This morning the Governor announced a series of meetings regarding a health insurance exchange in Nebraska. The exchanges under the Affordable Care Act are a great opportunity to create a marketplace that provides consumers with clear information and choices and will result in access to health care for thousands of Nebraskans and a stronger future for our state. A broad array of stakeholders have been discussing this opportunity for over a year. Continuing this dialogue through these public forums is a positive step.
“The Affordable Care Act presents Nebraska with important opportunities and real solutions to make health care more accessible and affordable for Nebraskans,” said Jennifer Carter, Director of the Health Care Access Program at Nebraska Appleseed. “There are 217,000 uninsured Nebraskans and thousands more who struggle to afford health insurance coverage. Our focus should always be on how to make these opportunities work for Nebraskans and having input from the public is critical to achieving that goal.”
Under the Affordable Care Act, the state has a choice of creating a state-based exchange, allowing the federal government to facilitate a Nebraska exchange, or creating a regional exchange. States can apply for and receive a large grant from the federal government to pay for the creation of the exchange. Afterwards, under the law, the exchange must be self-sustaining, that is, it must be structured in a way that will support its administration so that there is no general fund impact to taxpayers. Nebraska has already applied for and received $6.4 million in grants from the federal government to help the Department of Insurance plan for an exchange.
If planned well, the result will be an easily accessible marketplace where Nebraskans can go to see what private insurance plan options they have and to apply to receive tax credits to help pay for coverage. More than 187,400 Nebraskans may be eligible for tax credits through the exchange.