Rural voters help carry Medicaid expansion to the ballot

Nebraska is set to be the fourth state in the nation where Medicaid expansion will appear on the November ballot. This comes following months of signature collection and validation, and the dismissal of a lawsuit against the initiative. The state joins Idaho, Utah, and Montana (where expansion will sunset) in allowing voters to decide on the future of health care coverage access for thousands of their neighbors. If passed in all four states, an estimated half-million low income residents would gain coverage.

Initiative 427, as it will appear on the ballot in Nebraska, would extend health care coverage to nearly 90,000 hard-working residents, who earn less than $17,000 annually. This means that they earn too little to qualify for coverage from the insurance marketplace and too much to be eligible for Medicaid. In these same rural counties, access to health care coverage through an employer is at its least and expansion could have a profound impact in helping keep rural hospitals and clinics open.

Center for Rural Affairs staff, board members, and volunteers played a significant role in the collection of signatures necessary for the ballot initiative, assisting with the qualification of four counties. All told, nearly 105,000 valid signatures were collected and at least 5 percent of registered voters in 47 of Nebraska’s 93 counties signed the petition. A simple majority vote in November will enact Medicaid expansion into law in Nebraska, joining the 33 other states that have done so already.

Feature photo: Nebraska resident Nicole Crabtree signs a petition to get Medicaid expansion onto the ballot. Corbin Delgado, a Center for Rural Affairs policy assistant, helped collect the 105,000 signatures necessary for the ballot initiative. | Photo by Cody Smith