Gov. Dave Heineman urges state senators to reject Medicaid expansion as a showdown on the issue returns to the Capitol.
Legislative debate on this year’s version of Medicaid expansion is scheduled to begin this afternoon. A filibuster mounted by 17 state senators killed the measure last session.
Sen. Kathy Campbell has returned with a reshaped version of Medicaid expansion: LB 887. Campbell calls it the Wellness In Nebraska Act, insisting that this year’s measure is much different, tailored to Nebraska.
Campbell says the former measure simply expanded Medicaid to draw down federal dollars from the Affordable Care Act, while this year’s measure emphasizes steps to help people keep fit.
Heineman dismisses claims that the measure is different.
The governor, who opposes Medicaid expansion, says he believes the votes remain in place to prevent Medicaid expansion from passing.
“Hopefully, we have the votes and, until then, we’re all guessing a little bit,” Heineman tells Kevin Thomas, host of Drive Time Lincoln on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “But I just don’t sense as I talk to senators, with the exception of one, that anybody’s really changed their vote.”
The federal government has promised to pay all the cost of Medicaid expansion for three years and 90% thereafter. The Heineman Administration estimates expansion would cost an additional $143 million to develop and administer.
Heineman says that if legislators listen to Nebraskans, they’ll vote against expansion.
“Slow down, be careful, be thoughtful,” Heineman says is his message to lawmakers. “And, I think if they do that, they’ll make sure on the vote that they don’t vote for this Medicaid expansion.”
Kevin Thomas, KLIN, contributed to this article.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]