Special interest groups have spoken. The public has had its chance for a say. Even members of the insurance industry have contributed to the discussion. Now, state officials must consider what type of Health Insurance Exchange to build in Nebraska.
A series of informal public hearings began August 27th in Gering, moved to Kearney and Nebraska City before pausing for a moment for two in-depth public hearings presided over by Gov. Dave Heineman at the Holiday Inn Downtown in Lincoln. The hearings wrapped up this week in Omaha and South Sioux City.
Banking Commerce and Insurance Committee Chairman, Senator Rich Pahls of Omaha, calls it a complex issue, perhaps made more complex by the range of input given during public hearings.
“It seems like after so much talking, they vacillate between well, we’ll take federal, we’ll take state or a combination as I heard from one person,” Pahls tells Nebraska Radio Network. “So, I think it’s still unclear.”
Still, Gov. Heineman says the input will help.
“It’s very helpful to hear the wide variety of opinions as I try to analyze, to make sense of all of this and then, ultimately, we have to make a judgment of what makes sense for Nebraska,” Heineman says.
The federal healthcare law offers three choices for an exchange: state-run, federally run or a partnership between the state and federal governments. Operating an exchange could cost Nebraska as much as $40 million a year. Heineman has complained that the federal government is unlikely to give the states much control of their own exchanges, making it difficult to justify footing the expense without receiving flexibility to operate it as the states wish.
The Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee meets at the Capitol Friday morning at 9 o’clock to hear a briefing by the Nebraska Department of Insurance on the issue.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:40]