GOP Senators Facing Reelection Have Healthcare Dilemma By Paul Joyce
The fate of the American Healthcare Act in the Senate will likely impact Senators pursuing reelection in 2018, particularly from states that recently expanded Medicaid. Only two of these senators are Republicans, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Dean Heller of Nevada.
Both have expressed skepticism toward the House bill. Senator Flake was among the first to assert that the Senate will work on its own bill, not simply review the House’s and inferred that the CBO score will be a factor in the way he votes.
Senator Heller has gone further in explicitly saying that he could not support the AHCA as it is. “I want to repeal Obamacare in a way that benefits Nevadans,” Heller explained, “but I think that the current bill falls short.” Heller expressed his concern for those with pre-existing conditions and wants to work with leadership to create a bill that provides coverage for more of his constituents.
Senators Flake and Heller find themselves in a precarious position. Flake hails from a perennial red state in Arizona, so failing to support the Senate bill could open him to a primary challenge. Hillary Clinton won Nevada in 2016 and the state has an aging population. Heller’s challenge would come in the general election. Democrats have attempted to link him to the legislation.
However things unfold, Senators Flake and Heller are positioned as potential GOP defectors in the Senate, given the electoral stakes. Both are worth watching closely in the weeks to come.
Paul Joyce is an MPA Candidate at the University of Albany.