Nevada on verge of universal health care — if GOP governor doesn't stand in the way


The Democratic Nevada state legislature just passed a "Medicaid for All" plan. Its fate now rests in the hands of Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Since Donald Trump assumed office, Republicans at every level have attacked health care coverage for the poor and sick.

The House GOP wants to kick 23 million people off their insurance. Meanwhile, Republican states like Kentucky and Texas have been trying to gut health services, and in Ohio, 70,000 people will lose their coverage after insurers there pulled out of the exchanges due to the GOP's sabotage.

In Nevada, however, Democrats are pushing things in the opposite direction: They just passed a universal health care bill.

AB 374, passed on Friday by the Democratic-controlled state legislature, would essentially establish "Medicaid for All." Under the bill, anyone eligible for tax credits on the state health exchange would be allowed to buy into Medicaid, thus creating the "public option" that has long been sought to fill the coverage gaps in Obamacare.

The details of how much it would cost to buy in, and what sort of deductibles and cost-sharing the plans would have, are yet to be determined. But because Medicaid can buy health care at a huge discount, the cost will almost certainly be lower than equivalent private plans, giving essentially anyone who wants it access to coverage.

But the bill faces a big hurdle: Republican Governor Brian Sandoval — a very moderate Republican, but a Republican nonetheless.

So far, Sandoval has not said whether he will sign the bill or veto it. But by passing this first-of-its-kind bill, Democrats have put the pressure on him.

And regardless of what Sandoval does, this bill can serve as a model for other liberal states, including California, where Democrats face tough obstacles to their own single-payer bill.

Nevada's Medicaid for All push reaffirms Democrats as the party of working people, and of serious policy ideas. In the age of Trump, this kind of leadership and advocacy is more vital than ever before.