An updated economic analysis conducted for the campaign to expand Medicaid says expansion would greatly benefit Nebraska economically.
The Nebraska Hospital Association first commissioned the study by University of Nebraska-Kearney in 2015 for the Unicameral to consider. An updated version for voters to consider this fall states expansion would cost the state $148.3 million over three years, but would pull in $1.359 billion in federal funds.
It would benefit rural hospitals, especially.
“Medicaid expansion is definitely a difference maker for rural hospitals,” UNK economics professor Allan Jenkins tells reporters during a news conference at the NHA headquarters in Lincoln.
The NHA supports Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.
Expansion came before the Unicameral each session since Congress passed the ACA. It never received enough votes to overcome a filibuster, so supporters mounted an initiative petition campaign. The issue will appear on the ballot next month as Initiative 427.
Jenkins says 29 of Nebraska’s 64 critical access hospitals operate on margins of only 2%. He says rural hospitals struggle to cover the cost of uncompensated care.
“Only about 20% of low-income people have health care through their employment,” according to Jenkins. “That’s particularly a problem in rural areas.”
It is estimated that expanding Medicaid under the ACA would provide health insurance to approximately 90,000 Nebraskans. Jenkins doesn’t see that number changing as it has in other states, most notably Ohio, where enrollees far exceeded estimates when the state approved expansion. Jenkins says Nebraska’s smaller population makes it easier to accurately predict who would be eligible.
The UNK study projects Medicaid expansion would claim a net cost against the state General Fund of $25.7 million over a three-year period, first by claiming Medicaid expansion would reduce state spending by $57.5 million through covering healthcare services now paid by the state and by generating economic activity which would increase tax revenue by $112.4 million.
The study further claims that once expansion is fully implemented, it would lead to creation of nearly 11,000 jobs.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]