Taking Medicaid expansion to the vote of all Nebraskans

During the last six years, nearly 90,000 Nebraskans have fallen into the health insurance coverage gap, as the legislature stood by and failed to extend Medicaid coverage to these seniors, parents, and hard-working residents.

Now, Nebraskans will have the opportunity to decide the future of this expanded coverage for their neighbors, as a statewide petition drive is underway.

For rural Nebraska, this expanded coverage is critically important. More than a quarter of the uninsured Nebraskans who would qualify for this expanded health care coverage resides in the state’s rural counties. These are residents who earn too little to qualify for subsidies to purchase insurance from the health insurance marketplace while also earning too much to qualify for Medicaid.

Residents of the state’s rural communities are already at a disadvantage in their ability to access health care coverage. The limited availability of health care providers and facilities, greater travel distances, and limited financial resources make access to care challenging.  

Rural Nebraska’s economy is built upon small businesses and their employees. Of businesses with 50 or fewer employees, only 18.8 percent offer insurance coverage. This leaves the majority of workers to pay premiums and other out­-of-­pocket costs, or forego coverage altogether.

Failing to expand access to health insurance forces health care providers to offer uncompensated care. Providers and insurers ultimately shift this cost to all patients and policyholders.

Beyond the costs that are passed along are the dollars left on the table, federal tax dollars already paid by Nebraskans. By 2022, it is estimated that the state will have lost nearly $3.1 billion in federal Medicaid funding during the first decade of the program.

The Insure the Good Life initiative seeks to place this issue on the November ballot. As provided under the Affordable Care Act, this law would expand Medicaid coverage to thousands of qualified rural Nebraskans in the coverage gap, including seniors, single adults, parents, and those who are disabled.

Now is the time for all Nebraskans to have a voice in deciding the future of expanded Medicaid access for their 90,000 neighbors currently without access to health care coverage. To learn more about the Insure the Good Life ballot initiative, visit www.insurethegoodlife.com.