By DON WALTON Originally published by Lincoln Journal Star

Jan 17, 2017

Sen. Adam Morfeld of Lincoln on Tuesday introduced legislation to expand Medicaid coverage in Nebraska, suggesting it as a means of transitioning into a forthcoming Republican health care plan.

“LB441 allows us to bring home $775 million (in federal funds) paid in part by hard-working Nebraska taxpayers to reduce health care costs, improve efficiency in our Medicaid system and make sure the workers who are the backbone of our state’s economy are as healthy and productive as they can be,” Morfeld said.

President-elect Donald Trump and the Republican majority in both the Senate and the House have promised to replace the Affordable Care Act with a new GOP plan.

Congress has taken action to repeal ACA, or Obamacare, with its provisions essentially remaining in effect until a replacement plan is enacted. Current provisions of Obamacare provide a lopsided infusion of federal funds to expand Medicaid in states that enroll in the program.

Nearly 100,000 Nebraskans, most of whom hold modest-paying jobs, would qualify for the new program.

Acquiring a large influx of federal funding assistance would strengthen the state’s health care system in advance of the new Republican health care plan, Morfeld said.

House Speaker Paul Ryan “has repeatedly indicated their desire to keep the Affordable Care Act in place until it is replaced and LB441 will ensure a smooth transition to the Republican health care plan for working Nebraskans,” he said.

Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia already have created plans to participate in ACA’s Medicaid expansion provisions.

The Legislature rejected the most recent plan to access that additional federal Medicaid assistance last year.

In order to access $775 million in federal funds under current ACA provisions, the state would need to provide about $12 million in state funding.

“For too long, tens of thousands of Nebraskans have struggled with no way to get health insurance,” Nebraska Appleseed health care director James Goddard said.

“They are people we see every day working on construction sites and farms, in our schools, hotels and restaurants. These (often) are single parents fighting to give their children a better future.”

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