On July 3, the Washington Post published a story on the states that would benefit most from expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
Nebraska checks in fairly high on that list at No. 6. The story cites statistics from the nonprofit, nonpartisan Kaiser Foundation that says 54% of Nebraska’s uninsured population with incomes below 138% of the federal poverty level could gain access to health insurance through an expanded Medicaid program.
That means more than 46,000 Nebraskans who currently don’t have insurance could access coverage through Medicaid.
Today, Medicaid is available only for certain specific categories of low-income people. In Nebraska, to be eligible for Medicaid you have to be a child, a pregnant woman, aged, blind or disabled, or, in some case, a very poor parent of a Medicaid-eligible child. In Nebraska, working parents of children cannot make more than 57% of the federal poverty level to qualify for Medicaid coverage. That means for both working parents in a family of four to qualify for Medicaid, they can’t make more than around $13,000 a year combined – or $3.12 an hour each. And low-income Nebraskans without children can’t access Medicaid at all.
But, under the Affordable Care Act, Nebraska could offer Medicaid coverage to any Nebraskan making up to 138% of the federal poverty level. This means a parent working two jobs who can’t afford private coverage but makes too much for Medicaid today might finally have health care coverage. It means your middle-aged neighbor who doesn’t yet qualify for Medicare but lost their job and health insurance could now have an option for coverage.
The recent Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act made it optional for states to expand the Medicaid program. This option is one we can’t afford to pass up. As the Washington Post study shows, taking up this opportunity under the ACA would be a tremendous help to Nebraskans.
For comparison, here are the Top 10 states that would see the biggest percentage of their uninsured population with incomes below 138% become newly eligible to get health insurance through expanded Medicaid.
- Kentucky – 57.1%
- Oregon – 56.7%
- West Virginia – 56.7%
- South Carolina – 56.4%
- Mississippi – 54.9%
- Nebraska – 53.9%
- Idaho – 53.9%
- Alabama – 53.2%
- Oklahoma – 53.1%
- Wyoming – 53.0%
The Medicaid expansion under the ACA is funded 100% by the federal government for the first three years, 95% in the third year, 94% in the fourth year, 93% in the fifth year and then 90% after that. That’s money we would be leaving on the table to provide health care for nearly 50,000 Nebraskans if we don’t expand Medicaid.
We can make sure our tax dollars come back to our state to allow all Nebraskans to be healthy and productive. That makes expanding Medicaid a no-brainer of a solution to let more Nebraskans live healthier, more productive lives.
We urge you to contact your elected state officials and tell them expanding Medicaid is a cost-effective, responsible way to bring health care coverage to many hard-working Nebraskans who could not otherwise afford to see a doctor. It’s one of the best investments we can make in Nebraska’s future.
Governor Dave Heineman
Phone: (402) 471-2244
E-mail Governor Heineman