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Heller dismisses inflatable tube man imagery in new ad pushing back on health-care attacks

Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nevada) talks to attendees before speaking at the Hispanics in Politics breakfast at Doña Maria Tamales Restaurant on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller released a new television spot Tuesday morning pushing back on attacks over his record on health care by co-opting the orange inflatable tube man imagery his opponent Rep. Jacky Rosen has used in her ads.

Heller, who directly addresses the camera in the 30-second spot, highlights Rosen’s short tenure in Congress saying that she has “done nothing to fix health care” and that her only solution is a campaign commercial. The ad comes in response to a series of ads Rosen has run featuring an orange inflatable tube man with yellow hair and a striped tie — meant to represent Heller — accusing the Republican senator of flip-flopping over bills to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

The ad, which will run statewide, is Heller’s fifth of the cycle.

Heller’s ad includes, and also dismisses, the tubeman imagery, with the senator saying that “actions speak louder than, whatever that is,” gesturing to the tubeman. It also repeats attacks from a previous Heller campaign ad, saying that the freshman congresswoman’s record is “nothing, zero.”

“Jacky, I’ll stack my record up against yours any day,” Heller says.

In the ad, Heller says he is “fighting to protect pre-existing conditions,” pointing to his vote in favor of a skinny repeal of the Affordable Care Act and a bill he recently introduced with nine other Republican senators to bring back the Affordable Care Act’s protections for patients with pre-existing conditions in the event that a federal court strikes them down.

The skinny repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which failed in the Senate last summer, would have set the penalty associated with the law’s individual mandate to purchase health insurance at $0, effectively repealing the rule, but would have kept in place protections for pre-existing conditions. However, the Trump Administration is now arguing in federal court that the ACA’s protections for pre-existing conditions are unconstitutional after Congress succeeded in zeroing out the individual mandate penalty as part of its tax reform bill in December. (Heller voted in favor of that bill, too.)

The bill that Heller recently introduced would put those protections for pre-existing conditions back in place should the court strike them down. But health-care policy experts are cautioning that the bill may still leave sick patients without the care they need because it doesn’t include one key part of the ACA’s protections for pre-existing conditions.

Heller also says in the ad that he is fighting to “increase funding for Nevadans who need it most,” pointing to a health-care proposal best known as Graham-Cassidy-Heller that would have taken the money allocated by the Affordable Care Act and instead turned it into a block grant to be doled out to the states to use as they see fit.

Proponents and opponents of the measure have argued about whether or not the proposal would actually increase funding to the state. The bill’s sponsors released calculations last year showing that Nevada would receive 34.5 percent more dollars in 2026 when the block grant ends compared to when it begins in 2020. However, opponents said Nevada would actually receive $639 million less in 2026 than it would under the current law in 2026, saying that that calculation is the more relevant comparison.

Rosen spokeswoman Molly Forgey dismissed the ad as “filled with outright lies about his own record and false attacks on Jacky Rosen,” adding that Rosen is “doing real work in Congress to fix our health care system, bring down the cost of premiums and prescription drugs, and expand access to affordable coverage.”

Rosen has co-sponsored bills to repeal a medical device tax, increase access to mental health services for veterans and repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which was created by the ACA to curb growth in Medicare spending. She also introduced a bill earlier this year to cap the monthly costs of prescription drugs.

Watch the ad below here:

Updated on 9-4-18 at 3:05 p.m. to include additional information about health-care bills Rep. Jacky Rosen has sponsored and co-sponsored.

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