Las Vegas Sun

September 21, 2014

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State approves $6 million contract to publicize health insurance exchange

A state board approved a $6 million marketing and branding contract for the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange today, in an effort to generate public awareness of the state-based program to help individuals buy health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

The marketing contract will be paid for through a federal grant.

Enrollment in the exchange begins in October.

Gov. Brian Sandoval, who sits on the state Board of Examiners that approved the marketing contract, emphasized that the state’s health insurance exchange would not use state general tax dollars, used to pay for things like education and health services for the poor, once federal grants run out.

“It has to stand on its own two feet,” Sandoval said after the meeting.

Sandoval opposed the federal health care legislation, known by critics as Obamacare, arguing that the mandate was unconstitutional. But he signed legislation in 2011 creating Nevada's insurance exchange. He said the state should have control over the program instead of ceding that power to the federal government.

Sandoval also announced last month that the state would expand Medicaid to cover more poor people.

Both setting up the state’s health insurance exchange and expanding Medicaid have been opposed by other Republican governors.

In August, the Board of Examiners approved a separate $72 million contract to set up the Internet-based exchange, for which the federal government also will pick up the tab.

The marketing contract with Reno-based KPS 3 Inc., runs through March 2014.

In the first year, the state expects about 118,000 people to use the exchange to purchase health insurance, a mandate for most people under the federal Affordable Care Act, according to Jon Hager, executive director of the exchange.

The first task under the contract will be to brand the exchange, and to come up with a name for it, Hager said.

Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and Secretary of State Ross Miller, who also sit on the Board of Examiners, joined Sandoval in approving the contract without any discussion.

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