Health Care Debate in Nebraska Heats Up
Omaha, NE - Governor Dave Heineman told Nebraska lawmakers Wednesday that he will not allow the state's Medicaid director to attend a health care planning session, calling it an "organizational meeting" with advocates who want to expand the program.
The Governor repeated an earlier warning that he will oppose any efforts to extend Medicaid coverage in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on the federal health care law.
"The bottom line is the unfunded Medicaid expansion will ultimately cost the State of Nebraska hundreds of millions of dollars," Heineman said in the open letter to lawmakers.
The meeting was organized by Senator Jeremy Nordquist and co-sponsored by Senator Kathy Campbell and Senator Mike Gloor.
“Our governor has never been a leader on health care policy,” said Nordquist. “He’s been governor since 2005 and he's never proposed legislation to expand health care or reduce health care costs."
The meeting set for Thursday will include doctors, hospital administrators, consumer groups and insurance industry representatives.
Nordquist says he will continue to work on expanding Medicaid with or without the governor and take it to his fellow legislators.
“If the governor continues to refuse the legislature we can move forward with the legislation expansion, just like we restored prenatal care to unborn children last year,” said Nordquist. “We can expand this Medicaid coverage in the legislature"
Heineman said in his letter that expanding Medicaid could force a tax increase or drain money from K-12 education, a network of small state colleges, and the University of Nebraska.
He said expanding Medicaid would also add to the state's projected shortfall.
Senator Nordquist says the Governor is playing politics.