Voter-Approved Medicaid Expansion Rolls Out in Nebraska
Nebraska was one of three states with Republican-controlled legislatures where voters last year approved an expansion.
By Grant Schulte
Marti Poll knows she should see a doctor. Sometimes she has a severe tightness in her chest. She also has chronic sinus and ear infections.
But she can’t afford the medical bills, so she simply waits and hopes the pain will subside.
She thought her wait might end soon after voters approved a Medicaid expansion that would allow people like her who earn too much money to qualify for the health care program but who can’t afford to buy insurance on their own. But more than seven months later, Poll and some 90,000 other Nebraska residents who could qualify are still waiting — and will be for 15 more months as Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts’ administration says it’s working to ensure the smooth implementation of an expansion that voters passed despite his objections.
“I think this would help a lot of people,” said Poll, 55, who lives outside Lincoln and works as an office assistant and janitor. “Are they just looking to do it right, or are they obfuscating? That’s the question I have.”
Some of the skepticism stems from Republicans’ long objections to expanding Medicaid under the federal health care law championed by Democratic former President Barack Obama. Medicaid, which provides health coverage for lower-income and disabled Americans, is funded jointly by states and the federal government. The 2010 Affordable Care Act encouraged states to expand Medicaid by promising that the federal government would cover most of the cost.