Nebraska Appleseed Executive Director Becky Gould issued the following statement in response to the Governor’s State of the State Address today.
“This morning, Governor Heineman laid out his priorities for the next year in his State of the State Address. We agree that the State of Nebraska is strong and a great place to live. Because of this, we are in a position to ensure Nebraska’s state budget is a reflection of our state’s top priorities. We have the opportunity to focus on policies that benefit working families and overcome existing challenges that are holding us back, such as the lack of access to health care faced by more than 220,000 Nebraskans.
One of the best opportunities we have this year is to take up the new Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act. It is a good deal for our state. It is fully funded by the federal government for the first three years and would return at least $2.3 billion to the state economy. It will grow the economy and create jobs, generating $700 million in economic activity which would sustain 10,000 new jobs. It is the right thing to do. It will provide access to health care to at least 78,000 uninsured Nebraskans – those who are older and may have lost their coverage, parents working hard to support their children but not making enough for health care coverage, and Nebraskans with disabilities.
It is important to clarify that the increased spending in Medicaid discussed this morning is not mandated by the Affordable Care Act. The state should be seeking to enroll eligible Nebraskans. But that is an existing obligation. To the extent Nebraska has not been serving currently eligible families, we have been failing to meet our obligations under federal law.
If we are serious about building a stronger Nebraska, we must make both health care access and education top priorities. We must seize the opportunity before us to take up the new Medicaid program and realize the benefits to our families, communities, and workforce.”