Last updated September 15, 2014
To read how Nebraska’s State Senators voted on this bill, see our article, “How NE Senators Voted: LB599 (and FUNDING) Veto Overrides”
UPDATE Thursday, April 29, 2012 @6:39pm: Unfortunately, the NE Unicameral voted 30 to 16 to override the Governor’s veto on LB599 this afternoon between 4-5pm.
NE Senators to Vote Wed., April 18, Last Session Day LB599 Veto Override
Will our legislators vote to expand Nebraska Medicaid (again!), create a whole new program, invite irresponsibility, and roll out the welcome mat for illegal immigrants?
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- We’ve heard all of the arguments (we think) and tried to handle them — and then some
LB599 is NOT a Pro-Life Bill
- To be “Pro-life”, in the traditional sense, has been, first and foremost about stopping abortions
- This bill moves beyond preventing or stopping abortions to opening the door for government to affirmatively legislate the quality of life, rather than protecting the RIGHT TO LIFE ITSELF1 One of the best arguments we’ve seen on this subject appeared by way of a comment on the Leavenworth Street site on April 15 @9:25pm, which responded to a the particular statement by Nebraska Right to Life State Director Julie Schmit-Albin’s statement, “Opponents to LB 599 have abandoned the pro-life position on this particular issue.” Macdaddy replied, “Julie, you are absolutely wrong. Somehow you got it into your head that the pro-life movement is a socialist movement. It is not. It is a movement to keep babies from getting sucked out of the womb and tossed in the incinerator. There used to be an argument that was used to say that welfare is awesome and shouldn’t be cut otherwise women will opt for abortion. But you aren’t arguing that providing this will decrease abortion because you know that that argument is false. Now you are arguing that a baby will come out healthier and that the pro-life thing to do is have government provide some services for free. This is an argument for socialism and is the same argument underpinning Obamacare. Your logic leads directly to a totalitarian government. Do you let children ride bicycles? Hundreds die in bike accidents every year. You aren’t pro-life. Do you let kids ride in cars? Thousands die every year. You aren’t pro-life. Do you allow a religious exemption to skip vaccines? You absolutely aren’t pro-life, hell, that’s even child abuse. Pools should be outlawed. Fat should be outlawed. Refined sugar. Guns, knives, bats, husbands. If you don’t go to the dentist twice a year, you should go to jail. Your logic leaves absolutely nothing off-limits to the reach of the government. Oh, wait. How many people die due to government mistakes each year? This is not a pro-life bill. It is a pro-socialism bill. I thank the government (sic) for vetoing it.” Macdaddy references government involvement in what people eat – think that’s nuts? A dietician testified in support of LB599 on March 16, 2011, but also advocated for strengthening of the bill’s language to include “medical nutrition therapy services for pregnant mothers” (hearing transcript p. 14-15) .
- The otherwise ineligible population previously improperly covered, when dropped, did not run to seek abortions, as scare mongers predicted in early 2010
- Advocates have stopped even trying to make the case that NOT passing LB599 will increase abortion
- Abortions are more expensive than prenatal care and payment is expected up front – if a woman cannot afford prenatal care, it’s even more unlikely she can afford an abortion
- Nebraska’s abortion rate actually WENT DOWN in 2010 by 3.4%
In addition, regarding a coherent, comprehensive PRO-LIFE policy:
- LB599 advocates seem purposefully blind to the fact that government’s increasing expansion into the health care economy – for which many of them have been consistent advocates – has directly contributed to ratcheting cost, putting “affordable” health care further out of reach for low income people
- Prior Medicaid expansions – for which many advocates previously pushed – by States were significant contributors to a Federal take over of the health care economy
- The health care law (PPACA) necessarily entails rationing2 In addition to the article linked, “Obama’s Health Rationer-in-Chief“, readers should note rationing in health care will occur through health care provisions buried in the Stimulus bill (February 2009), as explained by former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey in February 2009, in her editorial, “Ruin Your Health With The Obama Stimulus Plan” , which endangers the LIVES, particularly of the old and the feeble
LB599 Will NOT Save Money
- The whole “savings” excuse rests on the presumption that these children will be born and will remain on the dole their entire lives, which may or may not prove true.
- Subsidize something and you get more of it.
- Without the LB599 subsidy and others like it, the affected women and their partners would be more likely to “plan” parenthood without ignoring financial considerations as they now do.
- A U.S. Census report shows that women who are dependent on public assistance are approximately three times more likely to give birth than women who are not3 See page 7 of this report .
- This census data is consistent with what we’re seeing here in Nebraska. About 12 to 14 percent of Nebraskans are currently receiving Medicaid. BUT they account for an average of 43 percent of all the births that have occurred in Nebraska over the last six years4 According to data collected by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (NE-DHHS) for the fiscal years indicated, the percentage of Nebraska births paid for by Medicaid fee-for-service and Medicaid Managed Care are as follows: 2000, 26.9%; 2001, 29.3%; 2002, 36.6%; 2003, 39.2%; 2004, 39.7%; 2005, 41.5%; 2006, 44.1%; 2007, 44.2%; 2008, 46.9%; 2009, 43.4%; 2010, 42.5%; and 2011, 37.7%. Nebraska’s Vital Statistics reports, according to NE-DHHS, do not adequately differentiate between Medicaid fee-for-service (traditional Medicaid) and Medicaid Managed Care payments, which can look like and are often classified by Vital Statistics as a private insurance payments. .
- Remove the subsidy, and having a family you can’t afford might actually appear to be the irresponsible, unfeasible, and unwise decision that it truly is.
- By encouraging prospective parents to make the responsible decision to delay conception, when their child or children are born, the entire cost of pregnancy, birth, and medical costs into the future will be borne by the parents, not one dime being financed by each of us with state funds.
- Now, that would be a REAL savings.
Is there any relationship between State Senators’ welfare expansionist policies and a chaotic child welfare system?
- Nebraska has an inordinate number of children in the child welfare system, and, an inordinate number who are removed from their homes.
- Given the data quoted above – the percentage of women on welfare programs who have children – are our policies encouraging people who are not adequately prepared to be parents to have more children?
QUESTIONABLE PROCESS Ignores Nebraska’s “Second House”
- The Nebraska Unicameral, as marketed by favorite son George Norris, was supposed to increase the input of Nebraskans – what is that Second House saying – and are Senators listening?
- Following an upsurge in constituent contacts, *2 more Senators* voted FOR the legislation5 First round vote, April 3, results: 30 YAY, 16 NAY, 1 Present and not voting, 1 Absent and not voting, 1 Excused and not voting; Second round vote, April 4, results: 29 YAY, 16 NAY, 2 Present and not voting, 2 excused and not voting; Third round vote, April 11, results: 31 YAY, 15 NAY, 3 Present and not voting , rather than against, begging the question: Who ARE they listening to? Lobbyists or constituents?
- LB599 came up very late in the session, with little fanfare, giving constituents little lead time or awareness. The first reading and debate did not occur until Day 47 – April 3 – at about 8pm, and then a second round of debate and voting occurred the very next day.
- LB599 had no hearings this year - constituents had no opportunity to have input other than by contacting their Senators.
Nebraska Senators Who Vigorously Support LB599 Have Apparent Conflicts of Interest
- Senator Kathy Campbell, the original introducer of the bill and the Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, reportedly works for an entity that would benefit from its passage 6 Although we have not had time to investigate this matter in full, it appears true that Senator Campbell works for Cedars, a youth and family entity that provides an array of services, including, according to its “Family Support & Prevention Services Page“, prenatal and postnatal services, in cooperation with the Lancaster County Health Department.
- Senator Jeremy Nordquist, a perennial advocate of welfare expansions, works for Building Brighter Futures, an entity which testified in support of LB599 (pages 25-26), and is a member-at-large on the Board of One World Clinic, which was reported to have $500,000 in Medicaid funding on the line
- Are there are others?
- Isn’t it important to avoid even the appearance of impropriety?
- What ARE the consequences, if any?7 Sadly, the answer seems to be ABSOLUTELY NO CONSEQUENCES for legislators with conflicts; State Senators are required to file “conflict of interest” statements with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission, but in a 2010 discussion with an NADC attorney, it was confirmed that there are NO statutory requirements to review or examine Senators’ filings, and no provisions for what constitutes unethical, or other inappropriate conduct.
Perhaps the most egregious action of all comes from Speaker Mike Flood…
- Flood moved the scheduled 60th and final day of the Unicameral session from the previously scheduled Thursday, April 12, to Wednesday, April 18, precisely in order to provide Senators an opportunity to override the Governor’s veto
- Smacks of the health care law’s “deem and pass” maneuvering – why not play it straight?
Advocate Bedfellows…Some Confused, Some Disturbing
- This bill has been aggressively advocated for by the Catholic Conference and Catholic Bishops Conference8 March 16, 2011 hearing transcript pages 23-25 , although some Catholics argue that advocacy for such public policy is a confusion of Catholic Doctrine.
- A Leavenworth Street commenter shared the following from an Encyclical Letter written by Pope John Paul II (Centesimus annus – 48):
“By intervening directly and depriving society of its responsibility, the Social Assistance State leads to a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase of public agencies, which are dominated more by bureaucratic ways of thinking than by concern for serving their clients, and which are accompanied by an enormous increase in spending.”
- “The principle of subsidiarity…meaning government closest to the people governs best…Through our civic organizations, through our churches, through our charities, through all of our different groups where we interact with people as a community, that’s how we advance the common good.9 Quotes from Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan. “
- It seems ironic that any Catholic entity would not be re-thinking its advocacy for government encroachment into private life following the recent debacle at the federal level regarding contraception coverage. How’s that lobbying for government intervention working out for the Catholic Church?
- But Catholic officials and organizations are not alone in advocating for “social justice” via government welfare expansion – at the March, 16, 2011 hearing for LB599, Presbyterian Reverend and Social Justice Chair for a 53 Iowa / Nebraska Presbytery (pages 19-20), Reverend Chuck Bentjen, Director of Manna and Mercy Center for Faith in Public Life (pages 12-14), Omaha Together, One Community -a “faith-based organization” (pages 20-21), testified in favor of LB599
- Unfortunately, Nebraska Right to Life, and other such pro-life organizations have stepped beyond the bounds of their mission, failing to look at the big picture10 Nebraska Right to Life testimony can be found on March 16, 2011 transcript pages 31-31 . (see above – “LB%99 is NOT a Pro-Life Issue”)
- The brochure from the “Symposium on Maternal Health in Nebraska” co-sponsors noted provides a checklist of LB599 advocates.
Two Nebraska entities participating in the Symposium testified in support of LB599 at the March 16, 2011 hearing for the bill – the page number where the testimony can be found on the transcript is noted next to the entity.
Nebraska Appleseed (hearing transcript p.29-31)11 On it’s “About Page”, Nebraska Appleseed states that it is a “non-partisan, public interest law firm”.
Building Brighter Futures (hearing hearing transcript p. 25-26)
Voices for Children (NE Appleseed passed out Voices for Children literature during hearing testimony)
National Association of Social Workers – Nebraska Chapter (NASW-NE)
Planned Parenthood of Nebraska
In addition, it’s disturbing to note the funding organizations and other co-sponsors:
United Nations Foundation
National Association of Social Workers (NASW)
United Nations Association of the United States of America & Nebraska Chapter
Symposium Speakers: (Hearing testifiers, in purple)
Kathy Bigsby Moore, Voices for Children
Kyle Carlson, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland
Sarah Ann Kotchian, Building Brighter Futures
Jennifer Carter and Becky Gould, Nebraska Appleseed
Robert Haller, United Nations Association of Nebraska
Valda Boyd, Center for Human Diversity
- Nebraska’s Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, many of whom are public employees, scheduled their annual conference in 2010 in conjunction with the UN Symposium on Maternal Health in Nebraska, handout materials from the conference, and an eyewitness confirmed, they were heavily solicited to return to their jobs and lobby legislators for Medicaid expansions exactly like LB599
- One World Clinic – the clinic which previously lost $500,000 in Medicaid funding – also lobbied for LB599′s passage – (hearing transcript pages 15-16)
Important questions about these disturbing advocates:
- How many – besides One World Clinic – receive any significant portion of their funds from GOVERNMENT? (Hint: more of them than you want to know)
- Is the world a bit off-kilter when government employees spend a day receiving indoctrination from taxpayer-funded lobbies?
Advocates claim the mantle of compassion, of care and concern for life, and all that tends to tug on the heartstrings, but are they really, at the end of the day, showing love for their fellow man?
“By not having big government crowd out civic society, the preferential option for the poor, which is one of the primary tenets of Catholic social teaching, means don’t keep people poor, don’t make people dependent on government so that they stay stuck at their station in life. Help people get out of poverty out onto a life of independence.” (see footnote 4)
Blank stop sign image from Wikimedia
UN Symposium on Maternal Health in Nebraska cover image snapped from documents available on GiN’s Scribd account, which were obtained through gracious assistance of the group Grass-roots Patriots of LaVista, Nebraska
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References & Notes