Low wages, low benefits

Nevada’s economy needs Medicaid.

Bob Fulkerson is executive director of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada.

Medicaid is one of the too few threads that compose Nevada’s frayed safety net to help families struggling to get by. As of May, 660,000 Nevadans were on Medicaid. Most of them are mothers and children, the elderly, blind or disabled. Yet politicians like Dean Heller and Adam Laxalt would shred that net even further and allow them to fend for themselves, by killing the Affordable Care Act and imposing punitive new requirements.

Thanks to the leadership of Gov. Brian Sandoval, Nevada was the first state with a Republican governor to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Heller has supported multiple bills to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which provided Nevada and other states with more money to support hospitals, clinics and increased economic growth.

Laxalt would enforce punitive measures before allowing recipients to get health care. He needs to learn that more than half of those who can work, such as people without disabilities, are already working, and more and more are working when they can, according to a new study by the Economic Policy Institute and the Center for American Progress.

Nevada’s economy is dominated by low-wage jobs, unstable work schedules and few if any benefits. If Laxalt and Heller actually cared as much about workers and families struggling to get by as they do their billionaire donors, they would join us in supporting measures that increase shared prosperity, such as a minimum wage increase, equal pay for women, paid leave, and child care.

Finally, confirmation of Donald Trump’s right-wing nominee Brett Kavanaugh would create a conservative majority on the court that would likely vote to overturn the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including Medicaid expansion, or could side with Trump on work requirements, fundamentally changing the nature of the Medicaid program. Kavanaugh is on the record disagreeing with Justice Roberts for upholding the ACA’s individual mandate as constitutional back in 2012. In his dissent, Kavanaugh indicated that he would not hold a president accountable for refusing to follow the law: “the president may decline to enforce a statute that regulates private individuals when the president deems the statute unconstitutional, even if a court has held or would hold the statute as constitutional.”