LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nevada’s U.S. House delegation voted Thursday along party lines to repeal a Medicare cost-control board that’s part of President Barack Obama’s federal health care law in the latest sign that health care could dominate the state’s November elections.
Republican Reps. Joe Heck and Mark Amodei joined the GOP majority in a 223-181 vote to overturn the Independent Payment Advisory Board. Democratic U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley voted against the repeal.
The vote is largely symbolic because the measure is unlikely to pass in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Nevertheless, it is likely to become a pivotal campaign issue for Berkley and Heck.
Heck represents the state’s most competitive House district, while Berkley is running for the U.S. Senate against Republican Sen. Dean Heller. Amodei represents northern Nevada in a safe GOP seat.
The Independent Payment Advisory Board was created to keep Medicare costs in check by forcing cuts on service providers. Obama has not named anyone to the panel.
The health care law prohibits the board from rationing care, shifting costs to Medicare recipients or cutting benefits. But Republicans say it could limit care for senior citizens.
“Nevada’s seniors don’t want unelected, unaccountable Washington bureaucrats coming between them and the Medicare services they rely on,” Heck said after Thursday’s vote.
Heck, who represents suburban southern Nevada, has vowed to repeal the federal health care law. He is locked in a tight race against Democratic Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, who supports the federal law and has been critical of Heck’s health care-related votes.
Berkley, who represents Las Vegas, has been an avid supporter of the health care law.
“The only ones trying to cut Medicare benefits are those who voted for the Ryan budget plan,” said Berkley, referring to the Republican budget proposal named for House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)
Heller twice voted for the Republican’s proposed budget. He quickly blasted Berkley’s vote Thursday, saying the measure would “deny health care for seniors.”