Nevada Care Plan hopes to insure Nevadans

CARSON CITY, Nev. (KOLO) - It’s a way for any Nevadan, regardless of income, to participate in the state’s Medicaid Program.

So as not to confuse anyone with the Medicaid Program, in which low-income residents are covered by health insurance through the state, the proposed Nevada Care Plan is health insurance available to any Nevada resident regardless of income.

Nevada Care Plan patients would pay premiums for their health insurance, with premium costs being enough to subsidize those on the state Medicaid program.

The sponsor of the bill, Assemblyman Mike Sprinkle, told committee members his bill, AB 374, would set up a framework to establish such a program here in Nevada.

How much would the premiums cost? What would that coverage look like? How could residents buy it?

Those questions would all be worked on and answered if the governor signs the bill, and a study group along with the Nevada Department of Insurance, the Silver State Health Exchange, and Nevada’s Division of Health Care Financing would all work together and figure it out.

They would have about a year to come up with answers.

The Nevada Hospital Association, along with HCA Sunrise Health Care, oppose the bill, fearing reimbursement from such a program would not be enough to sustain hospitals.

“The problem is moving any segment of potential patients out of commercial payment levels into a number that is, I think Assemblyman Sprinkle said, is just a percentage above cost,” George Ross from HCA Sunrise testified.

Ross claimed reimbursement equal to 1 or 2% over cost isn’t going to help hospitals with the bottom line or help hospitals provide services patients need.

"It's a right. It’s not just a product. And unfortunately that's kind of what I heard a little bit here just in these last closing minutes from those in opposition. It’s not just a product that I am talking about. This is something that I believe that every single one of us and everybody in the state in Nevada deserves," Sprinkle told the committee.

Sprinkle says he hopes that framework will develop into a solid plan by January 2019.

At that point expect more legislative bills to appear in Nevada’s Senate and Assembly to make Nevada Care Plan legal in the state and conform to federal guidelines.

Nevada is the first state to tackle health insurance accessibility in this way. Other states are watching.