Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022 | 2 a.m.
As businesses across Nevada work toward economic recovery through the uncertainty of a continued coronavirus pandemic, one of the most critical steps we can take to make our communities stronger faster is to protect and prioritize our health.
When our families, friends and coworkers are safe and healthy, we have room to grow, socialize, learn, play — and work — in our communities as we did before the pandemic hit us so hard. Moving forward, our health and safety depend on our ability to access quality, affordable health care and coverage.
Early on in the pandemic, Congress recognized the need for increased access to affordable health insurance. ACA subsidies were expanded in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and millions of Americans who had lost income or had trouble affording health insurance became eligible for tax credits to purchase insurance in the federal and state-based marketplaces.
In Nevada alone, approximately 41,000 uninsured residents became newly eligible for tax credit relief, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. Because of these subsidies, tens of thousands of Nevadans now have the opportunity to access affordable, quality health coverage and health care that otherwise would have fallen outside of their financial means.
Unfortunately, these subsidies are set to expire at the end of next year unless they are made permanent in the budget package currently under consideration on Capitol Hill. If they are not made permanent, these same 41,000 Nevadans could lose their opportunity to purchase the coverage they need and deserve.
As is the case for the rest of the country, the fight against COVID-19 in Nevada is far from over. While we have reason to be optimistic, the reality is that our economic recovery is only just beginning. Even after the pandemic ends, successful efforts to rebuild our communities and our businesses will be slow and steady — and Nevada’s workers and their families deserve every resource that can be of assistance.
If the health insurance subsidies are made permanent, studies show that about 71,000 uninsured Nevadans could have access to affordable, high-quality health insurance with the help of marketplace tax credits next year. That’s 71,000 Nevadans who will not have to choose between health coverage and putting food on the table for their family or paying their bills.
Now is not the time to allow critical resources to expire. The need for increased and expanded access to affordable coverage and care will not end with the pandemic, just as Nevada’s economic recovery will not be complete when the public health crisis is over.
Our businesses — large and small — rely on a healthy, thriving workforce. When individuals are able to access the health coverage they need, they are more likely to see providers and seek the care they need, when they need it.
I urge Nevada Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen to work with their colleagues in Washington to ensure that the subsidies are made permanent in this year’s budget reconciliation.
Even as Nevada begins its recovery, our community’s health must remain a top priority. Increased access to affordable coverage is a vital next step.
Peter Guzman is president of the Latin Chamber of Commerce.
This content was originally published here.