Nearly 370,000 Nevadans could lose their health coverage by 2019 under a plan passed by the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday.
Under the proposed American Health Care Act, Nevada could see drastic changes especially to the number of people covered under the state’s Medicaid program.
"They can't get in to see, unless they can pay for it, primary care provider," says Chuck Duarte who runs the Community Health Alliance, a federally qualified health center that provides medical, dental and psychological care for thousands of residents in Northern Nevada.
"They can't get in to see a specialist without having to pay. They won't be able to go into hospitals without huge co-pays. Their only access, in some cases, will be the emergency department. So for all of us, we'll all end up paying for it because the cost of care throughout the system will go up because people will be accessing the wrong types of care at the wrong time."
Of Nevada’s four members of the House, the three Democrats voted against the bill, with Republican Mark Amodei of the 2nd District voting in favor of the AHCA. His support came after months of opposition to the measure.
In a statement, Amodei told voters he changed his mind after he learned that the bill would "make no changes in current enrollee eligibility and will likely increase federal funding to Nevada’s traditional Medicaid program."
That analysis has not been fully vetted since the measure never received an examination by the Congressional Budget Office.
But for Duarte, and many others, Amodei’s turnaround comes as a bit of a shock.
"You know, this is particularly disappointing for me because I met with Congressman Amodei three times in April, last month--once in Washington and twice in his offices here. Each time he told me to my face that he was going to vote no on this bill because of the Medicaid provisions. Well, guess what, he changed his mind and the language in the bill has not changed materially since the time we met with him. So I don't know what he’s saying in terms of new language and new protections. I don't see it."
The measure will now head to the U.S. Senate where Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto and Republican Dean Heller have voiced opposition to the measure as written.
KUNR reached out to Rep. Amodei for comment.