107°F
weather icon Clear

Protection for pre-existing health conditions passes in Nevada

Updated May 7, 2019 - 5:54 pm

CARSON CITY — Nevada stands to become the fifth state to fully incorporate the federal Affordable Care Act’s protections for patients with pre-existing conditions into state law after unanimous passage of a bill Tuesday in the state Senate.

Assembly Bill 170, which also sets up a procedure to help health care consumers navigate and resolve problems with insurers, was rewritten to incorporate safeguards that were originally the basis of a different Senate bill that passed earlier.

The Assembly version passed on April 23 by a vote of 40-1, with Assemblywoman Robin Titus, R-Wellington, voting no. With Senate passage Tuesday, it now heads to the governor for his signature. Sen. Julia Ratti, D-Sparks, who sponsored the earlier Senate bill and carried the Assembly rewrite on the floor Tuesday, called its passage a “huge deal” amid uncertainty over the ACA’s future.

Besides its pre-existing condition protections, Assemblywoman Ellen Spiegel, D-Henderson, the bill’s prime sponsor, said the measure also would help patients with in-network provider appointments, increase access to health care, and “make coverage more affordable for Nevadans.” She was “delighted” the bill was heading to the governor’s desk.

The Affordable Care Act, nicknamed Obamacare, prohibits insurance companies from charging more or refusing coverage to patients with existing health problems that put them at higher risk to insure, such as cancer or diabetes. Nevada, among other states, wants to enshrine its patient protections in state law amid lawsuits that seek to dismantle or kill the federal law. A 2018 lawsuit brought by Texas and 19 other states challenged an underlying component of the ACA, the tax penalty for individuals who don’t obtain health insurance.

The individual mandate has withstood repeated legal challenge. But its associated tax penalty was reduced to zero under Republican-led tax cuts approved in 2017, opening a path for ACA opponents to challenge the mandate on the ground that it was invalid without any tax to support it.

A federal judge agreed in December, throwing out the health care law entirely. The ruling is on hold while the case is appealed. Two of the original states that brought the challenge, Wisconsin and Maine, have dropped out, while 21 states, including Nevada, have signed on to support the federal law.

With the federal law’s protections written into state statute, Ratti said, “at least here in Nevada, even if we lose the Affordable Care Act, you will not be discriminated against based on your health status — it just won’t let that happen.”

Four other states — Colorado, Massachusetts, New York, and Virginia — have incorporated all of the ACA’s pre-existing protections into their laws, and 14 others have done so partially. Nine partial-adoption states and the District of Columbia would see their local protections voided if the corresponding ACA provisions are nullified.

Contact Bill Dentzer at bdentzer@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-0661. Follow @DentzerNews on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
The Right Take New Education Funding Plan - VIDEO
On Monday, Senate Education Committee chair Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, released a new education funding formula. For years, many Democrat politicians have criticized the current education funding formula, called the Nevada Plan. They claim it’s old and outdated. Their biggest beef is that it doesn’t allocate more money for students who are English Language Learners or live in poverty. The theory is that it’s harder to educate those students and so they need additional services, which costs additional money.
Al Gore Speaks At UNLV About Climate Change - Video
Former Vice President of the United States Al Gore talks to an audience at UNLV about the effects of Climate change and how to switch to renewable sources of energy.
Forum on Wages and Working People Highlights - VIDEO
Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, and John Hickenlooper speak in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nevada Politics Today Valerie Weber - VIDEO
Valerie Weber sits down with Victor Joecks to discuss her policies and why she is running for Ward 2 of the Las Vegas City Council.
May-Brown describes why some with disabilities need the subminimum wage - VIDEO
Eliminating the subminimum wage will end training and work opportunities for some members of the disabled community. Instead of doing something productive, they would be relegated to adult day care. That’s according to Tracy May-Brown, Opportunity Village’s director of advocacy, board and government relations.
THE LATEST
Sisolak signs public records reform bill into law

Gov. Steve Sisolak signed a bill that strengthens Nevada’s public records law, making it easier and cheaper for people to get public records and providing for fines if public agencies willfully flout the law.