The number of Nebraskans who have healthcare coverage through the Affordable Care Act for the coming year totals 87,835.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports the state’s enrollment grew by about 14,000 from last year.
James Goddard, Nebraska Appleseed healthcare director, calls that good news, but says more needs to be done to cover low-income residents still without insurance.
State senators are considering a bill called the Transitional Health Insurance Program Act (LB1032) that would use Medicaid funds to buy private insurance for that group.
“Those individuals would either be able to go into the marketplace and get coverage or if they had access to employer-sponsored insurance but couldn’t cover it, then Medicaid dollars could be used for that,” Goddard says. “So it would provide coverage to that group of nearly 80,000 people that have really no other way to get it now.”
Goddard says if that group in the so-called coverage gap earned a little bit more than 100% of the poverty level, then they would be able to get subsidies on the healthcare marketplace.
“So, if it seems counterintuitive, it’s because it is,” Goddard says, “and it’s because it’s not the way the Affordable Care Act was originally designed.”
Opponents of the Medicaid expansion bill say the federal funding is unreliable and the plan would cost the state too much in the long-run.
A hearing on the bill is planned for Wednesday afternoon in the Unicameral’s Health and Human Service Committee.