Supporters of Medicaid expansion rally at State Capitol - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE;

Supporters of Medicaid expansion rally at State Capitol

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By: Bill Schammert

It's an issue that's divided the non-partisan legislature all year.  Now, Lincoln Sen. Kathy Campbell has less than three weeks to get 33 votes to break the filibuster on the Medicaid extension bill, LB-577.

Wednesday, hundreds of supporters like Pat Henry attended a rally on the west steps of the State Capitol.  Henry says her 26-year-old grandson had more than $20,000 in medical bills while he was uninsured.

"He's not the exception," she said.  "I see the need in the rural class area and with the poor people.  They need this help and can't afford anything."

Studies show the bill would give access to about 54,000 uninsured Nebraskans.

The controversy starts with The Affordable Care Act.  Originally, statewide Medicaid Expansion was required under the new Health Care law, but the U.S. Supreme Court overturned that requirement.

Now, Sen. Campbell has just 12-days left in this year's session to convince senators to at least vote on the issue.

"33 votes are even more than you need for a governor's veto, so it's a very strict rule," Sen. Campbell said.

The federal government has said it will cover 100-percent of the costs for new Medicaid participants from 2014 through 2016, but the opposition argues, the model is unsustainable.

"We don't have enough doctors, we don't have enough money and we are bring people into a Medicaid system that hasn't worked very well in the country," Sen. Bill Kintner of Pavilion told us back in April.

But Sen. Campbell is keeping up hope.

"The message is, do not lose your resolve, keep working.  Every E-mail, every phone call to a senator makes a difference," she said.

If Sen. Campbell can break the filibuster, she told us she believes she has the 25-vote majority to pass the bill.  But, to pass a probably veto by the governor, she would need more than 30.


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