Poll: Voters unfamiliar with public option, but oppose repeal sought by Lombardo

Tabitha Mueller
Tabitha Mueller
Health CareLegislature
Governor Joe Lombardo meets with State Senators Melanie Scheible, Marilyn Dondero Loop and Ira Hansen inside his office during the first day of the 82nd legislative session in Carson City on Feb. 6, 2023. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent).

New polling on Nevada’s politically tinged public health care option law indicates 70 percent of voters are unfamiliar with the law establishing a state-managed public health insurance option, but a majority want the policy preserved when given a description of it.

The poll was conducted by Global Strategy Group in partnership with New Day Nevada, a well-funded political action committee that supports Nevada Democrats. It comes in the wake of opposition to the law by Gov. Joe Lombardo, a Republican who called the 2021 public option law “bullshit” on the campaign trail and said it should be “substantially revised, or better yet repealed” in his January State of the State address.  

Nevada’s public health insurance option aims to leverage the state’s purchasing power with Medicaid managed care organizations — private insurance companies that contract with the state to provide coverage to the state’s low-income population — to get insurers to also offer public option plans. The plans will resemble existing qualified health plans on the state’s health insurance exchange, though they will be required to be offered at a 5 percent markdown with the goal of reducing the plans’ premium costs by 15 percent over four years. 

The plans won’t be offered for sale on the exchange until 2026. Nevada became the second state to adopt a form of a public health insurance option in 2021, when Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak signed SB420 into law after it passed on party-line votes out of the 2021 Legislature.

The poll surveyed 1,000 Nevada voters likely to participate in the 2024 general election via phone, text and an online panel over an eight-day period beginning Feb. 2. The survey had a 3.1 percent margin of error.

Despite political wrangling over the public option, results from the poll indicate fewer than a third of respondents said they were familiar with the law. 

Pollsters then gave voters the following description of the public option:

“The public health insurance option is a health insurance plan that Nevadans will be able to purchase starting in 2026 which will be designed by the state, required to provide more affordable quality coverage, and will compete with traditional insurance plans.”

Following the description, about 56 percent of voters said they want the policy preserved, roughly 41 percent said they would support a repeal and around 3 percent they did not know or refused to answer.

Voters belonging to swing groups broadly indicated they want to maintain the law after hearing the description given by pollsters. Those include nonpartisans (57 percent opposed to repeal to 39 percent in support), suburban voters (56 percent to 39 percent) and Hispanic voters (56 percent to 39 percent).

You can find the crosstabs for the poll here, and the memo here.

Editor’s Note: This story appears in Behind the Bar, The Nevada Independent’s newsletter dedicated to comprehensive coverage of the 2023 legislative session. Sign up for the newsletter here.


Featured Videos