Las Vegas Sun

August 21, 2014

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Grant to aid 400 waiting for Medicare

Federal money will buy health insurance for Nevadans aged 60 to 64

Older adults will receive health insurance and other benefits as the result of a $20 million federal grant to the State Health Division.

The money will be distributed in $4 million annual increments for five years. About $3.3 million of the $4 million per year from the Health Resources Services Administration will be used to pay insurance premiums for uninsured, low-income 60- to 64-year-olds, state officials said.

There are 479,000 Nevadans without health insurance, state officials estimate, and about 21,000 who are 60 to 64 years old. About 14,700 of them would meet income thresholds to qualify for assistance through the grant. To qualify, the uninsured older adults must have incomes less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level, which works out to $21,660 for an individual and $44,100 for a family of four.

Officials estimate that 400 people will be insured with the $3.3 million.

The older adults were chosen as the beneficiaries of the grant because they’re more prone to chronic heart disease, strokes, diabetes and cancer, state officials wrote in their grant proposal. In addition to improving the quality of life of the people who receive the care, providing the older adults with health care will save money for government insurance programs, reduce spending on indigent care and increase revenue for health care providers and hospitals.

About $600,000 a year will support Great Basin HealthNet in Southern Nevada and Access to Healthcare Network in Northern Nevada, two nonprofit organizations that connect people to health resources.

The state’s primary care office will receive $100,000 annually to manage the program.

Christine Roden, manager of the primary care office, said the money will also be used to create The Center for Sustainable Healthcare at the University of Nevada, Reno. The think tank will come up with a plan to continue the programs when the five-year grant expires.

The grants to increase health coverage in the states have been offered since 2000. Until this grant, which was announced this month, Nevada had been one of four states that had not applied for the funding.

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