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Legislature debates topic of Medicaid expansion
It's a key provision of national health care reform, but here in Nebraska, a political hot potato. Nebraska state senators are tackling a bill this session that could provide health care to some $50,000 uninsured Nebraskans.
That bill would expand Medicaid as a result of the federal Affordable Care Act. And a recent survey shows more than half of Nebraskans agree with the expansion.
News 5's Josh Egbert joins us live in the studio, Josh you have results from that survey, what else does it say.
The survey was conducted by AARP of 600 residents 18-years and older on expanding the Medicaid program. 53-percent support it, 28-percent oppose it.
"We were interested in learning what Nebraskans thought of Medicaid expansion," said AARP Nebraska Advocacy Director Mark Intermill.
Of the 600 Nebraskans over the age of 18, 317 supported expanding the Medicaid program, 167 opposed expansion and 117 had no opinion.
"A broad majority of Nebraskans want our fellow citizens to have the opportunity to have affordable health care coverage," said Intermill.
But the survey is part of a bigger picture.
"I think that it's so important that the legislature have this policy debate regarding Medicaid expansion," Senator Kathy Campbell said.
The debate is over LB 577, a bill that would require Nebraska Medicaid to add the newly eligible adults, ages 19 to 65, which is a result of the passing of the federal Affordable Care Act.
"Our health care system changed and we now have the ACA as the law of the land," said Campbell.
Last summer, the U.S Supreme Court decided to give the states the option of expanding Medicaid.
Governor Dave Heineman is opposed to it saying it would cost the state too much money to pay for it.
"The fact of the matter is we already do, we pay for it through a wide variety of government programs, that are cobbled together to create a safety net that, as I said, catches people at the deep end of care rather at the preventative side of care," said Senator Jeremy Nordquist.
Legislators say it could provide primary health care to some 50,000 Nebraskans.
"It's in every community of our state. The uninsured rate in Nebraska's almost split 50-50 between urban and rural. So it hits every district," Nordquist said.
The Health and Human Services Committee advanced the bill last week, and will now go to the floor for a full debate.
As for the cost of the expansion the federal government will pay 100% of the cost through 2016, and then 90% from 2020 on, which will return $2.3 billion to Nebraska's economy.
The debate over lb 577 is expected to begin later this month or early April
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