“Republicans keep telling me Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, a third apparent ‘nay,’ will be ‘bought off,'” wrote Mike Allen on Axios Friday morning.
Throughout the Trumpcare debate, or debacle, Heller has deferred to — or hidden behind — Gov. Brian Sandoval. The reasonable if not inescapable conclusion is that if Heller can be bought off, it will be because Sandoval can be.
Sandoval was to meet with Mike Pence Friday, and The Indy’s Michelle Rindels, covering the National Governors Association meeting in Rhode Island, was quick to connect the dots.So if in fact Heller, which is to say Sandoval, can be bought off, what would it take?
Provisions in the bill to fully finance Nevada’s Medicaid expansion forever after, along with additional, ongoing federal money to enhance Medicaid coverage in Nevada generally? Provisions in the bill assuring that cost sharing payments to insurers offering plans on Nevada’s health exchange would be paid in full — provisions strong enough to assure that companies would participate in the exchange in Nevada’s rural counties? Provisions dramatically increasing subsidies for Nevada exchange customers? Requirements that insurers in Nevada must meet current coverage standards in plans offered on the exchange?
And maybe some non-health insurance stuff too. Yucca axed from Trump’s budget, for instance? Perhaps full-throated Trump administration support for online gambling? Assurances that the Justice Dept. will leave Nevada’s shiny new marijuana industry alone? A delightful assortment of subsidies, regulatory relief, administrative action/inaction and other sweetheart deals for Nevada’s largest, richest and most influential industries, i.e., Sandoval’s base?
Oh and for good measure, should one come up, Sandoval gets a Supreme Court seat?
Language actually inserted into legislation excepted, the obvious problem underlying any deal Sandoval might make in exchange for Heller’s support of Trumpcare is that no matter how strong the assurances or promises, be they policy or personal, nothing uttered by anyone in the Trump administration can or should be believed by anyone anywhere.
And it may all be naught for anyway. Susan Collins and Rand Paul are voting no, which means McConnell can’t lose one more Republican senator. If one more — Portman, Capito, whatever whosit — comes out as a firm no, Heller will simply follow along.
But if in fact Nevada’s very own Dean Heller is the all-important 50th Republican to vote to repeal Obamacare and replace it with tax cuts for rich people, thus allowing Pence to cast the tie-breaking vote, whatever goodies Sandoval extracts in return will be truly and staggeringly eye-popping.
Unless Sandoval and Heller (the actual senator; yes, it’s easy to forget) settle for some nickel-ninety-eight chump change, pretend it’s a good deal, and then, a la their buddy Rep. Mark Amodei, ignorantly contend that the Nevada economy is going to be so great everybody will be able to afford health care coverage anyway.