LAS VEGAS — Nevada physicians today announced their support for expanding health care access by passing the Nevada Public Option to reduce costs and make comprehensive health care affordable for all Nevadans, especially low-income and rural residents. Among the main pillars of the Nevada Public Option: Ensuring residents statewide have access to at least one high-quality, affordable health care plan, and helping all families save on premiums and out-of-pocket costs by leveraging Nevada’s purchasing power to negotiate lower costs of care.
“As physicians, we see too many Nevadans struggle to get the care they need to stay healthy, work and care for their families, with fewer options and higher prices for low-income and rural families,” said Dr. Harpreet Tsui, D.O., an internal medicine specialist in Henderson. “The Nevada Public Option is critical to improving the health of tens of thousands of Nevadans, regardless of where they live. Nobody should be forced to go without health care, especially during a deadly pandemic, which has caused many Nevadans to lose their jobs and their employer-provided health care. The public option can also help reduce the burden on small businesses who want to help pay for health insurance for their employees, but can’t afford to.”
The Nevada Public Option ensures all Nevadans have at least one affordable health care option. Currently, Nevadans who live outside Clark and Washoe counties often have only one plan on the health exchange or none at all. Additionally, rural Nevadans pay significantly more for health care, an average of $274 more than people in Clark County.
The Nevada Public Option increases access to maternal and pregnancy care by closing gaps in Medicaid coverage. Additionally, the plan reins in skyrocketing premium costs: During the first year of implementation, the Nevada Public Option requires premiums to be at least 5 percent less expensive than the prior year and reach 15 percent savings over the course of five years.
Under the Nevada Public Option, 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 and Medicare, or who are uninsured, and often face low cash flows.
“Getting Nevadans health care is critical, because individuals who can see a doctor when they need to are more likely to get the care they need when they need it and follow up that care when they should,” said Dr. Philip Malinas, M.D., a psychiatrist in Reno. “Greater health care access benefits individual Nevadans and their communities — in fact, potentially all of Nevada. The Nevada Public Option is an important step toward fixing our dysfunctional health care system that leaves too many people behind, especially low-income women, rural Nevadans and communities of color. Policymakers must seize this opportunity to provide more Nevadans the peace of mind and protections that come with health care coverage.”
Since 2010, average family premiums have increased 55 percent, at least twice as fast as wages at 27 percent and inflation at 19 percent. Prices for more than 500 prescription drugs went up a median of 4.6 percent in 2020, about double the projected rate of inflation. Already, Americans currently spend more on health care than comparable countries, yet see poorer health outcomes and lower life expectancy.
“Data show that Nevada has the sixth highest rate of people without health insurance, which is why passing a public option would make such a difference for patients in our state,” said Dr. Randi Lampert M.D., a pediatrician in Las Vegas. “Black, Latino, and Indigenous communities face even greater health challenges because of lack of insurance access, including significant disparities in birth and infant outcomes. The Nevada Public Option would help reduce these dangerous inequities while helping all Nevadans better afford the care they need.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, April 28, 2021
NOTE: The physicians above are speaking in their capacity as members of the Committee to Protect Medicare. They should be identified only as indicated in this news release.