Platte Institute speaks out against Wellness in Nebraska

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Updated: Wed, 12 Feb 2014 06:05:43 CST

Medicaid expansion is one of the most polarizing issues to hit the State Legislature, with strong voices on both sides.  We’ve heard it form the Governor and countless State Senators-- now another group is speaking out against expansion.  

The non-partisan Platte Institute says the’ve taken a look at Medicaid Expansion through the Wellness in Nebraska Act.  And after studying similar policies in Arkansas and Iowa, they’re saying alternative plans like the WIN Act put taxpayers at significant risk. 

"This is not an issue of compassion versus dollars.  This is an issue about good, smart governance.  It’s an issue about good policy.  It’s an issue about actually looking at what the effects of similar policies in other states have been," said Dick Clark, Director of Research for the Platte Institute.

That’s why the Platte Institute’s recent study says Medicaid Expansion through the Wellness in Nebraska Act is a bad prescription for Nebraska. 

Breaking it down into the goals of the bill.  First, to promote access and coverage for Nebraska’s most vulnerable citizens. 

"Rather than protecting the most vulnerable, WIN is likely to likely to create a two tiered system of care prioritizing able bodied adults over the truly needed," said Jim Vokal, Platte Institute CEO.

But proponents of the bill say it was intentionally designed to target hardworking, low income adults.

"We can choose to keep them in our current two tiered system where they don’t have health care, they go to the Emergency room where the rest of us who have insurance pick up that cost.  Or we can get them coverage, get them connected to a primary care doctor and try and invest in preventative health care," said State Senator Jeremy Nordquist, District 7. 

Which brings the study to the second goal: promote incentives to encourage personal responsibility and cost-conscious use of health care

"The WIN plan as structured will reduce personal responsibility and cost sharing.  Incentivizing the enrollees to pick the most expensive options and engage in appropriate utilization of health care services," said Vokal.

Which, again, WIN cosponsor Sen. Jeremy Nordquist says isn’t true.

"We are going to make sure that everyone above 50 percent of poverty pays a premium.  Two percent of their income premium.  We’re also going to make sure that they don’t misuse the Emergency Room," said Sen. Nordquist.

The WIN bill has already had its hearing in the Health and Human Services Committee.  As soon as next week the committee will take a look at the bill in executive session and then vote on bringing it back to the Senate Floor.