Monday, Nov. 23, 2009 | 12:08 p.m.
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WASHINGTON -- Former Republican Gov. Robert List said today that the nearly 500,000 uninsured Nevadans do not lack health care because they can receive public hospital and emergency room treatment in the state.
"I think it’s incorrect to say these people don’t have health care," List said during a conference call arranged by the Republican National Committee. "The public hospital treats anybody who walks in the door, in the emergency room, or claims an emergency or they need health care. So it’s a misnomer to say these people are without health care. They may be without insurance, many of them are."
List said the Senate health care bill engineered by Majority Leader Harry Reid and advanced by the Senate over the weekend is one that will cost the Nevada senator his re-election in 2010.
"It's the wrong direction for the country and the wrong direction for Nevada, and Harry Reid is going to pay the price next year," said the former governor, who is now an official with the Nevada Republican Party. "This is a clear abuse of power that Nevadans are not going to tolerate."
List predicted that as Republicans begin offering amendments once the Senate resumes debate after the Thanksgiving break, Democratic support for the bill will wane, leaving Reid without the 60-vote majority needed for approval.
The former governor called the 2,074-page bill "so excessive, so liberal, so radical." He said that Nevadans would support a more incremental approach to health care reform that includes some elements of the Democratic plan, such as the prohibition on insurance companies denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, but drops others, such as the proposed public option and penalties on those who do not carry insurance or businesses that fail to offer it.
Health experts have said that treating patients in emergency rooms is more costly than routine medical care, and studies have shown that caring for the uninsured increases the costs of private health care premiums and taxes.