Nevada recently adopted a law that increases the state’s role in healthcare, a move that is being closely watched as an experiment in what the future of healthcare might look like across the nation.
Nevada’s Democratic lawmakers say the law, passed at the end of May and signed this month by the governor, will reduce costs for consumers by creating a “public option” that would have private insurers offer lower-priced health plans. Republicans and healthcare industry officials say it represents government overreach and could drive healthcare providers out of business.
Meanwhile, Congress is seeking public comment on a national version of a public-option structure. A public option generally involves a government-run health insurance agency that is lower-priced and competes with commercial insurers, but there are many variations that are being explored.
Democratic lawmakers in several states say they are frustrated by the sluggish pace of federal action and are moving ahead with their own plans. Washington state was the first to pass a public option, which took effect this year, and Colorado Democratic Gov. Jared Polis signed his state’s public option legislation Wednesday. Democratic lawmakers in Illinois, New Mexico and Oregon also have expressed interest in increasing their states’ role in healthcare.
In Nevada, where Democrats control the governorship and state Legislature, the law requires some insurers to bid to offer plans starting in 2026 on the public option. The goal is to have these plans priced 5% less than other popular, mid-priced plans by average that comply with the Affordable Care Act.