Gov. Steve Sisolak on Wednesday signed the Public Option health plan law.
SB420 is designed to create a health plan for all Nevadans that is less expensive but at least as generous as Medicare.
The state now has until 2025 to study and develop the plan, including finding funds to pay for it. The law directs the head of the Health and Human Services Department, director of the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange and Insurance Commissioner to apply to the federal government for waivers to obtain federal pass-through funding to help pay for the plan, including potentially through the Social Security Act.
The plan sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, D-Las Vegas, also authorizes those officials to seek any and all other funding to pay for the plan. Any money received would be deposited in a trust fund created by SB420.
It also requires participating health plans to pay comparable or better than Medicare rates to support hospitals and doctors who are more likely to care for patients on Medicaid or who are uninsured.
A group of Nevada doctors applauded Sisolak’s signing the bill, saying the plan will make comprehensive health care affordable for all Nevadans.
Nita Schwartz, a doctor in western Nevada, said the law will provide real relief to families across Nevada as well as hospitals and other providers.
She was joined by Dr. Jerry Zebrack of Reno who said because of Nevada’s reliance on the service industry, many workers can suddenly find themselves out of a job and without insurance. He said the public option will help providers because more individuals will be insured, providing more financial security, especially in rural areas.
The insurance policies would be purchased through the health insurance exchange and would be required to provide at least the level of coverage mandated by the Affordable Care Act but at a cost at least 5 percent lower than the “reference premiums” for any given zip code.