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Is Health Reform a Great “Freaking Deal” for Nevada?

April 22, 2010

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Gov. Gibbons and former New York Gov. Pataki kicked off the week pushing to rework the federal health care reform bill, but lawmakers in Carson City got a different message yesterday. Jon Sasser, statewide advocacy director for Legal Service, paraphrased Vice-President Joe Biden, telling members of the Legislative Committee on Health Care that the legislation is, quote, "a big freaking deal" for Nevada.

"I would go further to say it's one great freaking deal for Nevada; for an investment of some $550 million for the next decade, we will receive some five-and-a-half billion in healthcare funding from the federal government. That's an 11-to-one return on our money."

Congressman Dean Heller joined Pataki in condemning the health care law, criticizing it as lacking real reform. Sasser says Nevadans need to factor in the cost of doing nothing, because health costs would continue to rise, while the state received no new money from the federal government.

Sasser told lawmakers that without health care reform, the state can't keep doing business as usual because every day more Nevadans lose health coverage. He says that leaves local hospitals providing more services that they are not reimbursed for-and in the end those costs are paid by taxpayers.

"The trend is exploding uncompensated costs to over a billion dollars in 2009, while the percentage of patients with insurance is dropping rapidly."

While opponents argue the costs are too high, Sasser says it's a real bargain in the long run. He says not only will Nevada cover 153 thousand additional people through Medicaid, hundreds of thousands more will get an estimated $4 billion in subsidies to purchase private insurance.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NV