***For Immediate Release***
September 13, 2016
Contact, Jeff Sheldon
Communications Director, Nebraska Appleseed
Office: (402) 438-8853
Mobile: (402) 840-7289
New Census data: 154,000 Nebraskans remain without Health Insurance
Expanding Medicaid would further reduce uninsured population by 64 percent
LINCOLN — The number of Nebraskans living without health insurance has declined by more than 50,000 over the last three years, but 154,000 Nebraskans still remain without health insurance according to new data released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Despite the welcome news that the rate of Nebraskans without insurance dropped from 11.3 percent in 2013 to 8.3 percent last year, too many Nebraskans still remain unable to afford health insurance because the state continues to delay covering working families under Medicaid.
According to the Legislative Fiscal Office, approximately 98,000 Nebraskans fall into what is called a “coverage gap,” with incomes too high to qualify for traditional Medicaid, but too low to receive tax credits to purchase private insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace. These people could gain coverage if Nebraska expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
“Our Legislature can immediately address one of the state’s biggest problems by covering families under Medicaid next session so nearly 100,000 hard-working, uninsured Nebraskans can get the coverage they need to get healthy,” said Nebraska Appleseed Health Care Director James Goddard. “Expanding Medicaid is the next step our Legislature must take to fight poverty and improve the quality of life for thousands of our working friends and neighbors.”
Read the report: “Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2015”
Nebraska’s uninsured rate has decreased thanks to the Affordable Care Act with more than 87,000 Nebraskans buying coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace in the 2015-16 enrollment period. However, Nebraska’s uninsured rate has fallen less dramatically than in the 31 states and the District of Columbia that have expanded Medicaid and lags behind the national pace of Americans who have gained coverage nationwide.
Goddard said that in a state with one of the nation’s lowest unemployment rates, covering uninsured families under Medicaid would help tens of thousands of people who are valuable to Nebraska’s workforce. Approximately 73 percent of Nebraskans in the coverage gap hold jobs or have held jobs in the last year.
“People in the coverage gap work jobs that are important to our economy, but that typically don’t provide health insurance, like construction and restaurant workers. Ensuring these people can get health coverage would be an instant step toward a healthier workforce,” Goddard said. “Every Nebraskan should have affordable health insurance. Covering working families under Medicaid is the right choice for the health of our working people and the strength of our economy.”
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