Health Law Research Spotlight: Shepherding Nevada’s Medicaid Program through the COVID-19 Pandemic

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Enrollment in Nevada’s Medicaid program has increased dramatically this year – by over 18% in just 9 months – as the country continues to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences. As Administrator for the Nevada Division of Health Care Financing & Policy, Advisory Board member Suzanne Bierman, JD, MPH, has overseen this rapid expansion to ensure eligible patients receive the care that they need. During this global health pandemic, it has been more important than ever to redouble efforts to provide Nevadans with information on affordable health insurance options. Health insurance is critical to provide access to quality health care and to protect Nevada’s families from financial ruin that can result without the financial protection of health insurance.

 

Before the pandemic, Nevada had the sixth-highest rate of people who lacked health insurance in the nation. Of the approximately 400,000 uninsured, about 225,000 were estimated to be eligible but unenrolled for affordable coverage options such as Medicaid. Reaching all of them with the right information is a big challenge, and the state employs a number of ways to make contact. Many qualify for Medicaid or Nevada Check Up (Children’s Health Insurance Program) and automatically receive correspondence from the Division of Welfare and Supportive Services about their eligibility. And people can apply for Medicaid at any time at 1.0 Apply for Assistance (nv.gov). In addition, Nevada Health Link, operated by the state’s health insurance exchange, has an annual open enrollment period for all insurance plans when thousands of people apply for insurance (happening now through January 15, 2021, at https://www.nevadahealthlink.com/).

 

In her role as Division Administrator at the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, Ms. Bierman manages Nevada’s Medicaid and Nevada Check Up, which together provide health insurance coverage to approximately 25% of the state’s population. Ms. Bierman shares this expertise with UNLV students through frequent guest lectures in the Public Health Law course.