Nebraskans celebrate introduction of new Transitional Health Insurance Program

Plan would return Nebraska tax dollars to the state for private health coverage for 77,000 uninsured Nebraskans

NE_Appleseed_Icons_StateCapital-128Today, a bipartisan group of State Senators unveiled a new health coverage bill that would create a pathway to affordable health coverage desperately needed by 77,000 uninsured Nebraskans who currently cannot afford insurance.

The plan, called the “Transitional Health Insurance Program,” or T-HIP, was created by State Sen. John McCollister (LD-20, Omaha), Sen. Kathy Campbell (LD-25, Lincoln), and Sen. Heath Mello (LD-5, Omaha). It would allow Nebraska to return approximately $2 billion in tax dollars to the state to purchase private health coverage for nearly 77,000 uninsured Nebraskans who currently cannot afford health insurance.

The plan was released at a State Capitol press conference Tuesday morning.

“Every Nebraskan needs to be able to afford health coverage, but too many of our hard-working friends and neighbors have been left out of our health care system,” Sen. McCollister said.

T-HIP provides a path to affordable coverage for 77,000 Nebraskans like Sarah Parker of Lincoln, who lost health coverage after reducing her employment hours in order to care for her father after he was diagnosed with a degenerative illness.

“I’m so happy I was able to care for my father, but that also meant losing my health coverage,” Parker said. “In recent months my own health conditions have caused me to compile significant medical debt that would have been avoided if I had insurance. I’ve worked hard and paid into the system all my life, and I want to do so again. But, first I need to get healthy so I can go back to work full-time. I’m asking our State Senators to support this new plan so people like me can have our best shot at a healthy life.”

The T-HIP plan is a private market-based alternative to Medicaid expansion that will allow the state to bring billions of Nebraska’s tax dollars home to pay for coverage in our existing, private insurance system while boosting jobs, improving the health of the workforce, and ensuring personal accountability. Under T-HIP most participants would contribute to the cost of their care.

T-HIP also encourages responsible use of our health care system. The plan facilitates relationships between patients and primary care providers, as well as utilization of patient-centered medical homes. T-HIP also links participants in need of jobs to employment and skills training through the newly created Transitional Health Insurance Employment Program.

“We are encouraged to see State Senators working together on a new plan to cover 77,000 uninsured Nebraskans,” Nebraska Appleseed Executive Director Rebecca Gould said. “For too long, this group of hard-working low-income, Nebraskans has gone without the meaningful health coverage everyone needs. Our tax dollars have left the state and not returned, and our health care system has had to absorb the high costs of uncompensated care.  We look forward to working with the Legislature to pass the Transitional Health Insurance Program this session.”

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