By ALISON NOON and BILL BARROW
CARSON CITY, Nev. — The pressure is on Republican senators — from congressional leaders, conservative groups and impatient GOP voters — to fulfill a seven-year-old promise to scrap much of Democrat Barack Obama’s health care law. But back home, Republican governors who have experienced some of the upside of the law are warning their GOP senators to first, do no harm.
For these governors, the issue is less about delivering a triumph to President Donald Trump and more about not blowing a hole in state budgets and maintaining health care coverage for constituents. In the critical next few weeks, some governors are uniquely positioned to press home-state Republican senators who could deny Majority Leader Mitch McConnell the votes he needs to pass a Republican health care bill.
“We are the voice of reality,” Nevada GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval told The Associated Press.
Sandoval said he has been in regular contact with Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller to discuss the ramifications of the evolving GOP plan. Heller, who faces a tough re-election next year, has joined Sandoval in opposing the current measure.
For wary Republicans, the main concerns about the GOP plan are rolling back premium subsidies that help people buy private insurance policies and phasing out the expansion of Medicaid, the federal-state insurance program for the poor, disabled and many nursing home patients. In Nevada, more than 220,000 residents have gained coverage through Medicaid expansion, 13,000 of them children.
“They set policy, but we’re the ones who have to develop the budgets, develop the care, develop the plans, work directly with the people,” Sandoval said. He said if money is reduced, governors will be left to decide among unpopular choices: “Raise a tax or limit coverage or change eligibility requirements” for coverage.
Heller is listening.
“I cannot support a piece of legislation that takes insurance away from tens of millions of Americans and tens of thousands of…