For seven years, rural Nebraskans in the health insurance coverage gap have heard all the what if scenarios around Medicaid expansion. At the same time, they have dealt with the what ifs of purchasing their heart medication or putting food on the table. On Nov. 6, voters will have the chance to decide the best scenario for Nebraskans when they vote on Initiative 427.
Opponents discount expansion, dwelling on the hypothetical of the federal government not continuing to cover 90 percent of the costs. Yet, 33 states have seen past the what ifs and realized the health and financial benefits of accepting the federal dollars.
So, what if Nebraska does not expand Medicaid?
More than a third of the 90,000 Nebraskans in the coverage gap live in rural Nebraska. They are our neighbors who sack our groceries and care for our aging parents, while earning less than $17,000 annually. Despite employment, insurance is not always a benefit or affordable. It is inevitable that these hardworking Nebraskans will get sick and need medical care. Care they cannot afford.
Failing to expand Medicaid forces health care providers to offer uncompensated care, placing entire rural communities in peril. Without payment for care, providers have to write off costs, operate on narrow margins, or ultimately face closure. This leaves everyone shouldering the costs and threatens access to health care services.
Now is the time to set aside these what ifs of Medicaid expansion and prioritize the health of Nebraskans and our communities. Vote yes on Initiative 427.
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