Las Vegas Sun

December 21, 2014

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Health Care:

Opting out by Nevada seen as unlikely by pols on both sides of the aisle

Beyond the Sun

Under the health care reform legislation now being shepherded by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, states could decide to reject the government’s offer of a public insurance plan.

Both Republicans and Democrats in Nevada say it’s hard to imagine legislators passing a law against the state’s participating in the public option, given the current makeup of the Legislature. Democrats hold a veto-proof majority in the Assembly and a two-vote advantage in the Senate.

Although details of the public option and how precisely states would opt out are still unclear, many observers expect it to require states to pass a law. Laws have to be passed by both houses of the Legislature and signed by the governor. If the governor vetoes a bill, the Legislature can override him with a two-thirds vote.

States would have until 2014 to opt out.

Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, said he has opposed including a public option in health care reform because “it’s unfair competition to existing practices and insurance.”

He added, though, “Opting out is not likely to happen in Nevada if we continue to have both houses controlled by Democrats.”

Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, hailed the inclusion of the public option in the Senate bill as a major accomplishment for Reid and Democrats.

“If increased competition means our constituents would have lower health care costs, why would we pass a law to opt out?” she said.

Democrats have long held control of the Assembly in Nevada, and last election took control of the Senate.

Looking at the electoral map today, a major shift in the makeup of the Assembly and Senate is unlikely in the next election, in November 2010.

With term limits forcing out a number of incumbents, an unprecedented number of seats are competitive. But because of Democrats’ voter registration gains, particularly fueled by last year’s presidential election, Republicans are playing defense to protect the seats they currently control. Democrats, meanwhile, are shooting to gain a veto-proof majority in the state Senate.

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