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November 6, 2018, is Election Day this year. You are still able to vote early at your local election commissioner’s office. With less than two weeks until the election, I would like to remind and update you on an important issue appearing on this year’s ballot. Initiative Measure 427 was placed on the ballot after receiving enough petition signatures over the summer. The measure would expand Medicaid across the entire state of Nebraska. This week I would like to explain why I am in opposition to this measure.
The Medicaid expansion measure does not relate to everyday hardworking people of Nebraska. This is obvious when looking at the fundraising gathered to put this measure on the ballot. According to Ballotpedia.com, as of October 22nd about $1,292,000 which is over 75% of the total money raised in support of this initiative came for Washington D.C. based groups. The majority of this money was given from outside of our state and does not represent Nebraskans.
This year I urge residents of Nebraska to oppose Initiative 427. The risk of expanding Medicaid in the state will, in fact, have a negative impact on those it was created to help. The federal government requires that states provide 13 mandatory services. States may offer an additional 19 optional services. Nebraska is one of few states that provides all the optional services to those on Medicaid. If Initiative 427 were to pass there is a good chance those optional services will be eliminated. The most vulnerable Nebraskans would be impacted. People with disabilities, children, and pregnant women would have their services taken away, while the working-age adults with no disabilities or children would be the new focus.
Another disastrous impact the initiative could have would be to the state’s budget. Nebraska is unique in which we must have a balanced budget every year. According to Nebraska’s Legislative Fiscal Office and Department of Health and Human Services, if the initiative were to pass the estimated cost for the taxpayers would be $33 million in 2019-20 and up to $768 million over the next decade. Most states that have passed Medicaid expansion have seen higher costs than expected. For example, Ohio projected 365,000 new enrollees would sign up in the first year that projection was exceeded in the first seven months. Ohio’s 2016-2017 budget had Medicaid consuming more than half of their general operating funds. I ask if it didn’t work in other states, what makes Nebraska different?
Next session property tax relief is at the top of my list. If Initiative 427 passes, the state will find itself searching for the funds. This could mean a rise in property taxes or taking money away from other important services, such as education and current Medicaid. Nebraska, according to the Tax Foundation, has the 12th highest property taxes per capita in the United States. The citizens of Nebraska deserve a decrease in property taxes, not an increase. If Initiative 427 passes that decrease may not come any time soon.