As states decide whether to proceed with the implementation of President Obama’s health care law, Nevada has created two different paths depending on the outcome of the presidential election.
According to Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R), there are a large number of variables in play as he prepares his 2013-15 budget, including who wins the November presidential election. Sandoval said a decision on whether to expand Nevada’s Medicaid program to cover newly eligible residents under Obama’s law will wait for that result, since Republican nominee Mitt Romney has said he wants to repeal the law.
The state Department of Health and Human Services is therefore preparing two different budgets—one with the Medicaid expansion and one without.
“Yes, we’re looking at both scenarios,” Sandoval said. “If you’ve watched the debates, which I’m sure you have, Gov. Romney has declared that he is going to seek to modify, if not remove, the Affordable Care Act, which obviously would have a large impact on our budgeting process.”
“When we’re in the middle of a budget process we have to account for all the variables,” Sandoval said. “There are some big variables right now.”
Awaiting Federal Guidance
According to State Budget Director Jeff Mohlenkamp the state is also still waiting on some guidance from the federal Department of Health and Human Services before a Medicaid expansion decision can be made. He notes Nevada is likely to experience an increased Medicaid caseload irrespective of the expansion called for under Obama’s law, because Nevada residents who are currently eligible for Medicaid but have not yet enrolled will sign up in response to the individual mandate.
Sandoval, who has already taken steps toward implementing a state health insurance exchange as mandated by Obama’s law, said additional necessary federal guidance concerning the Medicaid expansion is unlikely to arrive until after the election.
“There are several points of guidance that we’re waiting to hear from, and we simply have not received that from Health and Human Services at the federal level,” Sandoval said. “As we receive further information we’ll be able to more narrow down exactly what the future budget is going to be.”
Sandoval will present his budget to the Nevada Legislature in mid-January 2013.
Sean Whaley ([email protected]) writes for the Nevada News Bureau, where a version of this article previously appeared. Used with permission.