Rep. Berkley ‘hopeful’ health-care law not overturned

Congresswoman and Senate candidate avoids mention of ethics investigation

LAS VEGAS — U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., said Wednesday she’s “hopeful” the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act won’t be struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

During a town hall-style meeting hosted by the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, she also avoided any reference to the ethics investigation she’s facing in the House of Representatives.

“Let’s see what the Supreme Court decides, and we’ll take it from there,” Berkley said when asked if Congress would introduce a new law if the current one — commonly dubbed “Obamacare” — is ruled unconstitutional.

Speaking to an audience of 170 people at The Palms Resort, Berkley emphasized her support of expanded Medicare and health-insurance coverage for all Nevadans.

“People who have health care will live longer and will ultimately save taxpayers billions of dollars,” she said.

Berkley didn’t say how the government should pay for increased health-care coverage. The leader of her party, President Barack Obama, supports tax increases.

Last fall, the New York Times spotlighted Berkley’s avid support for federal health-care funding while her husband’s medical firm was under contract to hospitals including University Medical Center, the largest taxpayer-funded hospital in Southern Nevada. Her husband’s firm, Bernstein, Pokroy and Lehrner, LTD, specializes in kidney care, an area Berkley fought to include in Medicare coverage.

Last month, the House Ethics Committee announced it had launched an ethics investigation into Berkley’s behavior. During her speech, the congresswoman mentioned many family members but not her husband.

Berkley, running against Republican Dean Heller for the U.S. Senate, did not mention him in today’s speech, nor did she mention Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a major supporter of her Senate campaign.

Instead, she stayed with a stump speech touting her priorities for, she said, improving Nevada’s economy.

One prominent topic was her introduction of the Clean Energy Jobs Act, which would eliminate subsidies for “Big Oil” and increase subsidies for renewable-energy projects. The bill currently has no co-sponsors.

“We need the renewable-energy manufacturing projects here. Big Oil doesn’t,” said Berkley. “I want to make Nevada the clean-energy capital of the world.”

She touched on Nevada’s housing crisis and emphasized her optimism about the state’s economy.

“Once people have more money to come spend here, we’ll be back,” Berkley said.

In attendance were multiple state lawmakers, including Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, state Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford and Assembly Majority Leader Marcus Conklin.

The Chamber plans to host events with each member of Nevada’s congressional delegation. U.S. Rep. Joe Heck, a Republican, is scheduled to speak in July.

Kyle Gillis is a reporter for Nevada Journal, a publication of the Nevada Policy Research Institute. For more in-depth reporting, visit http://nevadajournal.com/ and http://npri.org/.

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