Nebraskans will choose more than just leaders this Election Day on Nov. 6 — also on the ballot will be Nebraska Initiative 427, the Medicaid Expansion Initiative.
The piece of legislation aims to expand Medicaid in Nebraska to people under the age of 65 who earn a yearly income of 138 percent of the poverty level or less. This would insure Nebraskans who do not currently qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford health care.
A “yes” vote on the ballot initiative votes for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act on or before April 1, 2019. A vote “no” maintains the pre-Affordable Care Act level of funding.
The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, provided the funds to expand Medicaid on the state level, and a 2012 Supreme Court decision, NFIB v Sebelius, made the Medicaid expansion optional for states.
In 2018, the federal government paid for 94 percent of state Medicaid expansion costs, and after 2020 the federal government will pay for 90 percent.
Utah and Idaho have similar initiatives on the ballot this November that would expand Medicaid.
Many organizations in the state support the bill, including Insure the Good Life and the ACLU of Nebraska. The organization Americans for Prosperity, which did not respond to The Daily Nebraskan at the time of publication, opposes the bill, according to the organization’s official website.
State Sen. Adam Morfeld supports the bill because of the benefits he sees for his constituents in District 46 and Nebraska as a whole. He said this expansion will impact many Nebraskans making between $12,000 and $36,000 per year, depending on the size of their families.
Morfeld said Nebraskans are already paying for other states to receive Medicaid expansion funding in federal income tax dollars, and the bill would return 10 times the tax burden placed on Nebraskans.
“We’ve made excuses for the last seven years now to not expand Medicaid, but we haven’t done anything as an alternative, and what that’s resulted in is people going bankrupt because they can’t afford basic medical services,” Morfeld said.
Some students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln said they would benefit from the initiative, including Tessa Faust, a junior advertising and public relations major.
Faust said the Medicaid expansion would give her enough money to continue going to UNL, and it would keep her from paying her health care costs out of pocket.
Faust said the increased tax on other Nebraskans is necessary to keep people alive and if she could pay for her own insurance, she would.
There is no perfect fix for health care in America, but this Medicare expansion would help make ends meet, Faust said.
However, the bill is not without opposition. Landon Renli, a freshman at UNL, is against the increased tax burden the bill will impose.
Renli said he does not believe that it is the responsibility of the government to fill gaps left in the health care system.
“Personally, I’m a big proponent of charity,” he said.
Renli is concerned that the bill will harm Nebraskan businesses. “I think it will sort of limit the economy,” he said. “I think the more taxes that come out of a paycheck, the less that is able to go into investing.”