HHS Director: Healthcare Exchange Could Stay if Reform Law Dies

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HHS Director: Healthcare Exchange Could Stay if Reform Law Dies

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Brandon Rittiman/KUNR

HHS Director Mike Willden checks over his materials before briefing an assembly committee on his department's budget.

Even though Nevada is suing over the federal healthcare law, the Governor plans to pay to enact it.

There's a half million dollars in the budget to set up the Nevada's health insurance exchange.

The health insurance exchange is a key part of healthcare reform. Conservatives are hoping the Supreme Court will overturn that law. But even if that happens, the healthcare exchange might not die, according to Health and Human Services director Mike Willden.

Willden:  "We've had some discussion with the Governor's office that it may be beneficial to Nevadans to have a health insurance exchange without the federal law."

The exchange is supposed to be a system you can use online, by phone, or in person to shop for health insurance through the state.

The idea is to pool individuals and small groups to get lower premiums for them.

Willden says even without a federal mandate, the system could do that.

Willden: "We may be able to help reduce costs, healthcare costs, make it easier for Nevadans to find health insurance so there may be some benefits even if the law is deemed to be unconstitutional."

Opponents of healthcare reform are trying to get rid of the individual mandate, which requires everyone to buy insurance. But without that mandate, the deals available on the exchange aren't likely to be as good.

If the law does stand, the exchange needs to be ready in 2014, and any state that's not making enough progress by 2013 will have its exchange taken over by the feds.

That's why Governor Sandoval is paying to set up the exchange despite the fact he opposes the healthcare law.