This week the Urban Institute released a fiscal study of the effects felt by states that have not chosen to fully implement the Affordable Care Act by expanding Medicaid to people who make up to 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.
This study shows us just how much it’s costing Nebraska’s health care system to continue to forgo expanding Medicaid, the cost of which would be paid fully by the federal government through 2017.
From now until 2022, Nebraska is losing out on $3.1 billion in federal funds to provide health coverage to tens of thousands of our poorest people.
Meanwhile, Nebraska hospitals are taking an enormous hit, losing out on $1.6 billion in care reimbursement payments that would be made through the newly eligible Medicaid clients.
These funds we could be bringing back to our state are tax dollars Nebraskans already are paying to fund Medicaid expansions in other states, meaning we are getting nothing here at home for those tax dollars.
Those lost dollars will put a strain on the budgets of our state’s hospitals, especially those in rural areas, which will be faced with rising uncompensated care costs. In the last year, 20 of the 22 rural hospitals in the U.S. that have closed are in states that did not expand Medicaid. And we’re already seeing hospitals getting a big boost in states that did expand Medicaid.
Now we have further evidence that by passing up the Medicaid expansion portion of the Affordable Care Act, we’re not only paying a high human cost by denying health coverage to at least 54,000 of our friends and neighbors, we’re throwing away an enormous amount of money.
It is vitally important our state Legislature votes to expand Medicaid for the future sustainability of our health care system and the future health of our people.