A proposal to expand Medicaid in Nebraska has come to a halt in the legislature after heated debate from both sides.
Senator Bill Kintner, of Papillion, criticized the expansion proposal by also attacking one organization coming out in support of the expansion.
“The Nebraska Restaurant Association wants expanded Medicaid,” Kintner says. “Well, how convenient! Rather than offer health care for workers, we’ll just throw them on the government dole.”
Senator Steve Lathrop, of Omaha, argued that it didn’t make sense to reject the federal funding that would enable health care coverage for more of the state’s low income.
“It is silly for us to pay for every other state’s expansion of this program and turn our back on the 55,000 Nebraskans who would be covered,” Lathrop says. “Working Nebraskans, they work in pizza joints in Omaha, they work in restaurants, they work in manufacturing concerns where they’re not insured.”
Expanding Medicaid would be 100-percent federally funded the first three years and ratchet down to ninety percent after that. Governor Heineman opposes the expansion as part of his opposition to federal health care reform.
Opponent Senator Ken Schilz, of Ogallala, told his colleagues the expansion discussion should not be about the money.
“But that’s what we’ve heard,” Schilz says. “Boy, we do this, there’s going to be money available. Well, sometimes money’s not worth it, folks. Money’s nice to have but it depends on the strings that come with it.”
Some senators have argued that if we don’t expand Medicaid Nebraska will not get federal money going to other states to expand Medicaid coverage. Senator Burke Harr, of Omaha, says some are arguing about access.
“If we give these people access, they will flood the system,” Harr says. “That kind of sounds like why Marie Antoinette said, ‘Let them eat cake.’ Isn’t that the reason why we should give them health insurance so they can have access.”
Expanded Medicaid coverage is one hundred percent covered by the federal government the first three years and then ratchets down to ninety percent after that.
By Jane Monnich, KLIN, Lincoln