Legislature's HHS Committee holds Medicaid Expansion hearing

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Updated: Thu, 30 Jan 2014 08:55:06 CST

The Health and Human Service Committee’s Medicaid Expansion hearing gave Nebraskans a chance to tell their stories.

“I am disabled so that my only income is social security,” said Denise Dickeson of Lincoln. 

“Both for myself and for the estimated 17 percent of Nebraskans who are living with HIV and are currently uninsured in many cases,” said Todd Ruhter of Grand Island.

The day also let them share their concerns.

“It would put too much pressure on the state budget because the money they would have to pay for expanded medicaid is already pegged for other purposes such as state aid to education and highway development especially out in Central and Western Nebraska,” said Doug Kagan with Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom.

In front of more than 100 proponents and opponents, those in the health care industry gave the Wellness In Nebraska act their vote of approval.

“We really believe that allowing better access to the Medicaid program in keeping with the boundaries of LB 887 is essential to the economic health of our state and to the physical and mental health of our citizens,” said Kim Russel, CEO of Bryant Health.

“The taxes I pay go somewhere else for their Medicaid programs and the taxes that we as Nebraskans pay are just getting sucked out like a vacuum,” said Dr. Kevin Nohner, with the Nebraska Medical Association. 

But some others speaking out weren’t as enthused.  Relying on the federal government for funding is just one their concerns.

“We can’t count on the money that they said they’re going to give us.  Well for one thing we know that we can’t count on anything they tell us, right.  Like keep your own insurance, keep your own doctor, we know where that went,” said Sheila Heieck, with Omaha Liberty Ladies.

But Senator Campbell and her supporters says this bill is different.  And with a Nebraska plan made specifically for our state, proponents say it answers last years’ concerns. 

“The WIN act contains a provision that requires legislative action should the federal government match drop below 90 percent,” said Sharon Lind, CEO of Ogallala Hospital.