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Healthcare A Priority For Dems in 2019 Session

A stethoscope on a desk
Alexa Ard
KUNR Public Radio
Lawmakers in Nevada passed several healthcare-related bills during the 2019 session.

Lawmakers in Nevada passed a number of bills aimed at improving the state's healthcare system this session. To help break some of it down, KUNR's Senior Political Reporter Paul Boger sat down with Megan Messerly, a healthcare reporter with The Nevada Independentto discuss some of those new laws.

Perhaps one of the biggest healthcare-related bills to make it out if the session dealt with surprise medical bills, especially those associated with emergency care. Messerly says AB469 would limit the amount out-of-network providers can charge in those circumstances.

“The way it does that is it takes patients out of the middle by only requiring them to pay whatever in-network coinsurance, copay or deductible they would have normally had to pay for an in-network hospital,” Messerly explains. “It basically leaves it to the hospitals in the insurance companies to fight it out. There's this mechanism in the bill the figures out how everyone gets paid, but the big thing is it takes the patient out of the middle.”

Many of the state’s new healthcare-related laws were sponsored by members of the legislature’s Democratic-majority -- a group who ran heavily on healthcare during the 2018 election.

“I think it definitely was a priority for Democrats. I mean, one of the things that they passed this session were [the] codification of protections for people with pre-existing conditions. That was something Democrats had campaigned on. Republicans even voice support for [it] Basically taking those pre-existing condition protections that are in the Affordable Care Act and putting them into state law in case something should happen.”

But Messerly goes on to note that while healthcare seemed to be a priority for lawmakers, there are still a number of issues plaguing the system, like doctor shortages. “I think Democrats took a step in the direction of expanding access to healthcare,” she says. “But ultimately, there are a lot of other solutions that I think they would have liked to pursue this session that maybe we’ll see come forward in future sessions.”

Paul Boger is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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