Nevada and the ACA’s Medicaid expansion

Nevada's Medicaid enrollment has grown by 87% since 2013

Where in your state to call or visit for Medicaid.How to apply

Online through or through Nevada Health Link.  You can also enroll by phone at 800-318-2596.

Who is eligible in your state to get Medicaid?Who is eligible

The aged, blind, and disabled.  Also, coverage is available if your household income is up to 138% of poverty (about $16,105 for a single person).  For pregnant women, income can be up to 160%, and children are eligible for CHIP with household income up to 200% of poverty.

  • By
  • contributor
  • January 16, 2017

Nevada expanded Medicaid in 2014 under the guidelines laid out in the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  As a result, the state estimated that roughly 204,000 people became newly eligible for coverage, most of them childless adults who are working but whose employers do not offer health insurance coverage.

Governor working to maintain coverage granted by Medicaid expansion

Nevada Governor, Brian Sandoval, was the first Republican Governor to commit to expanding Medicaid, and has been steadfast in his support for Medicaid expansion. Under the Trump Administration, the ACA is facing legislation to repeal it, and Republican lawmakers are hoping to replace it with something else.

Sandoval is one of five Republican governors — in states that have expanded Medicaid — pushing to keep Medicaid expansion intact or replace it with something very similar. He sent a letter to House Republicans on January 5, noting that more than 400,000 Nevada residents have gained coverage as a result of the ACA, in large part because of Medicaid expansion.

Sandoval told lawmakers that while he agreed that states need “more choices, fewer federal mandates and the freedom and flexibility” to implement health care systems that work in each state, he implored House Republicans to “ensure that individuals, families, children, aged, blind, disabled and mentally ill are not suddenly left without the care they need to live healthy, productive lives.”

Nevada’s current total Medicaid spending is about $6.4 billion, but the state only pays $1.1 billion of that; the rest is picked up by the federal government (for the population that was already eligible for Medicaid pre-ACA, the state pays a higher percentage of the cost than they do for the newly eligible population; for people who are newly eligible for Medicaid under the ACA, the federal government paid 100 percent of the cost through 2016, and is now paying 95 percent of the cost).

If Medicaid expansion is repealed and replaced with something that cuts federal funding below what the state currently receives, there are concerns that people could lose coverage or benefits could be cut. House Republicans’ proposal to transition Medicaid to block grants or per-capita allotments would almost certainly result in reduced federal funding.

Sharp increase in Nevada Medicaid enrollment

From the fall of 2013 through October 2016, total net enrollment in Nevada’s Medicaid program increased by 87 percent. This is a much higher percentage increase than most states, and is second only to Kentucky, where Medicaid enrollment has increased by 102 percent. Although people gain and lose eligibility for Medicaid throughout the year based on changing circumstances, the total Nevada Medicaid enrollment by October 2016 included an additional 287,556 people compared with late 2013.

Because Medicaid enrollment has increased so significantly in Nevada, there have been some concerns that newly-insured patients are finding it difficult to get timely appointments with healthcare providers.

Nevada’s uninsured rate also fell by nearly 40 percent from 2013 to 2015, going from 20.7 percent to 12.3 percent. The expanded access to Medicaid played a significant role in decreasing the uninsured population.

In addition to the newly-eligible population, enrollment has been growing among people who were already eligible for Medicaid but had not enrolled prior to the start of the 2014 open enrollment (open enrollment only applies to private plans; Medicaid enrollment is year-round, but the publicity surrounding open enrollment over the last few years has encouraged many Medicaid-eligible residents to seek coverage).

In 2012, roughly 88 percent of eligible children nationwide were enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP. In Nevada, that number was only 70.6 percent – among the lowest in the nation.  But the expansion of Medicaid and the publicity surrounding the ACA has helped to bump up Nevada’s total Medicaid enrollment by more than three-quarters in under three years.

Am I eligible?

As of 2016, Medicaid in Nevada is available to the following legally-present residents:

  • Adults with household income up to 133 percent of poverty (138 percent with the 5 percent income disregard).
  • Pregnant women with household income up to 160 percent of poverty.
  • Children, depending on age, with household income up to 133 percent or 160 percent of poverty; all children are eligible for CHIP with income up to 200 percent of poverty.

How do I enroll?

  • You can enroll online through  Or you can enroll online through Access Nevada (run by the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services) If you have an existing Access Nevada account that you created before November 10, 2014, you’ll need to go back to the site and create a new account with a new username and password.
  • You can contact the Nevada Division of Welfare and Supportive Services at 1-800-992-0900 if you have questions (they make Medicaid eligibility determinations).

As of 2014, nearly 87 percent of Nevada Medicaid enrollees were covered under Medicaid managed care plans. In Clark and Washoe counties, the state operates a mandatory Medicaid managed care program called the Nevada Mandatory Health Maintenance Program, which has been in place since 1998. Health Plan of Nevada and AmeriGroup currently have the Medicaid MCO contracts for NMHMP, but the contracts expire in mid-2017, and the state began rebidding them in late 2016.

First Republican governor to accept Medicaid expansion

Nevada’s Governor Brian Sandoval announced in December 2012 that the state would expand Medicaid starting in 2014. Sandoval was the first Republican Governor to commit to expanding Medicaid. Originally, this was an integral part of the ACA, but the Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that expansion was optional, and 19 states had not moved forward with Medicaid expansion as of late 2016.

Sandoval cited the fact that the federal government would be paying the vast majority of the costs as a primary motivator for expanding coverage, and noted that although he’s generally opposed to the ACA, he believes Medicaid expansion is the correct path.