Stronger Health Care Infrastructure & Healthier Nebraskans: Medicaid Expansion in Nebraska - Center for Rural Affairs report examines economic and income issues of expanding Medicaid

Release Date: 

06/17/2015

Contact(s): 

Jon Bailey, jonb@cfra.org, Phone: (402) 687-2103 ext. 1013
or John Crabtree, johnc@cfra.org, Phone: (402) 687-2103 ext. 1010

LYONS, NE - Today, the Center for Rural Affairs released a Rural Policy Brief examining the basic economic and income issues for all Nebraskans connected to expanding Medicaid. The brief is the second in a series examining findings of the University of Nebraska at Kearney report on the implications of LB 472 and their significance to rural and small town Nebraska.

Medicaid expansion in Nebraska will make health care providers, particularly those in rural Nebraska, fiscally stronger, thus ensuring access to health care for all Nebraskans, while also beginning to alleviate health care cost shifting that affects all Nebraskans and Nebraska families.
Jon Bailey, Center for Rural Affairs
 
To view or download a copy of the Center’s Policy Brief go to:
http://www.cfra.org/stronger-health-care-infrastructure-nebraska

 
On April 1, 2015, Dr. Allan Jenkins, Professor of Economics at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, and Dr. Ron Konecny, Professor of Management at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, released Nebraska Medicaid Expansion: Protecting a Critical Infrastructure, Supporting Main Street, Improving Worker Health and Productivity (the UNK Report). The UNK Report is an extensive benefit-cost analysis of several factors that should be considered in the debate on LB 472, the Medicaid Redesign Act, and Medicaid expansion in Nebraska.
 
“The UNK report also demonstrates that Medicaid expansion will create a healthier work force in Nebraska,” said Jon Bailey, Rural Policy Director at the Center for Rural Affairs and author of the policy brief. “Evidence from states that have expanded their Medicaid programs show that access to health care by expanding Medicaid leads to better health in numerous ways.”
 
“For low-income workers, lack of access to health care – one issue Medicaid expansion would resolve – leads to issues that affect their ability to work, decreases their productivity, negatively affects employers and their businesses, and contributes to the cycle of poverty for individuals and families,” explained Bailey. “Expanding Medicaid will make people healthier, make them more productive workers, and enhance their workforce longevity. Employers and businesses will also benefit from a healthier and more stable labor force.”
 
According to Bailey’s analysis of the UNK report, Medicaid expansion in Nebraska will also address health care cost-shifting and reduce the “hidden health tax” to individuals. This cost shift results from increased health insurance premiums and higher taxes needed to address the bad debts and charity care of health care providers associated with treated uninsured individuals. Medicaid expansion in Nebraska would directly reduce this cost shifting by $30.6 million in 2015-16 and by a total of $156.1 million by 2019-20.

“Medicaid expansion in Nebraska is a policy and economic winner for the state and those who benefit from the additional health insurance coverage it provides,” concluded Bailey. “Nebraska policymakers need to act on expanding the state’s Medicaid program or face losing all the positive health care, economic and workforce benefits while continuing to foist millions of dollars of uncompensated care onto the premiums of the currently insured.”