Gov. Jim Gibbons on Wednesday backed off his long-shot plan to have Nevada withdraw from Medicaid, a federal program that provides low-cost health care to the poor.
He said he won’t go through with the plan, which was based on a concern that Congress would pass health reform legislation that would make it more expensive for states to participate in the program.
In a written statement, the Republican governor slammed Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., for his role in crafting the legislation.
“Because it appears Senator Reid’s plan is no longer viable, this crushing additional cost to the state isn’t forcing us to seriously consider opting out of Medicaid at this time,” Gibbons said.
Two weeks ago, Gibbons announced he would study dropping out of the program as a way to save money, even though the notion was widely dismissed by critics from both major political parties.
At the time, Gibbons cited a projection from the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services that said the federal legislation could raise the cost to the state by $613 million from 2014 to 2019.
But legislative leaders said Gibbons’ idea would not get their approval. And a nonpartisan policy research group that monitors Congress said dumping Medicaid would leave many Nevadans without health care.
“By dropping out of Medicaid, he would only increase the number of uninsured in Nevada, which increases the number of people going to the emergency room for treatment, which is then paid for by taxpayers,” Reid spokesman Jon Summers said when Gibbons first announced he was considering the idea.