You can make “The Good Life” a reality for all Nebraskans

Corbin Delgado, policy assistant at the Center for Rural Affairs, has been tasked with knocking on the doors of hundreds of Burt County, Nebraska residents, so they can demonstrate their commitment to the state’s future.

As he knocks on doors in Burt County, Loretta, a Lyons resident, answers the door with a warm smile. Delgado grins and says, “Howdy! My name’s Corbin Delgado and I’m with the Center For Rural Affairs. I’m out here trying to get Medicaid expansion on the ballot this November, do you have a second to talk?” Loretta welcomes him into her home as Delgado explains the purpose of his visit. After agreeing to sign, Delgado reads her the required legal statement at the top of the petition page that clarifies how her signature will make a difference.

As the Insure the Good Life Campaign approaches its July 5 deadline, organizers are hard at work to gather more than 85,000 signatures statewide, or 5 percent of registered voters in 38 of the state’s 93 counties. Rural counties, like Burt County, are crucial to meeting this threshold. As a result, Delgado continues to hit the streets and knock on doors in rural areas on behalf of the thousands of Nebraskans that our current health care system has left behind. 

“I’m out here because I believe no person should be working their hardest to support themselves and their family and still come up short when it comes to getting health insurance,” Delgado said. “Every person deserves a fair shake and a hand up when they are in need.  When people sign, they are helping 90,000 of our neighbors achieve the good life.”

One of the greatest strengths that Nebraskans have is the ability to connect with their neighbors. By endorsing the Insure the Good Life campaign with your signature, you will show all residents of the Cornhusker state that you value their quality of life. Nebraska’s slogan is “The Good Life,” and, with your help, this slogan can become a reality for your neighbors who don’t have access to health care coverage.

Insure the Good Life is a coalition-based campaign to put access to affordable health care on the November ballot for all Nebraskans to decide. With the support of 24 organizations in the Cornhusker state specializing in a range of topics from rural issues to public health, this campaign is aimed at improving the quality of life in all of the state’s communities through the expansion of Medicaid.

“The Insure the Good Life campaign seeks to take action where the legislature has not for the last six years,” said Jordan Rasmussen, policy program associate at the Center for Rural Affairs, a coalition member. “By placing Medicaid expansion on the ballot this fall, Nebraskans will have a say in making our state healthier.”

“Too many of Nebraska’s working parents, their children, and their neighbors have been left in a coverage gap, earning too little to qualify for subsidies to purchase health coverage from the Health Insurance Marketplace and earning too much to qualify for traditional Medicaid,” Rasmussen continued. “This means that these hard-working individuals simply go without insurance coverage, placing their health and the well-being of their families in peril.”

A common misconception is that Medicaid is a costly, government handout for people who don’t work hard enough to deserve it. This narrative could not be further from the truth and it is harmful to the health of our neighbors who lack access to health care. These Nebraskans may make too much to qualify for current programs, but they make much too little to afford the sky-high premiums that are common in today’s market.

“Originally, many of the nation’s rural states held out on the expansion of health care coverage for low-income individuals, or those who earn less than $17,000 a year,” Rasmussen said. “However, there has been a shift and recognition in the value of expansion, and now that number is down to 17 states.”

Nationwide, 23 states including Indiana, California, and Ohio have expanded Medicaid. This fall, voters will decide the future of Medicaid expansion through ballot initiatives in Utah and Idaho. With your signature, Nebraska has the opportunity to do the same and improve the quality of life for all residents.

Expanding Medicaid in Nebraska would bring more than $1 billion in federal money back to the state, sustain more than 10,000 jobs, and provide a lifeline for rural hospitals at risk of closing. A study in Health Affairs Journal found that Medicaid expansion was, “...associated with improved hospital financial performance and substantially lower likelihoods of closure, especially in rural markets and counties with large numbers of uninsured adults….”

Hospitals provide critical services in rural areas and their closure could devastate the communities they serve. According to the National Rural Health Association, hospitals are one of the largest employers in rural areas and can represent up to 20 percent of the community’s employment and income. The same organization reports that 674 rural hospitals were at risk of closure in 2017. With skyrocketing health insurance premiums, many hard-working Nebraskans are unable to pay their bills even after they manage to gain access to health services.

Back in rural Burt County, Delgado moves from Loretta’s door to the next, and says, “We need to keep hitting the pavement. The public ballot is our way of cutting through the politics and making our voices as Nebraskans heard.”

The issue will have lasting implications on rural regions of the Cornhusker State. However, as proponents push forward one door at a time, one signature at a time, they are working to make “The Good Life” a reality for 90,000 more of their neighbors.

Find out where you can be part of the effort at InsureTheGoodLife.com/events.

Feature photo (top): Center Policy Assistant Corbin Delgado knocks on doors in Lyons, Nebraska, gathering signatures to put Medicaid expansion to a statewide vote in the November election.

Inset photo (top): Nicole Crabtree, a Lyons, Nebraska, resident, signs the petition.

Inset photo (bottom): Delgado pauses to double check the petition before knocking on the next door while canvassing in Lyons, Nebraska.