A state senator wants Nebraska to follow Maine’s example and take a proposal to expand Medicaid directly to the people.
Sen. Adam Morfeld of Lincoln says it is time for the voters to decide an issue which has stalled in the legislative process.
“For the last five to seven years, the governor, both Gov. Heineman and Gov. Ricketts, and the legislature have failed Nebraskans time and time again in ensuring that health care is affordable and that’s why this must go to the ballot,” Morfeld tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN.
Both Heineman and Ricketts vetoed expansion proposals which made it through the Unicameral. Of late, efforts to expand Medicaid have fizzled out in the legislature. Morfeld sponsored Legislative Bill 441 last session. It never made it out of the Health and Human Services Committee.
Legislation in the past has proposed to expand Medicaid to Nebraskans making up to 133% of the federal poverty level under provisions of the Affordable Care Act, approximately 90,000 people. The federal government would pay a large majority of the cost of expansion.
A cost analysis drafted by the Legislative Fiscal Office pegged the cost of LB 441 at more than $79 million over a four-year period. The proposal would bring in $1.72 billion in federal funds over that period, according to the office.
Morfeld says success in Maine encourages him of the possibility of success here.
“I think overwhelmingly, citizens are in favor of affordable health care and I think it’s primarily a political issue with the legislature and the governor and I believe that we’ll fare better at a ballot box vote,” according to Morfeld.
Nearly 60% of Maine voters approved Medicaid expansion. The governor there had vetoed expansion efforts five times. Maine becomes the 32nd state to expand Medicaid, the first through a vote of the people.
Jane Monnich, KLIN, contributed to this report.