ICYMI: State ‘Public Option Would Hurt Nevada Patients, Worsen State’s Doctor Shortage’

CARSON CITY, Nev. – As Nevada lawmakers debate the creation of a new state government-controlled health insurance system known as the state government option, leaders from the state’s health care community are expressing serious concerns with the unaffordable costs and negative consequences.

In an op-ed published by The Nevada Independent, Meg Jack, M.D., who serves as medical director of the emergency department at Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center, warns that the state government option “is poised to create many more problems than lawmakers believe it will solve.”

Dr. Jack writes:

  • Unfortunately, the public option will likely worsen our state’s healthcare challenges, and the unintended consequences of SB420 need to be fully considered by all stakeholders at this critical juncture.”
  • “Reimbursing physicians and other health care providers at artificially low rates that don’t cover the cost of providing care will lead to some of these providers choosing to not accept the public option — and stop taking Medicare and Medicaid patients. This will lead to physician recruitment challenges, narrower networks and reduced access to care for patients statewide. (As written, SB420 mandates that if you accept Medicare or Medicaid, you MUST accept the public option.)”
  • “Some providers – particularly in underserved or rural areas – struggle already to keep their practices or critical access facilities open. SB420 has the potential to make it financially unfeasible to provide carein our state, and would likely worsen Nevada’s growing shortage of physicians, positioning the market for collapse at a time when stability is essential.”
  • “I am deeply concerned that under the proposed state government option, the safety net of emergency care would be placed in peril and caring for patients would become more difficult as resources and specialty care diminish.”
  • We need to help the uninsured sign up for the programs already available and well subsidized by the state and federal government … As a Nevadan, I consider it part of the Legislature’s job to encourage more Nevadans to sign up for health care instead of making it harder and more expensive for my neighbors and friends to access health care. The focus should be placed on moving more currently eligible patients on to the Medicaid rolls and taking full advantage of the ACA’s menu of existing options. More than half of the uninsured population is eligible for Medicaid or exchange subsidies. I believe Nevada should leave the politics behind and focus on helping patients become enrolled.”
  • “Nevadans deserve to fully understand the potential for SB420 to limit access to care, increase our physician shortage and raise premiums for hardworking Nevadans covered by employer’s plans. On behalf of the emergency medical community, I’m urging lawmakers to pause their push for a state government option and consider the impacts it could have on Nevada patients and health care providers, rather than rushing to enact this complex legislation with just two weeks remaining in the 2021 legislative session.

Nariman Rahimzadeh, M.D., president of the Nevada State Society of Anesthesiologists, also warned in an op-ed published by the Reno Gazette-Journal this week 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 states most at-risk patient populations.”

  • To read Dr. Jack’s full op-ed in The Nevada IndependentCLICK HERE.
  • To learn more about Nevada’s Health Care Future, CLICK HERE.