I’m Cassidy Wilson, your Government Relations Manager for the Far West Division of HCA Healthcare. I look forward to sharing relevant Good Government Group updates about local, state, and national issues affecting our profession and our lives. Please reach out if you have any questions.
Right now, all eyes are focused on Nevada’s 2023 Legislative Session, which began on February 6 and will run through June 5. Democrats control a majority in both the Senate (13-8) and Assembly (27-14, with one vacancy), while Republicans have regained control of the governorship.
Governor Joe Lombardo submitted an $11 billion, two-year budget proposal on January 23, the largest proposed in state history – a $1.7 billion increase from the previous budget. The focus of the budget is increased K-12 spending, an 8% raise for state employees, and a suspension of the state’s gas tax for the next year.
Medicaid and Behavioral Health
Gov. Lombardo’s proposed budget also includes a 5% increase of Medicaid rates for medical professionals and nursing homes, and $17 million for the establishment of six new behavioral health centers throughout the state.
Legislators will consider bills such as SB 45, proposing a monthly personal needs allowance for Medicaid recipients in skilled nursing facilities, and AB 37, authorizing the establishment of the Behavioral Workforce Development Center of Nevada.
Student Loan Repayment
Two bills have been filed relating to student loan repayment for medical professionals. AB 69 would make certain behavioral healthcare providers eligible for loan repayment through the Nevada Health Services Corps, while AB 45 would create a program to repay the student loans of certain healthcare providers in underserved communities.
Use of Proceeds from Litigation Against Tobacco Manufacturers
SB 4 would use some of the proceeds from the state’s litigation against tobacco manufacturers to pay for important healthcare services such as prescription drugs and pharmaceutical services. Additionally, this bill would remove the requirement that these funds be spent exclusively on benefits for senior citizens and persons with disabilities, making the benefits more accessible to a wider range of people.
Physician Employee Ban
While it has been a longstanding practice in Nevada for physicians to work for hospitals as contractors, no law has explicitly prohibited hospitals from employing physicians. AB 11 would codify such a ban into state law, formally prohibiting most acute care hospitals and psychiatric hospitals from employing physicians for the purpose of practicing medicine, homeopathic medicine, or osteopathic medicine. Medical residents and fellows would be exempted from this law, along with some doctors working for specific types of public, nonprofit, or religious medical facilities.
The cannabis industry is set to see some changes this session with the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee proposing several overhaul bills. SB 33 revises the duties of the Cannabis Compliance Board, which is responsible for licensing and regulating individuals and businesses involved in the cannabis industry.
SB 69 and SB 31 also propose revisions to the disciplinary proceedings carried out against individuals or establishments that hold licenses or registration cards from the Cannabis Compliance Board, and the regulations governing cannabis establishments moving locations and the transfer of their license to a new location.
Gov. Lombardo’s proposed budget for 2023 includes an additional $2 billion for the state’s Pupil-Centered Funding Plan, which would result in a $2,000 increase in the per-student school funding allocation, bringing it to $12,406 per student. The Governor has also proposed $730 million for the Education Stabilization Account, an education-specific “rainy day” fund that will help secure the state’s educational future.
In conclusion, this year’s Nevada Legislative Session is shaping up to be an exciting one, with several bills proposed that could make a significant impact on the state’s healthcare and education systems. We will continue to closely monitor these proposals as they move through the legislative process and share updates as they come available.