Center for Rural Affairs Board endorses Medicaid expansion ballot campaign

The Center for Rural Affairs Board of Directors voted to back the Nebraska Medicaid expansion ballot campaign at their recent quarterly meeting.

Insure The Good Life, a collection of local health care stakeholders, organizations, and individuals, is leading an effort to gather 85,000 signatures by July 6. This will add Medicaid expansion to the ballot for November’s election.

“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,” said Melissa Florell, Center for Rural Affairs Board of Directors president and a registered nurse. “Now, Nebraskans will have the opportunity to decide the future of this expanded coverage for their neighbors.”

Nebraska is seeking to join 32 other states and the District of Columbia in expanding Medicaid. Idaho and Utah also are currently in the midst of Medicaid expansion ballot initiatives, and voters in Maine passed a similar initiative last year.

“For rural Nebraska, this expanded coverage is critically important,” said Brian Depew, Center for Rural Affairs executive director. “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. Expanding coverage will help stabilize the entire rural health care delivery system.”

Depew said more than a quarter of the uninsured Nebraskans who would qualify for this expanded health care coverage reside 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.

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Feature photo: The Center for Rural Affairs Board of Directors met at the Red Cloud Opera House for its most recent quarterly meeting. | Photo by Rhea Landholm