Key GOP Guv Still Wary Of O’Care Repeal After Meeting With Top Trump Officials

Julie Jacobson/AP

A Republican governor with significant influence over Senate Obamacare repeal effort was still skeptical of the recently revised bill after meeting with top officials in President Trump’s administration.

Gov. Brian Sandoval (R-NV) did not appear to be swayed by his closed door discussions with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma at a National Governor’s Association confab in Rhode Island, the Nevada Independent reported Saturday.

He said he would come out with his final stance next week, and he was still comparing numbers released by the Congressional Budget Office on the initial bill showing 22 million fewer people uninsured versus the assertions of the Trump administration.

“What’s difficult is there’s a lot of dispute about the veracity of those numbers,” Sandoval told reporters, according to the Nevada Independent. “As a governor, it’s incumbent on me to sort that out.”

Sandoval, who has praised his state’s expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, is playing an outsized role in the repeal debate because Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) has indicated he would depend on Sandoval’s views of the bill in determining how he would vote. If Heller comes out against the bill, he would doom the effort, which has already seen two GOP defections.

After the first version of the legislation was rolled out last month, Heller appeared in a press conference with Sandoval to announce his opposition to the bill. Senate GOP leaders unveiled an updated version of the bill on Thursday that did not address the qualms Heller had raised about its massive Medicaid cuts.

Sandoval said Thursday that his initial read of the revised bill, because it appeared similar to the initial draft, prompted “great concern.” Heller, who is up for reelection in 2018, is currently undecided on the new bill.