A state senator has challenged Gov. Dave Heineman to give up his taxpayer-funded health insurance until Medicaid is expanded in Nebraska.
Sen. Jeremy Nordquist of Omaha is critical of the governor for opposing the expansion of Medicaid.
“Right now, because Nebraska has chosen not to implement that policy, people who make under $16,000 a year if they have one child or about $20,000 if they have two children; they are getting no assistance at all while people above that amount are getting financial assistance in the health insurance marketplace,” Nordquist tells Nebraska Radio Network.
Nordquist has long been a proponent of expanding Medicaid, arguing that it makes sense to take the federal government up on its offer to pay all of the cost of expansion for the first three years and 90% thereafter.
Supporters of Medicaid expansion have a majority of the Unicameral on their side, but have failed to gather enough votes to overcome a filibuster against it. Supporters would also need enough votes to override a threatened veto from the governor who argues the state cannot afford any more Medicaid costs and questions whether the federal government would uphold its funding promise.
Expansion would cover approximately 50,000 low-income Nebraskans.
Nordquist says the votes could change in the upcoming session.
“I am confident and Sen. (Kathy) Campbell who is also a strong supporter of this bill is confident that there are enough senators who are open-minded and willing to look at options for Medicaid expansion that the possibility is real,” Nordquist says. “Now, we just have to put the pieces together and put a proposal together that will garner enough support.”
Nordquist brushes aside suggestions his challenge is a gimmick that he’s making a challenge he knows won’t be accepted.
“I certainly will put that ball in his court,” Nordquist says. “I think if he really wanted to walk in the shoes of Nebraskans, he would give up his health insurance.”
Nordquist also has launched an online petition at http://www.healthcarefairness.com to gather signatures of support to expand Medicaid.