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Thank you for visiting my website. This week has included debate on one of the most important issues of the session: The Affordable Health Care Act (ACA), and the expansion of Medicaid in Nebraska. This discussion became necessary last year when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that expanding Medicaid was an optional provision in the ACA. States must decide if they will cover their low-income residents (who currently do not qualify for Medicaid benefits) through this expansion.
LB 577, introduced by Senator Kathy Campbell, is the Medicaid bill advanced by the Health and Human Services Committee. It would require the Department of Health and Human Services to add the newly eligible adult population, as outlined in the federal ACA, to the Nebraska Medicaid plan. The bill also outlines the health coverage provided under the program. State officials predict that health care coverage could be extended to approximately 54,000 uninsured Nebraskans under this bill.
Proponents argued that the bill would help working families and people who need assistance now but simply do not qualify for Medicaid. It would also bring federal dollars into Nebraska, where those dollars can be used more efficiently. Opponents expressed concerns about the cost of expanding medical services to thousand of people. They also questioned whether there are health care professionals available to provide these services.
During floor debate this week, an amendment was adopted that would require the Nebraska Legislature to revisit this Medicaid expansion if the federal government does not honor its promise to fund at least 90% of the expansion. During the first three years (2014-2016), the federal government has committed to paying for 100% of the expansion. Federal funding decreases to 90% between 2016- 2020. I was one of the 30 senators who voted in favor of this amendment.
After 10½ hours of debate, Speaker Greg Adams decided to suspend debate on LB 577. Senator Campbell does not have the necessary 33 votes to stop debate and proceed to a vote (cloture). There are five amendments currently filed on the bill, which must be addressed before the bill can advance without cloture. LB 577 may be brought up for debate again this year if an agreement is reached between the two sides.
I appreciate hearing from constituents so you can be represented. Currently, more supporters than opponents have contacted me on this bill. If you would like to share your thoughts on this legislation (or any other bill before the Legislature), please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may send a letter to: Senator Kate Bolz, District 29, State Capitol, PO Box 94604, Lincoln, Nebraska 68509, or call my office at 402 – 471 – 2734. My staff and I look forward to hearing from you.