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August 23, 2014

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Sharron Angle files initiative to outlaw health exchanges in Nevada

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Karoun Demirjian

Sharron Angle speaks to a group of Rick Santorum supporters at Santorum’s campaign headquarters in Las Vegas, Feb. 4, 2012.

CARSON CITY — Conservative activist and failed U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle filed an initiative petition Tuesday to outlaw health insurance exchanges in Nevada.

Angle, a crusader of conservative causes, filed the petition with the secretary of state's office in Carson City. The proposed constitutional amendment would prohibit state or local government entities from creating or maintaining a health exchange allowed for by the federal health care reform law.

Called the Healthcare Freedom Protection Act, backers will need to collect more than 101,000 signatures by June 17 to qualify for the ballot. Voters would then have to approve it in November and in the 2016 general election.

Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval opposed the health care reform law that requires everyone to have health insurance or face tax penalties. But he supported Nevada creating and operating its own online insurance marketplace for consumers to shop for and purchase insurance, saying it was in the state's best interest to manage its own online portal than to cede control to the federal government, which would then bill the state.

Nevada is one of 16 states that formed their own exchanges.

The petition, in its description of effect, said if the constitutional amendment is approved, "the federal government will be responsible for carrying out the duties currently performed by the exchange in Nevada pursuant to the provisions of Obamacare."

State officials have said fees attached to policies sold on the exchange to cover costs are less in Nevada than those imposed by the federal government.

Angle did not immediately return messages Tuesday seeking comment.

Angle is a former Nevada assemblywoman who emerged from a packed field of Republican contenders seeking to unseat Democratic U.S. Senate Majority Leader in 2010. She lost by 41,000 votes but the race elevated her stature among tea party aligned Republicans.

She did not run for elected office in 2012, saying instead she was focusing on making a documentary film about voter fraud.

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