Democrats led by Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro of Las Vegas on Wednesday introduced legislation that would create a Public Option program that would provide health insurance coverage to “all natural persons who reside in this state.”
The plan would dramatically expand access to coverage using the existing Medicaid system and Nevada’s Silver State Health Exchange, making health plan coverage available directly to individuals and small employers in Nevada.
That insurance would have to meet federal requirements that now exist through the Affordable Care Act and other federal mandates.
The draft text of SB420 states that it would have a fiscal impact but, at the time of its introduction, no fiscal notes were attached to the measure.
“Nevada has one of the highest uninsured rates in the country and this past year has made the gaps in our healthcare system even more obvious,” Cannizzaro said.
She said the public health crisis cost many people their health insurance along with their jobs.
“Today’s introduction of the Nevada Public Option comes at a critical time and would bring us one step closer to ensuring every single Nevadan has access to affordable, quality healthcare,” she said.
The measure would require health carriers that provide coverage to Medicaid recipients or the Public Employee Benefits Program and those who care for injured workers in the state’s worker compensation program to participate in the competitive bidding process and require them to enroll in the public option.
SB420 would also expand Medicaid to include coverage for pregnant women with household incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, making the “presumptively eligible” for Medicaid.
That would also allow members of the public to sign up through Nevada Health Link and receive premium subsidies available through the ACA.
The measure would also require Medicaid to cover an expanded array of services including community health workers as well as physicians and nurses.
It was referred to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.