Las Vegas Sun

December 1, 2023

Top Nevada Democrats urge GOP to put health care above court politics


Tom Williams / AP

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett removes her facemask as she arrives for the second day of her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020.

A panel of Nevada lawmakers and health care advocates issued a scathing rebuke Tuesday of President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and continued attempts to cripple the Affordable Care Act while urging citizens to vote for representatives who will fight for expanded access to health care.

“Health care was a very big issue in 2018, politically,” Democratic Rep. Dina Titus said on the Nevada stop on the nationwide virtual “bus tour” for Protect Our Care’s “Your Health, Your Vote” campaign. “It is on the ballot again.”

Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen brought statistics: 200,000 Nevadans got coverage through expanded Medicaid, 77,000 through the Nevada Health Link marketplace and 19,000 young adults through their parents’ insurance plans.

Seventeen thousand emails filled her inbox the week of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Sept. 18 death expressing concerns about a forthcoming decision on a federal lawsuit to strike down the ACA without the liberal titan on the bench.

And of roughly 3 million Nevada residents, about 1.2 million have a preexisting condition — not counting the people who have contracted, or will catch, COVID-19.

“They will be labeled (as) having a preexisting condition. We can’t exclude them from getting coverage,” Rosen said. “We don’t even know what kind of repercussions COVID is going to have for any of us in the short term or in the long term.”

Raquel Cruz-Juarez, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, said the defeat of Republican incumbent Sen. Dean Heller in 2018 shows how important health care is to Nevadans who “just want the dignity to live healthy with their family regardless of where they come from or who they are.”

“These repeated attacks on the ACA are deeply felt now as the government’s lack of response to the COVID-19 pandemic is impeded by the yearslong effort of this administration to cut and gut our public infrastructure, which includes the ACA,” Cruz-Juarez said.

Democratic Rep. Susie Lee called on the administration to drop the lawsuit and for the Republican-controlled Senate to refocus its energy on more COVID-19 relief instead of accelerated hearings to place conservative Amy Coney Barrett in Ginsburg’s seat.

Lee, who is running for reelection, called the Coney Barrett hearings at the expense of relief a “tragic” and "disgraceful” statement on the Senate’s priorities.

Tuesday was also the second day of Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearings, where she refused to comment on her views about hot-button issues likely to come before the high court. That includes a Republican-led lawsuit to overturn the 2010 ACA, which will be heard a week after the election.

Coney Barrett has previously criticized the health care law, and Democrats expect that she would be the final vote needed to invalidate it.

Nevada Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto said health care is the issue of the moment for voters.

“Why are we still fighting to ensure somebody has access to health care, particularly in the middle of a … pandemic,” Cortez Masto said. “But it’s happening because this administration continues down the path of wanting to take it away. They’ve been there for almost four years now and do not have a plan to replace it. Even though they claim they do, there is no plan to replace health care in this country if they take away the Affordable Care Act.”

Laura Martin, executive director of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, said there isn’t much else voters can do in the face of an adverse Supreme Court ruling but hold the Democratic majority in the House and reclaim it in the Senate.

“It’s just distressing that we are in this position where there are thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people who are getting this illness because our president is such a buffoon,” she said.