Since Jan 1, 2014, Nebraska has been forfeiting $930,096 per day in federal funds that could provide health insurance for over 54,000 low-income, working Nebraska families and individuals. On March 6, the amount of forfeited federal funds will top $400 million.
It is fiscally and morally bankrupt to allow so many working families to struggle to find ways to afford the health care coverage they need. The Unicameral’s Health and Human Services Committee is prepared for their final consideration of LB 472, the Medicaid Redesign Act. Nebraska has already forfeited $400 million in federal Medicaid funds. These are tax dollars, paid in part by Nebraskans, that could have been used to provide affordable health care options for 54,000 working Nebraska families. But they were turned away.
This loss has been a real economic blow to Nebraska’s economy. But the most dire consequences of our state’s inaction are felt by low-income, working families across Nebraska, and in rural and small town Nebraska in particular. Impacting those who can least afford to have their economic and health care needs ignored.
Every man, woman, and child in a small town loses when the hospital shuts down. Every Nebraska taxpayer loses when our state turns away $400 million that could be used to care for people, and build up our healthcare system. It’s time to act for Nebraska’s future by passing LB 472.
National Rural Health Association research indicates that about 300 rural hospitals across the US are on the verge of closing due to financial issues, with a lack of access to the new Medicaid program as one major cause. In addition to compromising the health of rural people, a hospital closure causes job losses, lost economic activity, and lost community vibrancy in rural communities. A small town hospital closure costs about $1,000 in per capita income.
Hospitals and other providers are left with significant uncompensated care for the uninsured. The University of Nebraska Medical Center estimates through 2019 Nebraska will have more than $1 billion in uncompensated care without Medicaid redesign. And increased premiums for those with insurance are sure to follow that level of uncompensated care.
Nebraska cannot afford to let over 50,000 of our friends, family members, and neighbors fall into this health care coverage gap. A gap where they make too little - yes, too little - to participate in the new healthcare marketplace and receive tax credits to make premiums affordable. But they make too much to qualify for traditional Medicaid coverage.
You can monitor mounting medicaid losses here to keep an eye on how much Nebraska is losing every day, and how some other non-expansion states compare.
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