The Legislature recently voted to delay LB 472, the Medicaid Redesign Act, until the 2016 session. While the bill is still alive, this means another year without access to health insurance for up to 77,000 Nebraskans, another year of health consequences that inaction will demand of them, and another year our rural hospitals are in financial jeopardy.
What’s more discouraging is the absolute lack of a reasonable alternative plan to provide access to health insurance for these Nebraskans.
Governor Ricketts has suggested two alternatives to the health care access issue facing thousands of modest income, hardworking Nebraskans. First, we should rely on “community health clinics” (we assume he’s referring to Nebraska’s seven Federally Qualified Health Centers). Unfortunately, this is placing a small bandage on a major wound. These clinics exist in Omaha, Lincoln, Norfolk, Columbus, Grand Island, and Gering. A look at a map shows there are vast areas of Nebraska where these services are unavailable. A Valentine resident without insurance would live 200 to 300 miles away from these clinics, for example.
Second, the Governor says we should just create better jobs with health insurance. Unfortunately, no plan is offered on how to accomplish this. In recent years, in fact, Nebraska has one of the lowest rates of employer-sponsored health insurance in the nation. The health insurance access challenges facing thousands of Nebraskans still exists, no matter what a majority of the Legislature and Governor say. We challenge them to work with us on a reasonable, practical solution.
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