RENO, Nevada (KOLO) – Viewers remember seeing Heather Korbulic on our news broadcasts. He has often been asked to talk about the Nevada Health Insurance Stock Exchange in layman’s terms and make Nevadans uninsured – insured.
She has been the Executive Director of the exchange since 2016. She replaced Bruce Gilbert who stepped down just when an important decision needed to be made.
“We saw the invoices that were sent to us in terms of how much it was going to cost us through Healthcare.gov,” says Korbulic. “It was basically all of our income,” she says.
As she would find, that move and its success —- Nevada would be the first to leave “healthcare.gov” with other states to follow – other challenges wouldn’t be far behind. The Trump administration was not a fan of the Affordable Care Act. The regulations of the time undermined the insurance markets. So much so that it destabilized the system here in Nevada, rural counties found themselves without affordable coverage.
“Fortunately Governor Sandoval got involved and we found a way out,” Korbulic says. “And I’m happy to say five years later that we have seven insurance companies on the exchange,” she said.
The pandemic would arrive about three years later. At that point, Governor Steve Sisolak would ask him to temporarily head the Nevada Unemployment Division.
“We went from 5% unemployment overnight to 30%.” Korbulic says of that time.
She and the rest of us would learn the word “doxxing”. It means taking personal information and placing it on social media as a way to threaten or intimidate. In her case, some Nevadans, distraught by an overburdened unemployment system and no impending unemployment check, threatened her and that of her family. She resigned from her post and returned to the exchange. But in the 2021 legislature, she will testify in favor of a bill that applied civil penalties to those convicted of doxxing.
“I was probably the emotional witness,” she says of her testimony.
She says that in exchange, with tens of thousands of Nevadans out of work, President Biden signed the “American Rescue Plan Act” which sent federal grants to those seeking health insurance coverage. Korbulic says it was one of the biggest things that happened to the exchange as well as to the Nevadans.
“Created a special registration period,” says Korblic, where many Nevadans have purchased insurance through the exchange.
As she leaves, she says that if passed, the “Build Back Better” plan will help keep these subsidies going.
She says that once the “public health emergency” is lifted, hundreds of thousands of Nevadans could be excluded from Medicaid as qualifications will be reviewed. Korbulic says the exchange must be ready to support these people so their health care coverage can continue.
She leaves on Friday and says she’s going to take a good two months off.
She then plans to work in the private sector.
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