Good morning and welcome to the Indy DC download newsletter, a weekly look at what’s happening in the nation’s capital regarding Nevada.
If a colleague or associate emailed you this newsletter, please Click here sign up and get your copy of Indy DC Download in your inbox
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 funding to strengthen the use of mobile clinics in underserved communities.
Known as the MOBILE Health Care Act, the bill would “provide these communities with greater resources to expand mobile health clinics,” Rosen said in a release.
The measure’s passage in the Senate came after Rosen was working from Nevada rather than Washington due to testing positive for COVID-19. She said she only felt mild symptoms, which she attributed to the vaccination and full growth, according to one Tweet on Tuesday.
The legislation, which passed the Senate Tuesday night by unanimous consent, would expand the criteria for receiving “New Health Center Access Points” grants, which go to organizations that can provide primary health care services to populations underserved and vulnerable.
Nevada Health Centers and other Nevada clinics have spoken out in favor of the bill. Nevada Health Centers is the largest community health center program in the state, with 17 health centers, seven women, infants and children offices and three mobile health programs.
The bill would allow the use of grant funds to purchase, lease, expand, or renovate mobile medical equipment or vehicles to create a new delivery site for providing health services to medically underserved populations. Grants can also be used to lease, expand or renovate an existing community health center building or build a new one.
The House must still take up 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 easy week with a small number of hearings. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) participated in a hearing Thursday on the trend of private equity firms buying insurance companies. Private equity firms raise funds, usually from wealthy investors, and invest those funds in companies and startups that seek a significant return on their investment.
Cortez Masto raised concerns about the trend and wondered whether private equity-owned insurance companies might be too profit-motivated 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 by the shutdowns imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“If insurance companies are not covering the risk when there is a pandemic, even though the companies are paying for it [and] if there are some risks associated with private equity and there is, God forbid, some economic disaster, how can we guarantee that that coverage will be there from 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 they will not allow private equity-owned insurers to do 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 risk-based capital standards that are in force.” said Birrane. “None of them are different because the owner is a private equity company. So we continue to monitor and adjust the company’s performance regardless of ownership.”
As for businesses that thought they were covered for pandemic closures, Birrane said many policy contracts tend not to cover such circumstances.
“These contract terms, in fact, largely excluded business interruptions that are caused by things like contamination, that would fall within a pandemic or that do not result from a covered physical hazard,” Birrane said. “So from a contract perspective, those gaps in coverage were built into the policies, and unfortunately, a lot of business owners weren’t really aware that those limitations existed.”
On the path
While the Senate had returned to Washington, many members of the House of Representatives were campaigning back in their districts.
This includes Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV), who was joined by Rep. David Price (D-NC), a veteran of the House Appropriations Committee. They visited the Bonneville Transit Center in Las Vegas and Dina Titus Estates, an affordable housing complex for people with disabilities named in Titus’ honor in 2006. Titus served in the Legislature for 20 years before being elected to Congress in 2008.
The two also met with the Southern Nevada Regional Transportation Commission (RTC). Price, who chairs 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 RTC purchase more hydrogen cell electric buses, solar lighting for bus stops and pedestrian detection and collision avoidance software for RTC buses.
Meanwhile, Lee and Gov. Steve Sisolak held a panel discussion with legal experts on the recent Supreme Court Dobbs v. Jackson decision to overturn the constitutional right to abortion.
Both have made the issue a central theme in their re-election campaigns.
Dr. David Orentlicher, a UNLV Boyd School of Law professor who attended the event, urged voters to cast their ballots.
“We’ve become complacent, perhaps, and we’ve relied on the Supreme Court to protect us,” Orentlicher said. “It turns out they don’t. So yes, we need to make sure we use our votes to guarantee our rights.”
Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV) held a call Wednesday with veterans to highlight benefits under the recently passed PACT Act, which expanded veterans’ health care to cover burn pit-related illnesses.
For a full rundown of the measures delegates supported or opposed this week, see Nevada Independentcongressional vote tracker and other information below.
HAPPY. CATHRIN CORTEZ MASTO
S.4811 – A bill to establish a comprehensive, long-term strategy and policy of the United States for the Pacific Islands, and for other purposes.
S.4805 – A bill to provide emergency purchase authority in the event of an armed attack against an ally or partner of the United States by a foreign adversary of the United States.