ICYMI: ‘Physicians And Other Health Care Workers Have Serious Concerns’ About State Government Option

CARSON CITY, Nev. – As some Nevada lawmakers push for the creation of a new state government-controlled health insurance system known as the state government option, Nariman Rahimzadeh, M.D., president of the Nevada State Society of Anesthesiologists, writes in an op-ed published by the Reno Gazette-Journal that “many physicians and other health care workers have serious concerns about the potential impacts that legislation being considered in Carson City would have on patient care and the strength of our overall health care system,” adding that it “could increase the problems facing some of our state’s most at-risk patient populations.”

Dr. Rahimzadeh warns:

  • “As well-intended as it may be, this so-called state government option could reduce access to affordable coverage for Nevadans while undermining our state’s health care workforce and infrastructure.”
  • “Like many parts of the country, a growing physician shortage statewide has been slowly but surely chipping away at access to comprehensive, affordable health care in many of our rural communities. A study by the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine Indicates that, for every 100,000 residents, the Silver State runs ranks 45th in the nation for active physicians, 48th for primary care physician, and 50th for general surgeons. This is a challenging enough problem considering Nevada’s population has been growing rapidly in recent years, with U.S. Census Data indicating that our state is the fourth-fastest growing for seniors 65 years of age and older. Many in the health care community fear that this untenable situation could only get worse under SB 420 and the state government option it would impose.”
  • “Such a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach would drastically slash reimbursements to physicians, hospitals and other health care providers. This could have the unintended consequence of forcing some facilities to scale back their services, reduce staff or close their doors altogether. In doing so, the state government option could actually worsen our physician shortage and eliminate critical options for vulnerable Nevada communities, particularly in rural regions where access to health care is already limited.”
  • Now is not the time to experiment with such massive changes to our health care system, especially given the evidence we have that it wouldn’t even reduce costs or lower premiums. In Washington, the only state to have passed a similar government-run health care option, premiums for public option plans are coming in higher than existing plans on the ACA’s marketplace. Some are nearly 30% more expensive, begging the question — why do Nevada lawmakers want to repeat these mistakes?
  • “This bill is unaffordable and unnecessary, particularly given the recent expansion of health care coverage and subsidies both the federal and state level that is helping to increase access for millions of Americans. Passage of the American Rescue Plan Act is being touted as the biggest expansion of federal aid for health care since the ACA passed in 2010, enabling states like Nevada to increase subsidies in order to make coverage more affordable.”
  • “Lawmakers just recently amended SB 420 so the state government-run option would now not even begin operating until 2026. Given there is now a five-year delay for implementation, there is no reason for lawmakers to attempt to rush this process through and pass a deeply flawed bill in the last few weeks of the legislative session. In fact, the Brookings Institution recently warned lawmakers against ‘making lasting changes’ to state health care policies until the impact of ARPA is more fully understood.”
  • “… Nevada lawmakers need to slow down and stop trying to pass a massive, unaffordable and unnecessary state government health insurance system. An issue of this magnitude deserves serious debate and thoughtful consideration. Lawmakers need to take more time to understand the impact a state government option would have on costs, access, and Nevada’s growing physician shortage.”

To read Dr. Rahimzadeh’s full op-ed in the Reno Gazette-Journal, CLICK HERE.

To learn more about Nevada’s Health Care Future, CLICK HERE.