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Randi Thompson: Nevada’s businesses, employees deserve better health care solutions

Nevada’s small and independent business owners strive to provide employees with comprehensive, quality health care coverage. Doing so is not only beneficial for employee-employer relations, but it is a key way to attract and retain employees in a tight labor market.

That is why all the talk lately of massively overhauling our entire health care system—mostly by presidential candidates—has a lot of Nevada business owners and workers concerned.

Moving away from a free-market-based health care system and toward one that is more controlled by the government could undermine the progress our country has made toward building a robust health care insurance system in which private and employer-sponsored plans have been able to grow and evolve to meet the many, varying needs of America’s small businesses and employees.

Whether it is called single-payer, a public option, or Medicare for All, these systems would all result in either undermining private and employer-sponsored health care plans to compete—or wiping out their ability to do so in one fell swoop. Eventually, under a government-controlled health care insurance system, private and employer-based coverage options would diminish until only the government’s plan is left standing—with no assurances as to what would be covered and what out-of-pocket expenses it would mean for consumers.

Moreover, any of these proposals would mean higher taxes for hardworking American families. It is naive and foolish to think otherwise. There is simply no way to fund a massive, government-run program—with a price tag in the tens of trillions of dollars —without massive tax hikes.

In return, Nevadans would not be assured a higher quality of care; if anything, the opposite is true. Government-run health care would also mean uneven quality of care and longer waiting times. It’s a true lose-lose-lose situation. In Nevada with many rural communities, the impact of a government-run health care system could have detrimental impacts on access for patients.

According to one study by Navigant Consulting, a public option to compete with private and employer-sponsored health care could put as much as 55 percent of our nation’s rural hospitals at a high risk of closure. Considering the public option is one of the more “moderate” proposals, who knows how bad things could be under Medicare for All or a single-payer system.

Rural Nevadans face enough challenges when it comes to accessing the care they need at prices they can afford without further undermining the health care facilities that are working to meet their health care needs.

No one thinks our current health care system is perfect; there is certainly a lot of work policymakers could do to improve it. And that’s exactly what they should be doing —improve what’s currently working under the ACA and fix what problems still exist. Taking this approach is a far better way to address rising health care costs while expanding access for more Nevadans.

A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll showed that 59 percent of Americans oppose a single-payer Medicare for All system that would eliminate the private health insurance industry.

The sooner candidates running for president realize this, the better off we’ll all be.

Randi Thompson is Nevada state director, National Federation of Independent Business

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