Sen. Dean Heller votes for 'Skinny' repeal, bill fails

LAS VEGAS - A week long drive by Republicans to repeal and replace Obamacare crashed and burned early Friday morning.

Senator Dean Heller has been front-and-center in the health care debate since coming out against the bill at the end of June.

Last night, he voted for it. But the bill failed to advance by a one-vote margin after three Republicans voted against the bill.

With a simple thumbs-down, Arizona Republican John McCain killed the GOP's attempt to scrap the Affordable Care Act.

Many expected that deciding 'no' vote to come from Nevada's Dean Heller, after he stood with Governor Brian Sandoval at a rare joint press conference last month -- the senator saying he would not vote for a version of the health care bill that the governor didn't support.

"I'm telling you right now, I cannot support a piece of legislation that takes insurance from tens of millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Nevadans," he said on June 23, 2017.

In a letter this week, Sandoval joined other governors in saying he did not support the "skinny" option but Heller voted for it Thursday night.

In a statement, he says, in part, "while not perfect, the Health Care Freedom Act protected coverage for our most vulnerable and provided relief to many hardworking Nevadans by repealing the most onerous provision of Obamacare, the individual mandate."

The Congressional Budget Office estimates 16 million Americans would lose healthcare coverage under that bill -- though Republicans say some would leave voluntarily because the individual mandate would be lifted.

Heller voted against two other options -- the repeal and replace and the delayed repeal provisions -- which would see north of 20 million lose coverage.

The senator's evolving position has frustrated both sides.

"Whether you agree with him or not, he says one thing here, and then he goes back to D.C. and he does something else, and it's completely unacceptable," said Annette Magnus, executive director, Battle Born Progress.

"And he is campaigning as a conservative, and then once he is in office, he turns into a moderate, more liberal-leaning," said Amy Tarkanian, former Nevada GOP chairman.

8 News NOW tried all week to coordinate an interview with Senator Heller about the health care bill but he has not been available for an interview.

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