State legislature tackles reproductive rights, gender affirming care, and other healthcare issues
Nevada’s healthcare system has a lot of issues. There are too few doctors, for starters. The state also has the highest percentage of one-star acute-care hospitals of any state in the country. That’s the lowest rating the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services gives.
So, it should be no surprise that Nevada’s lawmakers spend much of their time in Carson City looking for ways to improve that system. Here’s a notable handful of the dozens of healthcare-related bills that made it to the governor’s desk and into law this year.
Abortion Protections Extended (SB131) Sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, a Democrat from Clark County, the law guarantees protections for anyone who comes to Nevada seeking a legal abortion, regardless of where they live. Providers have reported seeing as much as a 200-percent increase in patients since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade.
Reproductive Rights Amendment (SJR7) This resolution, passed along party lines, would add reproductive freedom to the Nevada Constitution and cover a wide range of treatments. Lawmakers must approve the measure again in 2025 before voters see it on the 2026 ballot.
Required Coverage for Gender-Affirming Care (SB163) Insurance companies now must pay for medically necessary gender-affirming care. The law also eliminates exclusions that allow insurers to reclassify some procedures as “cosmetic.” Though Democrats passed the law on a party-line vote, Republican Governor Joe Lombardo made headlines when he bucked national trends and signed the bill into law.
Bill of Rights for People with Disabilities (SB315) The law requires that people with disabilities — including students and older adults — be treated with dignity and respect and have the right to bodily autonomy. Supporters say the statute is needed to ensure that all individuals have the right to make their own decisions about finance or where they should live. It also fast-tracks the development of home and community-based care plans.
Rural Provider Loan Repayment (AB45) Sponsored by the State Treasurer’s Office, this law creates a student loan repayment program giving healthcare providers up to $120,000 to work in rural communities for five years.
Healthcare Stipends for Long-term Substitute Teachers (AB282) Nevada suffers from a teacher shortage that has forced districts to rely increasingly on long-term substitutes. This measure, which passed with bipartisan support, provides a $450 healthcare stipend for substitute teachers who work more than 30 days in a row.
Raising Medicaid Rates (SB435) Passed unanimously, this law allows privately run hospitals to levy a state-assessed “Provider Tax” of no more than six percent. Those tax collections are then earmarked for Medicaid payments and matched by the federal government, meaning more cash for doctors and behavioral health specialists who accept Medicaid.
Postpartum Care Extension (SB232) Medicaid covers more than half of the children born in Nevada. Under the new law, the state’s Medicaid program will extend postpartum coverage beyond the 60 days required by the federal government to one year after giving birth, an essential step to improving the health of both mothers and children, proponents say.