(Sean Whaley/Nevada News Bureau) – Gov. Jim Gibbons today asked Nevada’s Congressional delegation to oppose the U.S. Senate health care legislation, saying a mandated expansion of the Medicaid program would cost the state $613 million in general fund dollars between 2014 and 2019.
Under the plan being pushed by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., the state’s Medicaid program, which provides medical care to the poor, would see an expansion of 41,000 recipients to the rolls in 2014. By 2019, Nevada’s Medicaid population would expand by 60 percent.
The bill would also remove existing state options in the Medicaid program, essentially federalizing the program, Gibbons said.
In response, Reid spokesman Jon Summers said Gibbons is playing politics on an important piece of legislation and “using fuzzy math to do it.”
Summers said the bill will cut insurance premiums for Nevadans by as much as $1,600 a year, provide tax credits for up to 24,000 small businesses, and provide the state of Nevada with more than $8 billion to cover Nevadans in need. All of this will be accomplished while cutting the national deficit by nearly $130 billion over the next 10 years, he said.
Gibbons said the proposal would also increase taxes on Nevada businesses and individuals directly through new taxes on existing health plans, an increase in Medicare payroll taxes, taxing Medicaid managed care plans, eliminating the itemized medical expense deduction and more.
Individuals will also be forced to fund the $1.7 billion federal Medicaid “cost share” through their federal income taxes. Estimates from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office forecast premiums in the individual market will rise significantly faster than they would under current law.
The bill would also grant the federal government a historic level of authority over the health care industry through dangerous levels of discretion granted to the secretary of Health and Human Services.
“At the beginning of the health reform debate, the Senate Majority Leader and the Obama Administration promised their proposals would lower costs in the private market, expand access to individuals, and allow citizens to keep their current coverage if they are satisfied,” Gibbons said. “In reality, this bill will cripple or bankrupt the state’s general fund, costing taxpayers money at a time they can least afford it.
“The last thing we need is the federal government trying to solve our problems with resources we, as a nation, do not have,” he said. “Senator Reid has lost sight of what’s best for Nevada.”
Summers said: “It’s hard to imagine why the governor of a state that is suffering so much is so opposed to helping the people who need it the most.”