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May 5, 2015

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Federal official tells state lawmakers no ‘contingency plan’ if health care law is overturned

CARSON CITY - A federal official says there is no contingency plan if President Barack Obama’s health care law is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Herb K. Schultz, regional director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, told state legislators at a briefing on the new law Thursday that he is confident the court will uphold it.

“We’re focusing 100 percent on implementation,” he said Thursday. “There is not a contingency plan.”

Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, asked what would happen if all or parts of the law are found unconstitutional.

Schultz replied all the efforts now are on “outreach and education.”

In Nevada, the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange has been established to prepare for the changed called for in the law. Among the changes: no one can be denied insurance coverage because of a pre-existing medical condition.

Assemblyman Steven Brooks, D-Las Vegas, the only other lawmaker to attend the briefing, asked if the state’s computer system would have to be updated to accommodate implementation of the law.

Mike Willden, director of the state Department of Health and Human Services, said groups are studying that question. He said the system has to be established so the various programs can talk to each other.

Two weeks ago state officials estimated the president’s health care plan could cost Nevada an additional $574 million to cover the additional persons who would qualify for Medicaid from 2014 to 2019.

The plan would allow people with higher incomes to be eligible for Medicaid, the federal-state program to provide medical care for the poor. And there are estimates there will be 120,000 to 150,000 new eligible participants on the Medicaid program.

Schultz said the federal government will pick up 100 percent in reimbursement to physicians in the first three years. After that, 90 percent will be paid by the federal government and 10 percent by the state.

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