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Back in session after a roughly month-long August recess, the Senate this week approved legislation introduced by Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) to allow certain federal grants to bolster the use of mobile clinics in underserved communities.
Known as the MOBILE Health Care Act, the bill would “provide these communities with more resources to expand mobile health clinics,” Rosen said in a statement.
The Senate’s passage of the measure came as Rosen was working from Nevada rather than Washington due to testing positive for COVID-19. According to a Twitter post on Tuesday.
The bill, which passed the Senate unanimously Tuesday night, would expand the criteria for receiving Health Center New Access Points grants, which go to organizations that can provide primary health care services to underserved populations. served and vulnerable.
Nevada Health Centers and other Nevada clinics have come out in support of the bill. Nevada Health Centers is the state’s largest community health center program, with 17 health centers, seven offices for women, infants, and children, and three mobile health programs.
The bill would authorize the use of grant funds for the acquisition, lease, expansion or renovation of mobile medical equipment or vehicles to establish a new delivery site to provide health services to medically underserved populations. Grants could also be used for the rental, expansion or renovation of an existing community health center or the construction of a new one.
The House has yet to retake the measure before it is sent to President Joe Biden for his signature. Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV) introduced the House version of the measure last year.
Cortez Masto on private equity buying insurance companies
Senate Committees had a relatively light week with a handful of hearings. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) participated Thursday in a hearing on the trend of private equity firms buying insurance companies. Private equity firms pool funds, usually from high net worth investors, and invest those funds in companies and startups looking for a significant return on investment.
Cortez Masto expressed concern about the trend and questioned whether privately owned insurance companies might be too profit-driven at the expense of providing reliable coverage. She underscored her point by pointing out that many businesses that purchased business interruption insurance were not covered for the shutdowns imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“If insurance companies don’t cover pandemic risk, even if businesses pay for it [and] if there are risks associated with private equity and there is, heaven forbid, an economic disaster, how can we guarantee that this coverage will exist by the insurance companies? Cortez Masto asked.
Maryland Insurance Commissioner Kathleen Birrane, who appeared before the panel on behalf of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, said insurance companies must follow specific regulations and that these would not allow privately owned insurers to conduct their business differently.
“Insurance companies are subject to a very clear set of rules and guidelines about what insurance companies can do, from the types of investments they can make to the credit they get for those investments, to the risk-based capital standards that are in place,” says Birrane. “None of these are different because the owner is a private equity firm, so we continue to monitor and regulate the performance of the business, regardless of who owns it.”
As for businesses that thought they were covered for pandemic shutdowns, Birrane said many insurance contracts tended not to cover such circumstances.
“These contractual terms, in effect, mostly exempted business interruptions caused by things like contamination, which would fall under a pandemic, or which would not result from covered physical peril,” Birrane said. “So from a contractual standpoint, those coverage gaps were built into the policies and unfortunately a lot of business owners weren’t really aware that those limitations existed.”
On the track
While the Senate was back in Washington, many House members were campaigning in their constituencies.
That includes Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV), who was joined by Rep. David Price (D-NC), a House Appropriations Committee veteran. They visited the Bonneville Transit Center in Las Vegas and the Dina Titus Estates, an affordable housing complex for people with disabilities named for Titus in 2006. Titus served in the Legislature for 20 years before being elected in Congress in 2008.
The two also met with the Southern Nevada Regional Transportation Commission (RTC). Price, who leads the appropriations committee’s transportation subcommittee, helped Titus secure $6.7 million for the RTC.
The funds were part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and will help the RTC purchase more hydrogen fuel cell electric buses, solar-powered lighting for bus stops and software for pedestrian detection and collision avoidance for RTC buses.
Meanwhile, Lee and Gov. Steve Sisolak held a roundtable with legal experts on the recent Supreme Court Dobbs vs. Jackson decision annulling the constitutional right to abortion.
Both have made the issue a central theme of their re-election campaigns.
Dr. David Orentlicher, a professor at UNLV Boyd School of Law, who attended the event, urged voters to vote.
“We have become complacent, perhaps, and rely on the Supreme Court to protect us,” Orentlicher said. “Turns out they don’t. So yes, we need to make sure that we use our votes to secure our rights.
Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV) held a call Wednesday with veterans to highlight the benefits of the recently enacted PACT Act, which expanded veterans’ health care to cover illnesses associated with combustion chambers.
For a full look at the measures delegates supported or opposed this week, see The Nevada IndependentCongressional vote tracking and other information below.
SEN. Catherine Cortez Masto
S.4811 – A bill to establish a long-term comprehensive United States strategy and policy for the Pacific Islands and other purposes.
S.4805 – A bill providing for emergency acquisition authority in the event of an armed attack on a US ally or partner by a US foreign adversary.