Legislature wraps with wins and losses for cancer control
We are thrilled to share that the bill NCC had worked on for several years is now a law thanks to efforts during the 82nd Nevada Legislature, which ended session just last month. That news is great for people who need breast cancer screening – more on this below – but is tempered by a blow to youth vaping prevention funding, which wasn’t allocated for the biennium.
NCC worked with Ferrato Co. for support during the legislative session. Their team authored an end of session recap, and we are sharing a few highlights here with you.
The 2023 session, like the 2021 session and the special sessions held during the pandemic, allowed public testimony by phone, increasing the public’s access and engagement on a multitude of issues.
A strong economic recovery boosted the state’s budget from $9.6 billion to $11.8 billion. The increase was largely allocated to public education, but $110 million was given to nonprofits. NCC was not one of those funded, but some of our nonprofit partners that provide direct community support did benefit. Those organizations include Northern Nevada HOPES, Community Health Alliance, Puentes, NAMI, Roseman University of Health Sciences, Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation and Food Bank of Northern Nevada.
As mentioned, Senate Bill 330, which NCC worked on, passed and was signed into law by Gov. Lombardo on June 6. It’ll take effect Jan. 1, 2024. The law requires private commercial insurance to cover supplemental imaging tests and diagnostic imaging tests with no out-of-pocket costs to the patient. The Senate amended the bill to exclude local government public employee plans (PEBP), and the Assembly amended the bill further to comply with IRS regulations and clean up the PEBP carve out. PEBP was carved out in the initial version of the language; Medicaid and Medicare already provide the required coverage. The bill was limited to the private commercial market. The bill received unanimous votes in both the Senate and Assembly.
Senate Bill 194, a step therapy bill, also passed. NCC board member Tom McCoy worked on this bill and said the passage was a “significant victory.” He continued, “SB 194 requires certain insurers to create an online process for patients/providers to request an exemption from step therapy – fail first -- treatment. A win for healthcare access in Nevada! This legislation balances the cost containment goals of insurers with the insured’s need for access to prescribed care. A request or an appeal must be responded within two business days. However, if the health condition needs immediate attention response must be received within 24 hours. If the insurer fails to respond within the timelines – the request is deemed granted and the prescribed medication is immediately authorized.” The bill takes effect Oct. 1, 2023, for plans entered to or renewed effective Jan. 1, 2024.
In 2019, the legislature passed SB263 providing $2.5 million in funding to launch a statewide youth vaping prevention campaign. The funding was renewed in 2021, and over the past four years the state has seen a decline in youth initiating vaping or becoming regular users. Despite the progress and a slew of education to legislators on the impact of the campaigns, the funding was not included in the 2023 budget and legislators did not allocate funds to continue the efforts. NCC and tobacco control partners are continuing work to identify funding for youth vaping prevention.
NCC was thrilled to have a number of partners step up to write letters in support of several bills and either call in or attend committee meetings and sessions to testify on behalf of bills. Hearing from those impacted by laws is vital for legislators to understand how their decisions affect Nevadans. As a result, NCC plans to include a session in the 2024 Nevada Cancer Control Summit to provide partners with greater detail on how they can get involved in policy work for the 2025 legislative session. NCC plans to provide additional details on SB330 for providers in the coming months. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for updates.