Sisolak’s health care specifics to be determined

Updated October 11, 2018 - 10:34 pm

Either Steve Sisolak doesn’t know how to improve Nevada health care or he thinks he can’t get elected telling voters what he wants to do. Neither possibility is comforting. But that’s the conclusion you’re left with after reading the health care plan he released Monday.

As I wrote last week, Democrat gubernatorial nominee Sisolak refuses to tell Nevada voters what he would do if elected. That’s especially significant because, barring a miracle, Democrats will control both houses of the Legislature. That would give Democrats unified control of state government for the first time in decades.

You would expect Sisolak’s 2,200-word health care proposal to provide details. It doesn’t give many. Sisolak’s main plan is to form a commission to tell him what to do. Seriously.

“I will create a Patient Protection Commission to bring together patients, physicians, providers and policymakers to move Nevada’s health care system forward,” the plan reads. “The Patient Protection Commission will look comprehensively at how Nevada can fix the problems that plague our health care system. It will have 100 days to make recommendations that can be passed through the Legislature and signed into law.”

That reads like a parody of Sisolak’s unwillingness to be specific, but it isn’t. Sisolak lists 13 specific goals. In 11 of these areas, he will “instruct the Patient Protection Commission to recommend” changes.

This would be like going to the doctor and finding yourself nodding along as he says, “My plan will help you lose weight, gain muscle, decrease stress and improve energy.”

“Wow, this is great,” you think, until the doctor concludes with, “I don’t know how to do this, but I’m going to form a commission. In 100 days, they’ll come back and tell me what to tell you.”

You would call that doctor a “quack” and rightfully so.

Sisolak’s plan is even more absurd when you realize the Legislature meets only 120 days every two years. The governor is inaugurated in early January. Even if Sisolak appointed the commission immediately, it won’t conclude until mid-April. Assuming it takes a couple weeks to evaluate the proposals and draft bills, legislation wouldn’t be ready until late April or early May. The session ends June 3.

That’s not a serious timeline for advancing major legislation, even with a unified Democratic government. Sisolak’s been thinking about running for governor for years. He didn’t spend any of that time thinking about what he wanted to do if elected?

What should worry voters is that even if Sisolak doesn’t have a plan, legislative Democrats do. In 2017, Nevada Democrats passed a bill that would allow people to purchase Medicaid as an insurance plan. Gov. Brian Sandoval vetoed it. Anyone think Sisolak will? Say goodbye to private insurance plans when they have to compete against a government plan and subsidize the government’s losses. California Democrats want single-payer health care. What does Sisolak do if such a bill hits his desk?

His health care plan doesn’t say. Neither will he. His office didn’t return a call seeking comment.

Nevadans should listen up because what he won’t say speaks volumes.

Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Opinion section each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Contact him at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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