Utah firm picked to manage Northern Nevada Veterans Home | NevadaAppeal.com

Utah firm picked to manage Northern Nevada Veterans Home

Cy Ryan
For the Nevada Appeal

A Utah company has been awarded a $21.8 million four-year contract to manage and operate the Northern Nevada Veterans' Home, now under construction in Sparks.

The state Board of Examiners on Tuesday approved the contract with the Avalon Care Center which operates other veteran homes.

Wendy Simons, deputy director of Veteran Services, told the board that ribbon cutting is scheduled for December. And she said there were 112 veterans who have expressed interest in applying to live in the home.

Gov. Brian Sandoval, board chairman, asked if the federal government has reimbursed the state $34 million as its share of construction costs. Simons said the money would come in after the state submits all its claims.

Simons said there have been town hall meetings to inform veterans about the project. And the federal Veterans Administration has been referring individuals to the state.

The board also approved a $24.4 million contract for the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange to end its reliance on the federal government for its computer platform and consumer assistance. The contract is with Vimo Inc that operates "GetInsured" that runs a similar system in Idaho. Heather Korbulic, executive director, said there would be a saving of $18.9 million through fiscal 2023.

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The exchange has helped 91,000 low income families and individuals secure health insurance. About 80 percent of those registered receive a subsidy. The exchange does not get any state appropriation but is supported by a 3.1 percent fee on the insurance premiums that are collected. Korbulic said that could be reduced to under 3 percent with the removal of federal program

She told the board that the federal government wants to increase its fees charged to the state. That proposed hike will reduce the operating budget of the exchange to just .15 percent or a little over $600,000 and it "will not allow solvency." The new system should be operational in October 2019 in time for the new enrollment period.

Also approved by the board was a $150,000 extension of the contract for attorney Marta Adams, who has been one of the leaders in the fight against location of a nuclear dump at Yucca Mountain in Nye County.

Bob Halstead, director of Nevada's Nuclear Project, told the board there has been a "concerted effort" to resurrect the licensing of Yucca Mountain. But he said the state has "battled it to a draw" in the last year. The House of Representatives passed a bill for money to restart the licensing process, but it hasn't got through the Senate.

"We're prepared for another round in January," he said and added the state may revive three suits to combat the federal government.

Sandoval said, "We're getting ready to take it to them."