Gov. Brian Sandoval says he'll support expanding Medicaid eligibility in Nevada as called for under the federal health care law.
Sandoval tells The Associated Press expanding coverage will add 78,000 residents to the state's Medicaid rolls, but save the state $16 million in mental health programs that otherwise would be paid for out of the state general fund.
The first-term Republican governor says while he opposed the health care law, his decision will help tens of thousands of people.
He adds that his budget will propose reducing taxes paid by small businesses to help them afford insurance coverage for their employees.
Sandoval made his decision Tuesday to commit to covering people up to 138% of the federal poverty level beginning in 2014. (AP)
Governor Brian Sandoval released this statement:
"Though I have never liked the Affordable Care Act because of the individual mandate it places on citizens, the increased burden on businesses and concerns about access to health care, the law has been upheld by the Supreme Court. As such, I am forced to accept it as today's reality and I have decided to expand Nevada's Medicaid coverage.
"My fiscal year 2014-2015 budget will provide 78,000 additional Nevadans with health insurance coverage through Medicaid, which is estimated to save the state general fund approximately $17 million dollars in mental health savings. My executive budget will also help Nevada businesses cope with the burden placed on them by decreasing the modified business tax. My decision to opt-in assists the neediest Nevadans and helps some avoid paying a health-care tax penalty. As part of my proposal, I will also call upon the Legislature to pass Medicaid patient responsibility cost-sharing measures.
"I will commit to working with the Legislature if anything changes at the federal level. At any point during the Legislative session, if there is any sign of change at the state or federal level, it may alter my support for expansion."
Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following statement this evening:
"This is wonderful for the people of Nevada and for the thousands of Nevadans who now will have health care. I commend Governor Sandoval for taking this bipartisan step. This is a win-win, it will save the state money, is good for the economy, good for employers and most importantly will help people. I worked hard to pass this legislation and I couldn't be happier that the Governor has made this decision. "
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