A public opinion poll taken on behalf of Nebraska AARP indicates support for expanding Medicaid.
Mark Intermill with Nebraska AARP released the poll results during a news conference at the Capitol.
“We were interested in learning what Nebraskans thought of Medicaid expansion and what we learned is that there is a broad support for exercising our state’s option to participate in the expanded Medicaid program,” according to Intermill.
RDD Field Services of Portland, OR interviewed 600 Nebraska adults by telephone in early March. Of those surveyed, 53% either strongly or somewhat supported Medicaid expansion under provisions of the new federal health care law. Support increased to 62% if Medicaid expansion would lead to the elimination of other state health programs that no longer would be needed.
The federal government has promised to cover the entire cost of expansion in Nebraska during the first three years and 90% thereafter. Administrative costs would be split evenly between the state and the federal government.
Expansion would extend Medicaid coverage to those making up to 138% of the federal poverty level; up to $15,000/annually for individuals and $32,000 for a family of four.
The Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee has advanced LB 577, a Medicaid expansion bill, setting up a potential showdown between the legislature and the governor. Gov. Dave Heineman has steadfastly insisted that the state cannot afford to expand Medicaid and cannot trust the federal government to honor its commitment to keep funding at 90%.
Expansion is expected to bring between 50,000 to 80,000 residents into the Medicaid system.
Nebraska AARP supports expansion. Intermill says even Nebraska businesses would benefit from expanding Medicaid to those making up to 138% of poverty.
“I think that works out to about a minimum wage job; 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year,” Intermill says. “So, they would have assurance that those workers would have health care coverage, that they would be able to have their health care needs taken care of and become more productive workers.”
Intermill said the increase in support if Medicaid expansion leads to the elimination of programs no longer needed is interesting.
“That’s one of things that we’ve learned from this survey is that support does go up if there can be shown to be an opportunity to offset those costs with savings,” Intermill stated. “We know where those savings can be found. We just need to make sure that everybody understands what those are and that we can reach agreement that those are appropriate changes to make.”
Supporters of expansion say the Comprehensive Health Insurance Pool could be eliminated if Medicaid expands, saving the state $23 million annually.
AUDIO: Nebraska AARP statement on Medicaid expansion. [3:30]