July 25, 2014

Gov. Heineman hopes “Nebraska Option” protects state’s interest (AUDIO)

Gov. Dave Heineman says the “Nebraska Option” for the Essential Health Benefits plan under the federal healthcare law seeks to protect the state’s interest.

The Nebraska Option is a high-deductible, health savings option that stresses affordability. It would target younger Nebraskans and working families. Under the federal law, states must submit a base health insurance plan, in effect, setting the floor for what insurance plans must cover in Nebraska.

Heineman says if he hadn’t submitted the Nebraska Option, the federal government would have made the choice.

“Now, I also want to be very clear, they can trump us on any given day,” Heineman tells Nebraska Radio Network. “That’s the challenge with this new federal healthcare law. They are totally dictating and totally controlling from the federal level.”

Under the federal healthcare law, states had to submit an Essential Health Benefits plan to the federal government by October 1st. It is a plan that would set the bare minimum any health insurance plan sold in Nebraska must provide. United States Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will review the plan.

Heineman says attempts to protect Nebraska’s interest.

“I hope so. There’s no assurance of that, but I hope so and we wanted to present what was the Nebraska option. I’m sure another state would choose a different option and that’s their choice,” Heineman says.

Heineman says Nebraska is still waiting on healthcare regulations from the federal Health and Human Services Department.

The governor’s office says that, by federal law, Essential Health Benefits must include items and services within at least the following 10 categories: ambulatory patient services; emergency services; hospitalization; maternity and newborn care; mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment; prescription drugs; rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices; laboratory services; preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management; and pediatric services, including oral and vision care.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:40]