Sen. John McCollister of Omaha bases LB 1032, at least in part, on the so-called private option adopted by Arkansas. McCollister says his proposal would extend Medicaid to an additional 77,000 working poor Nebraskans who would be required to contribute two percent of their income as a premium. It also includes job training and work referrals in an effort to transition enrollees off the program into jobs that provide health coverage.
The federal government, under the Affordable Care Act, promises to pay 90% of the cost of expansion, which McCollister says would pump $2 billion in federal funds into the Nebraska economy.
Consultant Patty Boozang with Mannatt Health Solutions worked with Arkansas officials with expansion, which included asking the federal government for a waiver to create the program.
Sen. Merv Riepe of Ralston questioned Boozang during the Health and Human Services Committee public hearing about the expense of the Arkansas experiment.
“In terms of the private option, the stuff that I’ve read says that the cost to do private options is probably five times as expensive as if one was to expand Medicaid at the cost of Medicaid,” Riepe stated.
Boozang said the jury’s still out.
“I don’t think there is evidence that the private option is, at least in Arkansas, many multiples more than it would have cost to pursue some other model,” Boozang replied.
Boozang testified Arkansas providers, such as hospitals, have benefited from Medicaid expansion with the number on uninsured people accessing their services dropping dramatically.
A state senator from Arkansas, though, testified that Medicaid expansion has fallen short of what supporters promised; both costing more to implement and saving less than projected.
The Health and Human Services Committee will weigh the testimony and decide whether LB 1032 is forwarded to the full Unicameral for debate.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]