Nebraska flirts with expanded health care

Friday, October 05, 2018

For seven years, lawmakers have failed to expand health care coverage for an estimated 90,000 Nebraskans who can’t afford to purchase insurance on their own. Govs. Pete Ricketts and Dave Heineman before him successfully thwarted the attempts in what has become one of the largest, most divisive partisan struggles in the officially nonpartisan Legislature. In case you forgot, there are way more Republicans than Democrats in the Legislature and in Nebraska, for that matter. And the oft-suggested vehicle for providing the insurance — Medicaid expansion — apparently sounded too much like Obamacare.

Supporters such as Sen. Adam Morfeld of Lincoln have argued that the infusion of federal funding would spur economic development and help secure the future of rural hospitals in Nebraska while treating health conditions before they spiral into serious health challenges that may result in far more expensive and uncompensated care. The vast majority of current Medicaid recipients are children and the elderly.

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