementioned John Kasich is similarly in the same position, and that GOP Sen. Rob Portman is going to bail on it as well. Mike Pence is outright lying about red states that have accepted Medicaid expansion and the governors of those states like Kasich are pissed.
In his speech, Pence also said Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid put “far too many able-bodied adults” on the program.
“I know Governor Kasich isn’t with us, but I suspect that he’s very troubled to know that in Ohio alone, nearly 60,000 disabled citizens are stuck on waiting lists, leaving them without the care they need for months or even years,” said Pence.
The waiting lists Pence referred to apply to Medicaid’s home and community-based services, and have not been affected by the program’s expansion under the ACA. States have long had waiting lists for these services, and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation’s executive vice president, Diane Rowland, noted that waiting lists in non-expansion states are often longer than in expansion states, which currently receive a 95 percent federal match for their newly covered beneficiaries.
Kasich spokesman Jon Keeling said in an interview that Pence’s suggestion that 60,000 disabled Ohioans remain on waiting lists “is not accurate,” adding that to suggest Medicaid expansion hurt the state’s developmentally disabled “system is false, as it is just the opposite of what actually happened.”
“That waiting list is nothing new, and to attribute it to expansion is absurd,” said Families USA’s senior director of health policy, Eliot Fishman.
Pence has declared war on red state governors who took the expansion, and that fight is not going to be one that he wins.
[UPDATE] And with Sen. John McCain scheduling surgery next week and "missing the vote" along with Wisconsin GOP Sen. Ron Johnson coming out against the bill, Mitch McConnell has now pulled the vote for Trumpcare again.
This is starting to look like ballgame, guys. Keep the pressure up.