Nevada Sen. Dean Heller said today that he supports winding down Obamacare's Medicaid expansion over seven years, a stance that's gaining support among moderates worried about the major coverage losses in the House repeal bill.
"We'll continue to speak up and hopefully they'll listen to us," said Heller, considered to be the most vulnerable GOP incumbent up for reelection in 2018.
Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), whose home states also expanded Medicaid, are also pushing a seven-year "glide path" to wind down Obamacare's enhanced federal funding for expansion.
That would provide a more gradual off-ramp than the House's repeal bill, which after 2019 only preserves expansion funds for people continuously enrolled in the program and blocks money for new enrollees. But it's unclear a seven-year phase-out could gain support among conservatives who are pushing to more rapidly rein in spending. It's also considerably longer than a three-year phase-out that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently floated to lawmakers, according to a GOP aide. Some Republicans are expecting the Senate will find a compromise somewhere in the middle.
Heller's home state governor, Republican Brian Sandoval, has been a staunch critic of Congress' effort to roll back expansion. Portman and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) have been trying to strike a compromise that bridges disagreements between Republican moderates who want to keep Medicaid expansion and conservatives who want to eliminate it. Portman previously floated a five-year phase-out.
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