The Latest: Nevada's Heller opposes GOP health bill

Markets Associated Press

The Latest on the Senate GOP health care bill (all times EDT):

Continue Reading Below

8:45 p.m.

Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller says he opposes the GOP bill scuttling much of the Obama health care law, complicating the effort by party leaders to guide the measure through the Senate.

Heller is the fifth GOP senator to declare his opposition.

He faces a difficult re-election fight next year. He said Friday he would vote against the bill in its current form but did not rule out supporting a revamped, final version of it.

The Senate measure would make major cuts in the Medicaid program for poor and disabled people.

Continue Reading Below

Facing unanimous Democratic opposition, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell must get yes votes from 50 of the 52 GOP senators to avoid a defeat.

___

5:20 p.m.

A health insurance industry trade group says it's encouraged by provisions of the Senate GOP health care bill, but stopped short of voicing support.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association represents plans that are the backbone of HealthCare.gov and state health insurance markets created under former President Barack Obama's law.

The group said in a statement Friday it's encouraged that the Senate bill would take immediate action to stabilize shaky insurance markets by guaranteeing billions of dollars in subsidies under jeopardy due to a legal dispute and political maneuvering. The subsidies help reduce deductibles and copayments for people with modest incomes.

The Senate bill would make the payments through 2019, but then cut them off.

___

5:05 p.m.

A Republican senator up for re-election next year just got some bad news about the Senate GOP health care bill.

Sen. Jeff Flake's home state of Arizona could lose at least $7.1 billion through 2026 under the Senate proposal to roll back former President Barack Obama's health care law. The estimate was released Friday by Arizona's Medicaid agency, which analyzed the effects of the legislation on the state health insurance program for low-income people.

Arizona's Republican Gov. Doug Ducey said Friday the Senate GOP bill falls short of what his state needs.

Flake is politically popular but faces a primary challenge from a conservative. Neither he nor fellow Arizona Sen. John McCain has said how he will vote.

___

3:50 p.m.

Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst is suggesting Iowans would not be losing Medicaid coverage even as the Senate GOP health care bill would phase out financing to expand the low-income insurance program.

The Republican senator told reporters Friday, "I wouldn't say they are losing it." She was asked about the bill's impact on lower-income Iowans now covered by Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

The GOP-controlled Senate bill introduced Thursday would phase out federal money to states which opted to expand the low-income health insurance program. Iowa opted to expand, and has added more than 150,000 people to its rolls since 2014.

Ernst declined to comment on any other provisions during a news conference at the Iowa Capitol, saying, "We have 142 pages to go through."

___

3:45 a.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has finally unwrapped his plan for dismantling President Barack Obama's health care law.

Now he's facing his next challenge — persuading enough Republicans to back the measure.

Passage would move President Donald Trump and the GOP closer to one of their marquee pledges — erasing Obama's 2010 statute. But a defeat would be a bitter and damaging blow to Trump and his party.

McConnell drafted the measure after spending weeks seeking middle ground between conservatives seeking an aggressive repeal of Obama's statute and centrists warning about going too far.

The bill would cut and redesign the Medicaid program for low-income and disabled people. It would erase taxes on higher earners and the medical industry that helped Obama's law expand coverage by roughly 20 million Americans.