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Bills would protect health care benefits in Nevada

Two bills introduced in a Senate health committee meeting Wednesday in the Legislature would protect health care benefits in Nevada.

Senate Bill 235 would extend pre-existing condition protections created by the federal Affordable Care Act to state law.

“If we should unfortunately lose the coverage that we have at the national level … we need to make sure that at least in Nevada we will not discriminate against anyone based on their health status,” Democratic Sen. Julia Ratti said in her introduction of the bill.

The bill comes after two years of uncertainty under President Donald Trump’s administration regarding whether the ACA, created under the Obama administration, would be dismantled. The federal act made it illegal for insurance companies to charge patients more or exclude them from coverage entirely if they had a pre-existing condition, such as diabetes, cancer or asthma.

If SB235 is approved, those with chronic conditions would continue to be protected from discrimination by insurers, regardless of the ACA’s existence.

Ratti shared her story as a 20-something living with cancer in the years before the ACA. A board member at a nonprofit where she worked at the time advised her never to let her health coverage lapse, or she’d risk losing insurance for good.

“Without that board member who pulled aside an impetuous late-20-year-old who thought she was invincible to say, ‘Hey, this really is important,’ I probably would’ve been one of those folks without insurance,” Ratti told committee members.

No one testified in opposition to the bill.

A second bill, SB192, introduced in the committee meeting Wednesday would require employers to offer comprehensive health coverage that covers all of the ACA’s 10 essential health benefits, including prescription and maternity coverage, if they pay employees at the lower end of a two-tiered minimum wage system.

“What we are intending to do with Senate Bill 192 is to make sure we have clarified for anyone who is confused about what a health benefit plan really looks like,” Democratic Sen. Pat Spearman, the bill’s co-sponsor, said.

An amendment to the bill would require hospitals to provide patients with information regarding their right to complain and whom to notify.

“We can implement (patient advocacy) without a fiscal note,” Spearman told legislators.

Contact Jessie Bekker at jbekker@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4563. Follow @jessiebekks on Twitter.

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