Will Goveror Sandoval Support Medicaid Expansion for Nevada?

When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to uphold the Affordable Care Act, it did so only in part.  One very important section of the law that did not stand was the requirement that states expand Medicaid coverage.  For Nevada, that means Governor Brian Sandoval and the legislature must agree if the state will go forward with the Medicaid expansion.

The Medicaid expansion is designed to give health care coverage to people under 65 who make up to 133% of the federal poverty level.  For a single adult, that’s about $15,000/yr.  Due to the penalties and other provisions in the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid enrollment is likely to increase regardless of what the state decides to do.  However, should the state embrace the Medicaid expansion, the federal government will cover 100% of the estimated $300 million in annual costs to cover approximately 71,000 new enrollees for the next three years, and 90% of the costs after that.

Yesterday, SEIU Nevada delivered more than 300 hand-signed letters to Gov. Brian Sandoval urging him to expand Medicaid coverage as he crafts his budget for the 2013 legislative session.

“Going forward three years, the state would be paying just one dime for a dollar’s worth of health coverage,” said Mayra Ocampo, SEIU Director of Governmental Affairs. “So often we see our government offer big tax breaks to lure businesses. In this case, we’re getting the incentive and it makes no sense to reject it.  We can’t think of any financial reason why the governor wouldn’t expand Medicaid.  Rejecting the federal money will just put a greater strain on Nevada’s budget.”

SEIU joins a growing list of groups calling on the governor to embrace Medicaid expansion, including a recent plea from 15 health care organizations in Nevada.

While there has been strong rhetoric from some Republican governors in red states against the expansion program, some are changing their tune after Obama’s reelection.  With Nevada being a battleground state and Sandoval’s reelection in two years, just how likely is it that he will deny the Medicaid expansion?  It’s doubtful.

Pete Ernaut, one of Governor Sandoval’s top advisers, indicated as much on Ralston Reports.  In his analysis, Nevada just hasn’t done a good job of taking care of the health care needs of people at this level.  Pete Ernaut is a well respected Republican consultant.

Justin McAffee

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