Nebraska voters will decide in November whether or not to expand Medicaid coverage.
The state already contributes about $3.5 billion and the federal government funds another $3.5 billion to pay for benefits for about 170,00 Nebraskans. That money is intended to pay for nursing home care for the elderly, health care for the disabled and for children of low income parents.
Former Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman says over the last 25 years, Medicaid funding has tripled and is the fastest growing portion of the state’s budget.
He says, “What I’m concerned about is what are the priorities and what should the priorities be for the state of Nebraska. Medicaid serves an important purpose but as we continue to expand it we can no longer afford everything that they are trying to do. It is a federal mandated program. Once it goes into effect we won’t be able to change it. They dictate the rules and regulations from the federal level.”
Heineman says if the ballot measure passes, changes will have to be made to the state budget. There will be less funding for public schools, the state universities and colleges and there will be no chance of property and income tax relief. Heineman says those two issues are what Nebraskans really want. Heineman says there is also a chance that those taxes could go up.
If the expansion passes, 90,000 more Nebraskans would be provided with Medicaid health care benefits.