A legislative committee sends a bill to expand Medicaid to the full legislature for debate, setting up a showdown with the governor.
Health and Human Services Committee members vote 5-to-1 to expand Medicaid under provisions of the federal healthcare law, LB 577. Chairwoman Kathy Campbell of Lincoln says now the work begins to persuade fellow senators it’s a good idea.
“I’m confident that as senators hear more about this and particularly how this issue impacts every community, every county, every legislative district across the state of Nebraska,” Campbell tells reporters during a news conference at the Capitol.
The federal health care law allows states to expand Medicaid to include coverage of individuals and families making up to 138% of the federal poverty level; approximately $15,000 a year for an individual and $32,000 for a family of four.
The issue has become controversial due to its ties with the controversy surrounding the federal health care overhaul as well as questions about whether the federal government will keep its funding promise.
The law promises the federal government will pay the full cost of expansion for the first three years. Afterward, the federal government pays 90% of the cost. The federal government will split the administrative costs evenly with the states.
Gov. Dave Heineman opposes expansion. The governor has stated Nebraska cannot afford expansion and he has questioned whether the federal government will live up to its promise to maintain funding at 90%.
Campbell says she believes supporters have the 25 votes needed to approve the legislation. Whether they have the 30 needed to override a likely gubernatorial veto remains to be seen.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:40]