CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Gov. Brian Sandoval said Tuesday he’ll support expanding Medicaid eligibility in Nevada as called for under the federal health care law to provide coverage for the state’s neediest residents.
In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, Sandoval said expanding coverage will add 78,000 residents to the state’s Medicaid rolls, but save the state $16 million in mental health programs that otherwise would be paid for out of the state general fund.
The first-term Republican governor said while he opposed the health care law, his decision will help tens of thousands of people. About 22 percent, or 604,000 Nevadans, are uninsured.
He added that his budget to be released to lawmakers in January will propose reducing taxes paid by small businesses to help them afford insurance coverage for their employees. He will also ask the Legislature to support a “cost-sharing” copayment for recipients who receive Medicaid services.
“I don’t think it’s any secret I’ve never been an advocate for the Affordable Care Act,” Sandoval said.
But after weighing the options, he said it was in the state’s best interest to expand coverage for the poor.
“It would cost the state $16 million more not to opt in,” he said.
U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, who helped usher the health care law through Congress, commended Sandoval “for taking this bipartisan step.”