GOP senator laments Obamacare repeal failure as 'missed opportunity'


Who would call a failed attempt to rip away health care from millions of families a 'missed opportunity'? Nevada's embattled Sen. Dean Heller, that's who.

For years, Republicans schemed and plotted to kick millions of families off health insurance rolls — and now, Nevada's vulnerable Sen. Dean Heller is calling the party's ultimate failure to do so a "missed opportunity."

In an interview with the Washington Examiner, Heller, a Nevada Republican at risk of losing his seat in November, criticized GOP leadership for trying to repeal the popular Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, right after taking over Congress.

Heller said he would have preferred to tackle other issues first — and then get around to destroying the massive reform that has helped millions of Americans gain access to health insurance and protected them from insurance company abuses.

"It was a missed opportunity, without a doubt," Heller lamented about the Republican failure.

Heller's record on health care is a long tale of flip-flopping and kowtowing.

Heller initially opposed the Republican health care repeal bill, to much fanfare. He made a big show about how he wanted to protect Americans' health care while standing next to Nevada's popular Republican governor, Brian Sandoval, on television.

"I'm telling you right now I cannot support a piece of legislation that takes insurance away from tens of millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Nevadans," Heller said at the time.

But just a month later, Heller caved to the influence of Trump and outside monied conservatives — and did, in fact, support a piece of legislation that would have taken health insurance away from tens of millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Nevadans.

The bill Heller backed would have resulted in 16 million people losing health insurance, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Further, a health insurance trade group warned the bill would "result in higher premiums, fewer choices for consumers and fewer people covered next year."

The bill would have wrecked health insurance for millions — and not only that, it also weakened crucial protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions.

Heller's epic flop-flop was memorialized in a now-famous photo of Trump and Heller laughing together, as Trump recalled how he used to be worried Heller would stand by his word and actually oppose the Trump agenda.

But Heller quickly capitulated, and it turned out Trump had nothing to fear.

Heller's opponent in the Nevada senate race, Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen, released an ad nicknaming Heller the "Spineless Senator."

And Democrats aren't the only ones who criticize Heller for being a political invertebrate.

Republican Rep. Mark Amodei, Nevada's only Republican in the House of Representatives, had this to say about Heller's shifting health care positions: "It's like, hey, it's pretty clear you changed your mind, you probably ought to tell people why."

Despite his previous waffling on the topic — and despite being one of the Senate's most vulnerable incumbents — Heller now seems determined to undermine Obamacare if he returns to the Senate next year.

Republicans have been uniformly vocal about their ambitions of taking another shot at ripping health care away from millions of families.

Heller's complaint about the missed opportunity in 2017 sure sounds like he wants another opportunity in 2019 to help destroy the American health care system.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.