Last modified September 10, 2014
According to the Thursday, April 19, 2013 Legislative Journal (official record of Unicameral proceedings), District 10 State Senator Bob Krist withdrew his name as co-introducer of LB577 just prior to adjournment. The bill he co-introduced with District 25 State Senator Kathy Campbell, proposes to exercise an optional provision1 Expansion of the voluntary program created in 1965 to provide medical insurance coverage for the most impoverished portion of the population, was ...continue of the 2010 health care law to significantly expand Nebraska’s Medicaid program to cover all childless Nebraskans ages 19-64 who earn up to 138% of the federal poverty level.
Senator Krist’s decision to withdraw his name as co-introducer was recorded one day after Speaker of the Legislature Greg Adams moved business beyond LB577 after noting the nearly 10 1/2 hours of debate on the bill and then announcing, “we are going to go on…”. Various Nebraska media reported that the Speaker decided to pull the Medicaid expansion bill after debate had taken up the majority of two legislative days without motions to vote. These reports confirm information GiN received from a Senator earlier in the afternoon regarding growing doubts about LB577 sponsors’ ability to get the 33 votes necessary for cloture.
Wednesday’s developments left LB577 in limbo and Senators’ statements did little to shed light on the bill’s future2 Since the issue has moved to state legislatures and also depends on gubernatorial approval, lobbying efforts and awareness of citizens has ...continue. News reports featured contradictory opinions about the number of available votes, but consistently featured LB577 advocates’ pledges to continue to lobby their colleagues. Speaker Adams left the door open for the bill’s return to the floor should the number of votes increase within the time remaining in the 90-day session. Friday marked the 63rd day of the 103rd Legislature’s 1st session, which is scheduled to end June 5.
Krist’s withdrawal is likely to have significant impact on LB577’s future due to the importance of the issue and to his very energetic advocacy throughout the session.
One five minute turn at the debate microphone on Wednesday was dedicated to frustration that his “Republican credentials” were in question. The Senator has referred repeatedly to a large volume of email he’s receiving, some asserting that he’s not a “real Republican”. Just how many emails are from constituents and how many are the result of Republican Party leadership efforts to apply pressure, is unclear. The Douglas County Republican Party has sent several emails and Facebook alerts3 See Nebraska Watchdog article for reference to Facebook alerts. urging people to contact the Senator (and sometimes, others). In addition, Krist spoke at length Wednesday with Nebraska Watchdog about what he described as significant pressure on Senators from Governor Dave Heineman, stating, “When the governor thinks something is important, everybody in the governor’s office becomes a lobbyist”.4 Interestingly, Krist and his colleagues in the Unicameral seem undisturbed by the fact that one of their own number is apparently a lobbyist ...continue
In comments reported by the Lincoln Journal Star, Krist explained that his decision to formally separate himself from LB577 and its funding bill, LB578, does not reflect a retreat from his position that expansion is the right thing to do. He expressed a clear intention to continue to pursue expansion, but conceded the possibility that LB577 may need to be rewritten and its scope changed.
Krist’s concession in this regard may signal dissension in the ranks of LB577’s supporters, with the bill’s main proponents clinging to LB577 in its present form and dedicated to pushing it through this session but with Krist trying to muster support for an altered vision for expansion from outside. Only time will tell.
One Capitol source[5. From time to time we do cite anonymous sources, but they are not anonymous to us. The information regarding events on Thursday associated with LB577 is reliable enough to publish, but we are holding simply because we want more information to ensure our understanding is complete.] reports that additional events relevant to LB577 occurred on Thursday, which we will attempt to confirm next week5 The “additional LB577 events on Thursday” are mostly not recorded in the public record. One event that was recorded but is not as ...continue
This article series is about Nebraska’s Medicaid program, legislation introduced in the Unicameral aimed at expanding it, and the many reasons why expansion is an uncommonly bad idea.
This first grouping of articles don’t necessarily have to be read in order as they are research, principle, and policy focused:
- NE Medicaid Expansion: The Race is On
- Let’s See What Condition Our Condition is In
- People Don’t Walk Away From a Fool and His Money
- Sending Granny (and Gramps) to the Home
- Congratulations! She’s Having His Baby . . . And You’re Paying for It!
- Families Need Medicaid Like Fish Need Bicycles
- Money for Nothing and Health Care for Free
- Projections re Cost of Medicaid Expansion: Too Good to Be True
- LB577: Nebraska’s Unaffordable Care Act
- Pelosian Economics: Medicaid Expansion as Fiscal Stimulus
This next grouping of articles report events affecting the progress of legislation in the Unicameral, listed in the order in which they were published:
- Unicameral’s Health Committee to Hear Medicaid Expansion Bill (LB577) Feb. 28th
- It’s Funny? Even If Medicaid Expansion Saved Money, Citizens Wouldn’t See a Penny
- Nebraska Medicaid Expansion: LB577 in Limbo
- This article
Image of Bob Krist from Unicameral Update
Notes & References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Expansion of the voluntary program created in 1965 to provide medical insurance coverage for the most impoverished portion of the population, was originally mandated by the 2010 health care law. The June 2012 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court held the mandatory expansion unconstitutional, citing precedent regarding state sovereignty. Nebraska is not the only state where the future of Medicaid is uncertain. Due to the Supreme Court’s ruling that the Medicaid expansion is optional, in many states the issue is necessarily the object of intense debate and impacted by the unique political landscape.|
|2.||↑||Since the issue has moved to state legislatures and also depends on gubernatorial approval, lobbying efforts and awareness of citizens has increased, making individual state outcomes more uncertain than projected by analysts, most of whom are nationally-oriented. Two separate analyses gave two separate predictions for what Nebraska will do with Medicaid expansion, for instance. According to such analyses and some news reports, approximately half of the states to date have opted to expand their program, but the other half includes states which have decided not to expand, are undecided, or are leaning in one direction or the other. See The Advisory Board Daily Briefing “Where each state stands on ACA’s Medicaid expansion” and NASUAD’s State Medicaid Tracker.|
|3.||↑||See Nebraska Watchdog article for reference to Facebook alerts.|
|4.||↑||Interestingly, Krist and his colleagues in the Unicameral seem undisturbed by the fact that one of their own number is apparently a lobbyist employed by Building Bright Futures, a non-profit entity located in Omaha that would benefit from Medicaid expansion within the state. See Senator Jeremy Nordquist Listens to His Master’s Voice . . . But Who’s His Master? and Senator Nordquist Admits His Associations Appear Improper — Sorta. Besides Senator Jeremy Nordquist’s employment, Krist’s position seems inconsistent in considering other Senators and formal relationships with entities that could be questioned as to the extent of lobbying they do in regard to them. One of those also involves Senator Jeremy Nordquist – One World Clinic. One World receives extensive taxpayer funding and has directly benefited from actions taken by the State Legislature in the past; on its website’s “Donate” page, it directly solicits visitors to contact government entities, including the Legislature. Both Senators Nordquist and Heath Mello are members of the organization’s board. In addition, State Senator Sara Howard is One World’s “Development Specialist”, meaning it is her job to secure funding. Another questionable relationship we’ve pointed out before is the fact that Senator Kathy Campbell works at Cedars, which provides youth and family services in cooperation with the Lancaster County Heath Department, meaning the bill she introduced stands to directly impact her employer and a government entity with which that employer works.|
|5.||↑||The “additional LB577 events on Thursday” are mostly not recorded in the public record. One event that was recorded but is not as significant in our estimation, was the introduction of MO49 by Senator Jim Smith. Senator Smith’s motion would “bracket” LB577 until April 1, 2014. According to the Nebraska Legislature Glossary, to bracket a bill means “to delay consideration” of it. There doesn’t seem to be any action on MO49 since it was introduced.|