Rural Health News

Implement Medicaid expansion now for the benefit of Nebraskans

On Oct. 29, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will begin hosting public hearings across the state to receive comments on the implementation of Medicaid expansion and the proposed 1115 waiver.

The public is invited to testify and/or submit written comments. Hearings are scheduled for Oct. 29 in Scottsbluff, Oct. 30 in Kearney, Nov. 7 in Norfolk, and Nov. 12 in Omaha.

State line determines access to health care coverage

The 102nd meridian and 41st parallel separate Colorado and Nebraska. When crossing this artificial barrier, you will not see a big change in the landscape, people, or towns. However arbitrary these borders may be, your place on either side can greatly change your access to one important service: Medicaid.

No Medicaid, no normalcy for the Lockwoods

​Deb and Curtis Lockwood have lived and worked in the Fremont area for most of their lives. They raised children, welcomed grandchildren, and began to plan for a comfortable retirement. As far as anyone could see, they were living the American dream.

When Medicaid expanded in late 2018, the Lockwoods did not believe they would need it. After one unexpected injury and a bureaucratic nightmare, today, they find themselves waiting for coverage they desperately need.

Delaying expansion will cost Nebraska hundreds of millions

When Nebraska voters expanded Medicaid coverage last November, they recognized not only the health benefits of expanded insurance coverage, but also the economic impact of it. Expansion is estimated to stimulate nearly $1.3 billion in economic activity in the first three years of implementation. Yet, Nebraska remains nearly a year and a half away from realizing these benefits.

Expansion efforts hit snags in states where voters expand coverage

On April 1, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) submitted a State Plan Amendment to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for review. The plan is a key first step to expanding the state’s Medicaid program to provide health insurance to those in the coverage gap. Pending approval, the plan outlines an October 2020 timeline for enrollment. This leaves hardworking Nebraskans in the coverage gap for nearly two years after the passage of the ballot Initiative 427.

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