Last week, a group of state senators left 54,000 uninsured Nebraskans without a path to health care coverage when they filibustered LB 887 – the Wellness In Nebraska Act that would have helped Nebraskan with low incomes get affordable health insurance.
But Wednesday, state senators who have shown leadership on health care access joined advocates at the State Capitol for a press conference where they pledged to continue fighting for uninsured Nebraskans. Representatives of Nebraska Appleseed, AARP Nebraska, the Nebraska Hospital Association, and The Arc of Nebraska joined state senators in renewing their support for health coverage for all Nebraskans.
“We are here this morning standing together as groups who support the Wellness In Nebraska Act and who stand with the 54,000 Nebraskans – our family members, friends, and neighbors – who without this legislation are left without access to health insurance,” Appleseed Executive Director Becky Gould said. “We are here to say the vote last week was not the end of the conversation, and all of us will continue to work for coverage for all Nebraskans until it becomes a reality.”
State senator Kathy Campbell, who introduced bills in the last two sessions aimed at providing health care access for people with low incomes, said the Legislature must keep working to find a solution for working Nebraskans who can’t afford insurance.
“We will continue without a doubt to work on this issue and to strive until we have that access to health care,” Sen. Campbell said. “What we learned in this session is we need to talk to our neighbors, our friends, people we associate with at work, at church, at school, and in our neighborhoods. We need to describe to others why this is so important and that their voices would ring with all of the senators.”
Amanda Gerson, a young, working woman from Lincoln told the crowd LB 887 would have allowed her to get health coverage she currently can’t afford. Ms. Gershon has a number of health conditions that cause constant pain and make work difficult.
“I’m blessed to have so many people in my life who support me, and 27 of those are state senators,” she said, referring to the number of senators who voted to support LB 887.
State senator Al Davis said he became a supporter of the Wellness In Nebraska Act because it would help many people as well as the rural hospitals in his north-central Nebraska district. Sen. Davis said he would introduce an interim study to look at the effects of Nebraska not passing an expanded Medicaid program, which would have brought $2 billion dollars back to Nebraska’s economy to support health care access.
“A lot of the uninsured are people who have serious health problems. They’re uninsured because they can’t afford it,” Sen. Davis said. “We have to do something for our citizens. If we don’t, that’s just criminal.”
It is going to take all Nebraskans who care about solving this problem working together to make it happen. Here are a couple things you can do to help.
- Share your story! If you are one of the 54,000 uninsured Nebraskans who falls into the Medicaid gap, or know someone who is, it is critical the people share their stories to help spread the word about how our current system is keeping Nebraskans and our state from achieving its potential. Contact Adelle Burk of Nebraska Appleseed at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (402) 438-8853, Ext. 124.
- Keep up the conversation! Call or email your state senator’s office and tell them health care access for all Nebraskans is important to you. Let them know we need a solution to this problem in the next legislative session. You can also write a letter or opinion piece in your local newspaper, and we’re happy to help. If you’re interested in writing a piece for your local newspaper, email Nebraska Appleseed Communications Director Jeff Sheldon at email@example.com.