A conservative think-tank released a less than optimistic assessment of Medicaid expansion, sparking a debate at the Capitol.
It began with a news conference scheduled by the Platte Institute in the Capitol Rotunda.Platte Institute Executive Director Jim Vokal outlined the findings of a study of Medicaid expansion. The study questions the optimistic projections provided by proponents of Medicaid expansion. It claims the economic realities of states that have expanded on their own undermine that optimistic assessment.
The study concludes the costs of expansion have been higher than projected, mainly because the population of the uninsured has been higher that projected. It also claims that the number of uninsured residents has not dropped as dramatically as expected.
Also, Vokal said he expects the federal government to renege on its promise of 90% funding.
“If that is indeed the case, this will fall on the backs of the taxpayers of Nebraska in the future,” Vokal said during the news conference.
The study suggests legislators study the issue more thoroughly before agreeing to expand Medicaid.
Two state senators, Jeremy Nordquist of Omaha and Bob Krist of Omaha, listened to the news conference in the Capitol Rotunda and spoke with reporters immediately afterward.
Both claimed that the legislature has conducted a thorough study of the issue, closely examining the fiscal ramifications of expanding Medicaid.
Nordquist disputed the contention that the federal government would not live up to its funding promise. He stated that Medicaid has never seen a reduction in federal support and if Nebraska fails to expand Medicaid, it will lose $2.3 billion in federal money.
Krist relies on the federal government promise of full funding the first three years.
“And we have three years to take advantage of 100 pennies on the dollar,” Krist told reporters. “If we get in at the beginning of this we can do more good things for the people of Nebraska. If we get in inning three, four or five in this baseball game, we lose money every day we don’t get in.”
The federal government has promised to foot the entire cost of expansion the first three years and 90% thereafter.
There are an estimated 60,000 uninsured residents in Nebraska.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]
AUDIO: Platte Institute news conference on Medicaid expansion. [6 min.]
AUDIO: Senators Jeremy Nordquist and Bob Krist respond to Platte Institute study. [5 min.]