Progressive groups, pro-Trump PACs and interest groups dead set against the Republicans’ health-care bill have scrambled onto Nevada’s TV stations and news sites to lobby Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.).
Heller, the only Senate Republican facing a 2018 reelection bid in a state won by Hillary Clinton last year, announced Friday that he could not back a bill “that takes away insurance from tens of millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Nevadans.”
That made him the fifth Republican currently on the record against the bill. Just three “no” votes would defeat GOP’s reconciliation bill, and Republicans eventually expect holdouts such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) to sign on if the bill is amended next week. But Heller’s objection to the bill’s Medicaid cuts are unlikely to be resolved by Republicans, as the bill’s tax cuts are paid for by scaling back the coverage expansion.
America First Policies, one of several groups set up to back the president since his election, announced Friday that it would launch digital and TV ads asking Heller to change his stance. It summed up the message in a tweet: “Why did Sen. Dean Heller lie to voters about Repeal and Replace? He’s now with Nancy Pelosi.”
But America First Policies was late to the game. One month ago, AARP began running ads asking Heller to vote no if the Republicans’ health-care bill got to the Senate. An ad portrays an irate couple learning that “if you’re over 50, health-care companies can charge you five times more,” a dramatization of what AARP calls “the age tax.”
Last week, the pro-Affordable Care Act pressure group “Save My Care” began its own dramatic ad spot, citing more estimates of how costs would increase if the bill went into place.
Two more ads were even more apocalyptic. One, from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, portrayed parents selling off their belongings to pay for a child in a hospital bed. The progressive Community Catalyst Action Fund ran another spot in which a mother scrambles to grab an inhaler for a child undergoing an asthma attack. “Senator Heller, when this happens, she isn’t thinking about the health care bill in Congress,” says a narrator, before warning that the bill’s passage would make parents choose between health care and the rest of their bills.
The America First Policies ads, so far, make no mention of the bill’s context. Instead, they encourage Heller to “stand with conservatives” and back the bill. It’s the latest example of Republicans who ran in swing states or districts and pledged to at least repeal much of the ACA being warned that they’d betray the president — who also ran against Medicaid cuts — if they vote no.