Heller amendment voicing support for Medicaid expansion defeated in Senate

Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada (KSNV file)

An amendment introduced by Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nevada, offering support for Medicaid expansion has been defeated in the Senate.

Ninety senators voted against the amendment, which would have stated that Medicaid expansion is a priority and that "Obamacare must be improved."

Only Heller and nine other Republican senators, including Rob Portman of Ohio and John McCain of Arizona, voted in favor of the amendment to the American Health Care Act.

Heller has become a key figure in the ongoing debate over health care legislation. He voted Tuesday in favor of opening debate on possibly repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. The motion to proceed needed Vice President Mike Pence's vote to break a 50-50 tie.

However, he voted with 54 other Senators on Wednesday against a proposal that would throw out major portions of the ACA without any replacement.

"My amendment reinforces the important role Medicaid has played in my home state and in the states of many of my colleagues here today," Heller said on the floor of the Senate.

William McCurdy II, chairman of the Nevada Democratic Party, called Heller's amendment "disingenuous political posturing" in a statement released Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of governors, including Gov. Brian Sandoval, signed onto a letter sent to Sens. Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer asking for cooperation on health care legislation between Republicans and Democrats.

The letter, released by Schumer's communications director via Twitter, objects to the current health care bill and a "skinny repeal" of Obamacare, arguing it would leave many Americans without health care coverage.

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that repealing "Obamacare" without replacing it would cost more than 30 million Americans their insurance coverage.

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