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MEDICAID EXPANSION INITIATIVE 427
With the Medicaid expansion measure on the ballot this year, I wanted to express my thoughts on why I am in favor of Initiative 427.
If passed, Medicaid expansion will provide coverage for 90,000 hardworking Nebraskans. Those who would be covered work at jobs that come without health care coverage and have annual incomes of $16,753 for an individual and $34,638 for a household of four.
They are our family members, friends, and neighbors who live in both rural and urban areas. They work jobs in restaurants and shops, in home health care, on construction sites, on farms and ranches, and more.
The problems for people who can’t afford health care include severe illness or even death from treatable illnesses, loss of a job, bankruptcy, homelessness, and legal problems.
Those of us who can afford health insurance or have coverage through an employer understand how important preventative health care can be. For many who do not have health insurance and are struggling to make day to day financial decisions, preventative care can take a back seat. This means that many can’t afford a doctor’s visit for an illness, yearly checkups, or cancer screenings. Illnesses go undiscovered or are ignored until they are so sick that the emergency room is the first care they receive.
Preventative health care is essential whether you have insurance or not and has a major effect on the cost of health care as well as insurance premiums. Our fellow Americans who live in states that have expanded Medicaid use preventative services more than low-income individuals who live in states like Nebraska which haven’t yet expanded Medicaid.
The expansion of Medicaid will not only benefit individuals and families but also will provide economic growth with the dollars that will be spent for needed health care. A recent report from researchers at the University of Nebraska at Kearney shows that the federal funds received from expanding Medicaid will flow from the health sector into supporting services and Nebraska’s economy, touching all Nebraskans.
The report also shows that expanding Medicaid will reduce uncompensated care and will help protect the health infrastructure necessary for a strong local economy, particularly in rural areas.
In 33 other states, Medicaid expansion has improved the health and lives of low-income Americans through increased access to primary care and preventative care. It’s time to pass Initiative 427 and expand health care for our 90,000 Nebraskan neighbors who need it, while growing our economy with the federal tax dollars we all have paid.
Note: This opinion was also published in The Grand Island Independent on October 26, 2018.
CONGRATULATIONS TO GRAND ISLAND PUBLIC SCHOOLS!
Grand Island Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Grover and me at the GEAR UP announcement on October 15.
On Monday, October 15, I attended the Grand Island Public Schools (GIPS) announcement that they won a Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) seven-year federal matching grant for a new college readiness program. Only 24 GEAR UP grants were awarded in the country, and this was the only GEAR UP grant awarded in the state. I am incredibly proud of the hard work and effort put in by both GIPS and members of the community not only to win this grant but also to earn the in-kind contributions and partner matches for a total impact of over $13 million! I look forward to seeing GEAR UP implemented in the coming years to benefit students in our community and prepare them with the skills to attend post-secondary education.
MIDWEST INTERSTATE PASSENGER RAIL COMMISSION (MIPRC) ANNUAL MEETING
All of us on Milwaukee’s new streetcar, The Hop, during the MIPRC annual meeting.
On October 3-5, I joined 53 others to attend annual meeting of the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission (MIPRC) in Milwaukee, WI. During the meeting, I toured the Milwaukee Intermodal Station, which recently gained a new passenger concourse, and the maintenance facility for Milwaukee’s streetcar system, known as “The Hop,” which is scheduled to begin next month. This new system will provide increased access to parts of Milwaukee for its residents and visitors. I also attended presentations on a wide variety of topics related to passenger rail systems, including recent states’ developments and updates from the region.
I appreciated the opportunity to meet with so many individuals interested in developing passenger rail systems in the Midwest. When looking for new locations, many businesses are interested in seeing what types of public transportation we offer in the community or state, and I am also excited to explore the ways this can benefit Nebraska’s tourism industry.
HOLLAND CHILDREN’S MOVEMENT HONOR ROLL AWARDS
I attended the Holland Children’s Movement Honor Roll Awards on Thursday, October 18. I was recognized alongside 19 other state senators for receiving an “A” grade for standing up for children and working families in the Nebraska Legislature. I am very grateful to the Holland Children’s Movement for recognizing me, and I plan to continue fighting for children and families in our community and in our state.