Gov. Pete Ricketts remains opposed to expanding Medicaid but says he will play no role in any campaign against the proposed ballot measure.
Organizers of the petition campaign have delivered more than 135,000 to the Secretary of State’s office, more than enough to make the November ballot.
Ricketts tells reporters he is still opposed to expansion, but won’t participate in the expected campaign.
“Well, I’ve long expressed my concern about distracting and diluting a program like Medicaid that is focused on (the) elderly, the disabled, children by putting able-bodied adults on there,” Ricketts says. “But, if it gets enough signatures it would be up to the people of Nebraska and, to your second part of the question, I tend to focus on my campaign.”
The Secretary of State’s office reports Insure the Good Life delivered more than 135,000 signatures to the office to place Medicaid expansion on the November ballot. Organizers must have valid signatures from at least 7% of Nebraska’s 1.2 million registered voters, slightly more than 84,000. Additionally, signatures must include at least 5% of the registered voters from 38 or the state’s 93 counties.
The Secretary of State’s office expects to process the signatures over the next two weeks and deliver them to local election officials for verification.
A selling point organizers have emphasized is the federal money the state will receive by expanding Medicaid. Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government will pay 90% of the cost of expansion, leaving the state to pay only 10%. It is estimated Nebraska would have to pay approximately $100 million a year to expand Medicaid.
Ricketts doubts Medicaid expansion would stimulate the state economy.
“I have seen that there are people who theorize that if you spend a lot of federal dollars, which are our taxpayer dollars too, that you generate economic activity,” Ricketts says. “If that were true, then we just tax all ourselves at 100% and spend all the money and we’d see economic growth. Obviously, we don’t do that, because it doesn’t work.”
Ricketts insists there are better ways to cover the estimated 90,000 Nebraskans who don’t qualify for Medicaid, but cannot afford private insurance. He says Congress needs to act.
“We know Obamacare’s an utter failure. We’ve seen everything that was promised has not been delivered. We’ve seen premiums increase, deductibles increase and that’s why we’ve got to have some reform at the federal level with regard to health care,” according to Ricketts.