LAS VEGAS — Nevada physicians today celebrated Gov. Steve Sisolak’s signature of SB 420, which will create a health care public option to reduce costs and make comprehensive health care affordable for all Nevadans. Nevada is the second state in the country to enact a public option. In addition to providing health care relief to families, including low-income communities and BIPOC communities, the physicians said the Nevada Public Option will also create a more sustainable and stable health care system in Nevada for small businesses, hospitals and providers.
“As physicians, we’re grateful to Gov. Sisolak for signing the Nevada Public Option into law to provide real relief to families across our state, as well as to hospitals and health care providers who will have a larger pool of insured patients,” said Dr. Nita Schwartz, emergency physician and hospice care medical director in Carson Valley. “This exemplary law makes Nevada a leader in the nation on health care once again, and will have a profound impact on the lives of the residents of this state. For my patients who have delayed care or skipped their medications because they couldn’t afford to incur huge medical bills, the Nevada Public Option means they can see a doctor and get tests that can improve and save their lives. People deserve to have quality health care without worrying about medical debt and medical bankruptcy.”
Among the main pillars of the Nevada Public Option:
Ensuring residents statewide have access to at least one high-quality, affordable health care plan.
Helping all families save on premiums and out-of-pocket costs by leveraging Nevada’s purchasing power to negotiate lower costs of care.
Requiring premiums to be at least 5 percent less expensive than the prior year during the first year of implementation, and reach 15 percent savings over the course of four years.
Under the proposal, physicians will continue to negotiate reimbursement rates with health plans as they currently do. Participating health plans must pay providers rates that are comparable to or better than Medicare rates, which can provide critical support to financially strapped hospitals and physicians in rural areas that are more likely to care for patients on Medicaid, or who are uninsured, and often face low cash flows. The Nevada Public Option does not set, cap or limit physician or hospital reimbursement rates.
The Nevada Public Option was sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro. Under the law, insured Nevadans can keep the coverage they have or can join other Nevadans in purchasing a new high-quality, lower-cost Public Option healthcare plan.
“Senate Majority Leader Cannizzaro’s leadership on the public option will make our system more equitable by ensuring all Nevadans will be able to get quality, affordable health care, see their physician regularly, and improve their health and their lives, regardless of who they are or what part of the state they live in,” said Dr. Reeta Thukral, a retired nephrologist in Las Vegas. “As a physician, I’ve witnessed with happiness how people who have health care and who can see a doctor are able to work, care for their families and themselves, live fulfilling lives and give back to their communities. People who have health care are more likely to get timely health screenings and other preventive services that can save their lives. Over time, as all Nevadans can access these services, Nevada will be able to control and even lower the high healthcare costs that come with treating expensive, later-stage health problems in the uninsured population.”
Studies repeatedly demonstrate that uninsured people are less likely than those with insurance to receive basic and preventive care and critical services for treating major health conditions and chronic diseases, like heart disease, diabetes, and chronic pulmonary disease (all of which are among the top ten leading causes of death in Nevada).
“Physicians have seen firsthand how our broken healthcare system forced Nevadans to pay more for their health care and yet still not get the care, treatment, and outcomes that they deserve,” said Dr. Jerry Zebrack, a cardiologist in Reno. “Our unique economy and reliance on the service industry means many of our neighbors can find themselves suddenly out of a job and without insurance. When a serious health issue strikes, the bills pile up and can’t be paid, and providers find themselves with debts they can’t collect. The public option will help providers better recoup these costs since more individuals will be insured, providing more financial security, particularly in rural areas. For our fellow doctors and the hospitals we work with, the Nevada Public Option means a more favorable payer mix, fewer cases of uncompensated care, and greater opportunities to give the families we serve the quality, compassionate and consistent care they deserve.”
Dr. Randi Lampert, a pediatrician in Las Vegas, stands with the bill just signed by Gov. Sisolak.
About the Committee to Protect Health Care
The Committee to Protect Health Care, formerly known as the Committee to Protect Medicare, is a national mobilization of doctors, health care professionals, and advocates who are building a pro-patient health care majority in Congress and in states so that we can live in an America where everyone has the health care they need to thrive. To learn more: www.committeetoprotect.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, June 9, 2021
NOTE: The physicians above are speaking in their capacity as members of the Committee to Protect Health Care. They should be identified only as indicated in this news release.