A coalition of Nebraska physicians complains that state budget cuts have hurt access to health care.
Physicians representing the Nebraska Children’s Health Alliance held a news conference in the Capitol rotunda to denounce the 2 ½% cut to the Medicaid budget and argue that the cuts don’t make economic sense.
Dr. Scott Applegate, chairman of the Nebraska Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, says the legislature needs to restore the cut to Medicaid.
“In the year 2011, if you lived in Lincoln, Nebraska, our state’s capital (city), and you are a child new to the Medicaid program, you had access to no pediatricians,” Applegate stated. “There were no pediatricians in the city of Lincoln in 2011 who were able to accept new Medicaid patients.”
John Cavanaugh, executive director of Building Bright Futures of Omaha, stated the Medicaid cuts undermine the ability of poorer children to stay healthy, learn and become productive workers. Cavanaugh said the alliance hopes to persuade the legislature to restore funding and remove regulations that he said keeps some from seeking care.
Cavanaugh and Applegate were joined by Center Pointe Executive Director Topher Hansen and Dr. Robert Rauner, representing the Nebraska Medical Association, at the news conference.
All four emphasized the economics of the cut to the Medicaid budget. The news conference stressed that Nebraska receives $1.40 in federal matching funds for every $1 spent on Medicaid.
Cavanaugh stated that with the federal match and the long-term effects of a lack of health care, budget cuts to Medicaid cannot be justified economically.
“These are without question the most expensive cuts that we can make to our public budget. They cost us more than they gain,” Cavanaugh stated.
AUDIO: Nebraska Children’s Health Alliance news conference [11:40]