Medicaid rates before Nevada Legislature |

Medicaid rates before Nevada Legislature

Several bills dealing with Medicaid — specifically the reimbursement rates providers are paid — were reviewed in the Nevada Legislature on Wednesday.

Activists told the Assembly Health and Human Services Committee those rates are so low many providers refuse to take Medicaid patients. They say in many procedures and services, the rates don’t even cover their costs.

Assembly Bill 108 by James Oscarson, R-Pahrump, would mandate a complete review of those rates — for literally a couple thousand different services and procedures — every four years. He said mandating that review every year would be a huge burden on the health division. But the Silver Haired Legislative Forum, advocating on behalf of Nevada’s seniors, wants that annual review in Senate Bill 28.

Neither bill could mandate the governor and lawmakers actually raise the rates.

Oscarson said there are now 632,641 Nevadans covered by Medicaid and they have limited access to health care especially in the rural areas.

“A lot of people in Nevada are not able to receive services because certain providers are no longer providing services under Medicaid,” said Charles Perry of Las Vegas Heals, backing Oscarson’s argument..

He said the hope is knowing how the rates compare to costs and other factors “will move reimbursement rates to a level that will attract providers.”

Ed Guthrie of Opportunity Village in Las Vegas said those rates haven’t been reviewed for at least 12 years. He said rates have risen for community services by just 3.4 percent in that period. He said institutional services for hospitals and the like have increased more than that.

Connie McMullen who represents the Personal Care Association, said their rates were raised in 2002 but then cut back when the recession hit.

George Ross, lobbyist for Sunrise Health Care, made it clear hospitals also are suffering. He said 43 percent of Sunrise patients in Southern Nevada are on Medicaid. He said studies of the rates now paid, “make us much more conscious of the relative costs of services in the hospital, make us much more aware of the costs of treatment.”

SB28 was approved by the Senate Human Services Committee on Wednesday along with SB95 requiring studies of Medicaid reimbursement rates for personal care services and SB96 requiring an analysis of reimbursement services.

All those bills, however, have a financial impact to the state and, so, were referred to the Senate Finance Committee for hearings.

Oscarson, however, said at least studying the rates would let everyone know how far behind Nevada’s rates are, putting the issue clearly before the decision-makers.

His AB108 didn’t get a vote in committee Wednesday.