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The current care gap that excludes families that include children with severe disabilities has led to Nebraska having the 5th highest cost of services in the nation. We end up paying for the most expensive services. This waiver will help us bring down the average cost of services from $63,000 per individual to a $12,000 cap. It may look like new money but really this is just changing where we would spend the money — from emergency services that cost us on average over $130,000 per individual per year to ensuring these children get the proper early and preventative services in their home instead of in an emergency room.
I believe these changes will decrease the number of children currently on the waiting list for home and community-based services. It will also provide support to family caregivers, allowing them to remain in the workforce. Remaining in the workforce means the family and the state can benefit from the family caregivers’ private health insurance as a first payer, thereby lessening the demand on Medicaid.
I introduced the bill last year. On general file, or first round of debate, the bill had good support. On select file, even though it was a committee priority bill and was already calculated into the budget, the bill was filibustered and failed to advance. This year, I gave the bill my personal priority to get it back on the agenda. After some negotiation and an amendment, LB 376 has advanced to final reading.