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KUNR Today: Nevada Lawmakers Consider Public Health Care Option, Wildfire Bills

An image of Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro. She is wearing a face mask and looking away from the camera.
David Calvert
The Nevada Independent
Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro inside the Legislature on Tuesday, March 9, in Carson City, Nev.

Here are your local news headlines for the morning of Thursday, Apr. 29, 2021.

Senate Democrats Unveil State-Sponsored Public Option Healthcare Bill
By Paul Boger

Senate Democrats have unveiled a bill that would create a state-sponsored public health care option in Nevada.

Senate Bill 420 would require insurers that bid to provide coverage to the state’s Medicaid population to also apply to offer a public option plan. Similar to coverage offered under the federal Affordable Care Act, the plans would be operated by private insurers and sold on and off the state’s healthcare exchange.

Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro said a public option will help expand access to health care for underserved communities, especially those in rural areas.

“There was some indication that they might lose some additional providers at some point out in some of the rural communities," Cannizzaro said, speaking to reporters Wednesday. “This is a way that we can start to ensure that those providers stay there because we know that people are going to have access to care.”

The measure also looks to reduce overall premiums by requiring providers to place a 5% markdown on the plan and ties future premium increases to Medicare’s Economic Index.

Lawmakers approved a similar measure in 2017 allowing residents to buy into the state’s Medicaid program. That measure was vetoed by then-Gov. Brian Sandoval.

California Mulls Letting Adults Add Parents To Health Plans
By The Associated Press

A bill moving through the California Legislature would make the state the only one in the U.S. to let adults add their parents as dependents on their health insurance. Federal law allows adults to keep their children on their health insurance plans until at least age 26. To be eligible for under the California proposal, parents would have to rely on their children for at least half of their support. Proponents say the bill would save families money by limiting their expenses. But business groups say it would increase health care costs for everyone. The proposal passed its first committee hearing Tuesday.

Nevada Lawmakers Weigh Fire-Fighting Coordination, Liability
By The Associated Press

Proposals about wildfire prevention, response and liability are advancing through the Nevada Legislature as firefighters prepare for fire season. A committee in the Nevada Legislature considered three bills on Wednesday that proposed changing liability law and helping fire agencies coordinate responses. The proposals would expand instances when local governments can sue arsonists to recoup damages and add provisions into state law about Nevada's existing Wildland Fire Protection Program. A record 16,000 square miles burned throughout the United States in 2020 and more frequent and intense wildfires are pushing lawmakers to reconsider state wildfire policies.

Improvements To U.S. Transmission Grid Coming
By Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

On Tuesday, the Department of Energy announced more than $8 billion in loans to construct and improve the country’s transmission grid, and new transmission lines could jumpstart renewable energy production in the region.

President Joe Biden wants the nation to produce 100% clean energy by the year 2035, but that won’t be easy. For example, new electrical infrastructure is badly needed to carry energy from the places where it’s produced to where it’s consumed.

Those transmission lines could be a boost for states in the Mountain West, like Wyoming, with massive wind farms and not enough transmission.

“Because you’re opening up wind and solar development that’s been kind of stranded and bottled up in America’s rural areas and can’t be delivered to load centers,” said Michael Goggin with Grid Strategies, a Washington, D.C.-based power sector consulting firm. He said the loans could also create a lot of jobs, but before construction can even begin, transmission lines need approval through several agencies, which can take decades.

COVID-19 Vaccinations Per Day Are Declining In Nevada
By Lucia Starbuck

COVID-19 vaccination rates are slowing down in Nevada. The latest data from the state’s dashboard shows the state administered an average of roughly 16,000 shots per day over the last two weeks. That’s significantly lower than the more than 24,000 shots administered daily in mid-April.

Health officials say they’re unsure how the recent nationwide pause on the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine might have affected demand. Nearly a third of Nevadans 16 and older have completed their vaccination and nearly 45% have received their first shot.*

You can learn more about COVID-19 vaccinations in Nevada here, along with the state’s COVID-19 dashboard here, and Washoe County’s here.

Lucia Starbuck is a corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project.

*Editor’s note: A previous version of this story stated nearly a third of Nevadans 16 and older have received at least one COVID-19 vaccination. That is not correct; nearly a third of Nevadans 16 and older have completed their vaccination and nearly 45% have received their first shot.

Number Of Nevadans Late To Receive Second COVID-19 Vaccine Dose Surpasses 100,000
By KUNR Staff

More than 122,000 Nevadans are late to receive their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Accordingto the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the state has started tracking how many people are more than four days late getting their second dose of the vaccine. Both shots are necessary for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to be most effective.

So far, more than 1 million Nevadans have gotten at least one shot.

WCHD And Reno Rodeo To Share Livestock Events Center
By KUNR Staff

The Reno Rodeo will share the Livestock Events Center’s parking lot alongside the Washoe County Health District’s vaccination site.

Accordingto the Reno Gazette-Journal, health officials will move the vaccination site to the west end of the Livestock Events Center during the Rodeo in mid-June. Officials made the decision this week after evaluating the costs of moving to another location. They also voiced concerns over the possible confusion that could occur if the vaccine site were to move.

Paul Boger is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
Lucia Starbuck is an award-winning journalist covering politics, focusing on democracy and solutions for KUNR Public Radio. Her goal is to provide helpful and informative coverage for everyday Nevadans.
Maggie Mullen is a fifth generation Wyomingite, born and raised in Casper. She is currently a Masters candidate in American Studies and will defend her thesis on female body hair in contemporary American culture this May. Before graduate school, she earned her BA in English and French from the University of Wyoming. Maggie enjoys writing, cooking, her bicycle, swimming in rivers and lakes, and most any dog.
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