Supporters of expanding Medicaid hope this is the year the Unicameral passes a measure, but a key state senator says that is highly unlikely.
A new proposal revives enthusiasm at the state Capitol for expanding Medicaid. Sen. John McCollister of Omaha has filed LB 1032, the Transitional Health Insurance Program Act, which he says combines the use of private insurance with efforts to transition Nebraskans off public assistance. It is based roughly on the expansion plan approved in Arkansas.
During a rally at the state Capitol in favor of the bill, Nebraska Appleseed Executive Director Becky Gould declined to speculate on whether this new approach will attract enough votes to overcome the fate of previous efforts in the Unicameral.
“I think we feel really optimistic that we have a chance to get this done this year and I think it’s really early to be deciding where the votes are,” Gould responded.
Still, some are counting votes.
Sen. Bill Kintner of Papillion, a leading conservative in the Unicameral, says not enough changes can be made to sway the votes needed.
“We can always filibuster it,” Kintner tells Nebraska Radio Network. “This is priority number one in the legislature, making sure that this does not get passed, that we’re not obligated and tied to the federal government for the rest of our life on this program.”
Opponents of Medicaid expansion have successfully blocked measures from ever coming to a vote.
Kintner rejects the rosy economic scenario portrayed by supporters, casting doubt that expanding Medicaid would create 10,000 jobs directly and indirectly. Supporters of LB 1032 also say it would bring $2 billion in federal funds into state coffers over the next five years.
Kintner says opposition to expanding Medicaid is tied directly to opposition to the Affordable Care Act, which he contends is deeply unpopular in Nebraska.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:40]