***For Immediate Release***
Friday, April 10, 2020
Contact: Molly McCleery
Health Care Access Program Director, Nebraska Appleseed
C: (641) 891-7201
Delay of complex waiver provisions bolsters case to start Medicaid expansion now
LINCOLN—Today, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services announced changes to how they are moving forward with Medicaid Expansion implementation. In response, Molly McCleery, Health Care Access Program Director at Nebraska Appleseed, issued the following statement:
“The COVID-19 public health crisis has further revealed how much the health care coverage gap harms our communities. Closing this gap as quickly as possible is not only the right thing to do for our family members, friends, and neighbors, but it is one of the most effective tools we have right now to help contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus across the state.
Since Nebraska voters passed the initiative to take up Medicaid expansion in November of 2018, we have repeatedly said a complex waiver was not required and would violate the language of the initiative. Today’s announcement from DHHS confirms that wellness and personal responsibility activities, work requirements, and ending retroactive coverage were never necessary to start the program. It also confirms that the prime benefits package can start by October 1 and, therefore, those critical benefits should be provided to all enrollees as part of this new approach.
While we appreciate that coverage will not be further delayed beyond October 1, 2020, by the approach the Department plans to take, we maintain they can and should start coverage now. Starting the program now would allow the over 90,000 Nebraskans currently without coverage to be able to receive needed health care services to care for themselves, their families, their communities, and in many cases continue carrying out essential front line work in health care and food production and distribution.
We continue to call on the Governor and the Legislature to take this vital step now to ensure we use every tool at our disposal to slow the spread of this virus and help people performing essential work in our communities in this critical time.”