Medicaid expansion study unveiled

By: Lauren Fabrizi

A new Platte Institute study outlines negative effects Medicaid expansion would have on Nebraska.

A newly proposed bill, LB 887, aims to expand Medicaid in the state, so the 55,000 people who can't afford health insurance get covered.

But certain lawmakers said the expansion is not good for Nebraska, according to findings in the Platte Institute study released Wednesday.

“The WIN plan is designed in a way that is likely to lead to uncontrollable and unpredictable costs,” Jim Vokal of the PLatte Institute said. “Not the kind of budget stability the proponents had hoped.”

If passed, the Wellness in Nebraska, or WIN Act, would expand Medicaid through federal government funding for three years. After that, the state of Nebraska would have to pay 10 percent, or about $60 to $70 million over the next decade.

State policymakers said there are smarter ways to take care of the coverage gap, such as getting funded from private state organizations.

They also said there's not enough doctors right now for those who are already covered, let alone people who would get covered under the WIN act.

“How do you get those people covered,” Sen. Ken Schilz of Ogallala said. “Do you, in effect, reduce the quality of health care for everybody that has to rely upon that system?”

Sen. Jeremy Nordquist of Omaha argues that's where the federal government funding comes into play.

“That $2.5 or $3 billion that we are going to bring in from Washington, D.C., is how we're going to hire the nurses and doctors and all the health professionals we need border to border in Nebraska,” Nordquist said.

Nordquist also said right now, families have to pay an extra $1,000 a year to pick up the cost of premiums, but said the WIN Act would change that.

“If we reduce the uninsured, we're going to reduce that amount and reduce people's premiums,” Nordquist said.

LB 887 should be brought to the health and human services committee in the next week. If voted on, it would then hit the legislative floor.