Legislative bill proposes public health insurance option for Nevadans

Legislative bill proposes public health insurance option for Nevadans
State Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro during a joint press conference with Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson at the Legislature on the twelfth day of the 31st Special Session in Carson City on Sunday, July 19, 2020. (Pool Photo by David Calvert/Nevada Independent)

CARSON CITY–A bill draft put forward in the Nevada Legislature proposes to create a public health insurance option for Nevadans. The intent is to create a public option for individual and small-group insurance markets to improve access to affordable health insurance.

The idea behind the bill, which is being proposed by southern Nevada Democratic Senator Nicole Cannizzaro, is to “leverage the combined purchasing power of the State to lower premiums and costs relating to health insurance for residents of this State.”

A memo about the bill indicates the “proposal also takes critical steps in addressing the alarming rates of health disparities among pregnant women and babies among Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color by expanding coverage and critical services to this population in Medicaid.”

The Legislative Counsel Bureau’s draft of the bill shows that any licensed insurer will be able to bid to administer the public option, but all options will have to meet federal Affordable Care Act requirements. 

“Because it would satisfy existing federal requirements, low- and middle-income consumers who qualify for federal subsidies under the ACA could apply those subsidies to the public option,” the memo states. “About 37 percent of Nevada’s uninsured population is eligible, but not yet enrolled, in Medicaid. With an affordable public option in the Nevada market, the expectation is that more people would shop for health insurance.”

The bill is expected to be introduced tomorrow.