Healthcare is a right — not a privilege.
But earlier this month, Republicans in Congress made it abundantly clear that they view it as a privilege. They passed a health care bill that cuts coverage, increases costs and eliminates protections, despite bipartisan opposition. They voted to cut coverage for 24 million people, raise premiums by 20%, let insurance companies charge 5 times more for people over the age of 50 while eliminating protections for people with pre-existing conditions. They voted for a system that works for corporate CEOs and not the patients. They ignored the 83% of Americans that made it loud and clear they did not support this bill.
While Republicans in Washington, including Rep. Mark Amodei, ignored the will of the voters, I’m doing something about it right here in Nevada.
This session I am proudly sponsoring the Nevada Care Plan.
My bill will allow all Nevadans — regardless of age, gender, income or pre-existing condition — to enroll in the Nevada Care Plan. Assembly Bill 374 will require the director of the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services to obtain any necessary provisional waivers to allow the offering of the benefits of Medicaid and make coverage available to individuals that would typically be ineligible.
Passing this bill will revolutionize our state’s antiquated and complicated healthcare system.
Currently, Medicaid is one of the largest, if not the largest, source of healthcare coverage in the United States. In 2010, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) sought to enact comprehensive healthcare reform by expanding access to millions of Americans. Under the ACA, veterans, childless adults and individuals with chronic diseases benefited substantially from enrollment. After the in-state expansion in 2014, over 300,000 Nevadans became eligible for Medicaid. Despite the success of the ACA Medicaid expansion across various states, there are still millions that remain uninsured. What else can be done? How can we assure all Nevadans get healthcare coverage?
Imagine a Medicaid expansion that could provide coverage to all Nevadans. One that would give every Nevadan an opportunity to purchase a plan with Medicaid-like benefits on the insurance market. An expansion that would create more options for patients in counties where they currently only have one option for health insurance — putting control back in patients’ hands.
That’s what the Nevada Care Plan is offering.
After the 2016 election and under the new administration, the state of the ACA is unknown. The repeal of the ACA will undoubtedly leave millions of Americans uninsured—including some of the most infirm and poverty stricken but not in Nevada if we pass this plan.
Nevada has an opportunity to not only provide healthcare access to all Nevadans but also establish itself as a pioneer in healthcare reform.
Mike Sprinkle is a Democrat and Nevada state assemblyman from Sparks.