Nevada State Senator Files Suit To Scuttle Public Health Care Insurance Option

Nevada State Sen. Robin Titus, R-Wellington, along with the National Taxpayers Union, filed a lawsuit over the constitutionality of legislation passed to bring a state-managed public health care insurance option to Nevada.

The suit was filed in Nevada’s First Judicial District Court in January challenging Senate Bill 420, passed during the 2021 legislative session.

“My decades of experience as a family physician in rural Nevada and my desire to stand up for Nevada patients are what led me to public service in the first place. I opposed SB 420 as a member of the Nevada Assembly because creating a state government-controlled ‘public option’ will worsen our state’s already severe shortage of doctors and nurses, harm Nevadans’ access to quality health care, and drive costs even higher,” Titus said.

The law is set to be implemented in 2026.

What the challenges are to SB 420

SB 420 violates three provisions within the state’s constitution, according to the suit. Titus and the Taxpayers Union are seeking “injunctive and declaratory” relief.

  • The legal challenge argues that SB 420 doesn’t meet the necessary state constitutional requirement that any law passed that generates public revenue must pass by a two-thirds majority in both the Nevada Assembly and State Senate, which didn’t occur in 2021 when the bill was signed into law by then-Gov. Steve Sisolak.
  • The second part of the challenge said the passage of SB 420 gives too much power to state officials to use taxpayer money without legislative oversight.
  • The third argument is that the passage of SB 420 violates the separation of powers principle in the Nevada Constitution. SB 420’s passage “impermissibly delegates lawmaking authority to executive branch agency directors” without establishing appropriate standards, the suit states.

During the 2021 legislative session, Democrats, holding majorities in both chambers, passed SB 420. The bill secured approval in the Nevada Assembly with a 26-15 vote and in the state Senate with a 12-9 margin.

How the public option could be rolled out in Nevada

Gov. Joe Lombardo, who was named as a defendant in the lawsuit, once called on lawmakers to repeal the law and called the public option “bull—-” on the campaign trail.

Near the end of 2023, Lombardo announced a new direction for implementing the public option. In October, Lombardo announced plans for a “Market Stabilization Program.”

The move will establish a reinsurance program as part of the implementation of the public option.

“Reinsurance is a proven method of protecting consumers and will help Nevadans avoid the higher costs of insurance they would face through the cost-shifts driven by the public option,” Lombardo said at the time.

The governor’s office said the state would use dollars available through Nevada’s federal 1332 waiver application to fund the reinsurance program.

The waiver application was submitted on Dec. 29 by the state, just days before Titus filed suit.

When contacted by the RGJ, Lombardo communications director Elizabeth Ray said the office couldn’t comment on pending litigation.

Nevada is one of only three states, along with Colorado and Washington, to pass legislation for the establishment of a public option.


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