In recent days, the Lincoln-Journal Star has published what amounts to a one-two punch in the form of articles intended to push a bill expanding Nebraska’s Medicaid program to provide coverage for prenatal care.
Senator Kathy Campbell, a Republican, embarked on this crusade to expand Medicaid well over two years ago when some 1600 pregnant women were notified by Nebraska Medicaid authorities that the program would no longer pay for their prenatal care. About half of these women were illegal aliens. A portion of the women failed to comply with Medicaid rules, one of which requires a pregnant woman seeking Medicaid assistance to identify the father of her child to assist the state in holding him financially responsible for medical expenses and child support. Another portion of the women affected by the rule change were incarcerated. The remainder simply did not qualify for coverage because they didn’t meet the financial criteria — in other words, they either made too much money or failed to provide information about their income that is required to determine eligibility.
Senator Campbell withdrew her first bill, LB1110, when it became apparent it was so unpopular it had no hope of passing; but it was raised from the dead during the next legislative session under a new name, LB599. It went nowhere then, but supporters vowed to breathe life into it yet again. LB599 was carried over to this session and, SHAZAM, it received first round approval in the Unicameral with a vote of 30-16 in spite of the following facts:
- Nebraska already offers much more generous Medicaid coverage than required by the federal government
- Once Obamacare becomes fully armed and operational — IF the Supreme Court does not invalidate it — NEBRASKA WILL BE OBLIGATED TO MAINTAIN THE LEVELS OF COVERAGE IT HAS IN PLACE AT THAT TIME REGARDLESS OF THE STATE’S ABILITY TO PAY
- Nebraska has budgetary problems, primarily attributable to Senators who look for every opportunity to spend like drunken sailors
- The measure is opposed by a majority of Nebraskans
- Governor Heineman has promised to veto the measure
If those bullet points are accurate, why would our state senators — our mostly REPUBLICAN, SMALL-GOVERNMENT FAVORING, FISCALLY CONSERVATIVE state senators — vote in favor of such a bill? The two Journal-Star articles reveal each of the two arguments that have been used to advance this measure. Both are appeals to emotion rather than to reason, but our state senators have swallowed them, hook, line, and sinker like the big, bloviating, guppies that they are. (BY THE WAY, did I mention that 35 OF THE 49 NEBRASKA STATE SENATORS ARE REPUBLICAN, SMALL-GOVERNMENT FAVORING, FISCAL CONSERVATIVES?) I can hear the radio news update now: “Hearts are bleeding all over the legislative chamber, out into the hallways of the Capitol, and flooding the intersection of 14th and K . Story at eleven.”
On Sunday, the Journal-Star published an opinion piece authored by representatives of the Catholic Conference and the Bishops Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities. The linchpin of their argument in support of LB599 was that denying FREE prenatal care would lead to an uptick in abortions. Folks, we’ve heard this song before. As we here at GiN have consistently pointed out:
- ABORTIONS COST MORE THAN PRENATAL CARE. Someone who can’t afford prenatal care will be hard-pressed to come up with the lump sum required to obtain an abortion.
- THE UPTICK IN ABORTIONS PREDICTED TO OCCUR WHEN THE FEDS REQUIRED NEBRASKA TO DISCONTINUE PAYING FOR PRENATAL CARE DID NOT MATERIALIZE. In fact, the rate of abortions in the State fell by 3.4%.
I would also respectfully reiterate for the benefit of the Catholic Conference and the Catholic Bishops something I wrote almost two years ago:
“As a Christian, I agree we have a responsibility to care for those less fortunate. However, I believe this coalition of churches is misguided in seeking a government solution. Their educational efforts within their congregations would more accurately reflect Biblical principles if they explained and encouraged private charitable efforts as opposed to state-sponsored social welfare programs.”
I ask you, how comfortable are you right now with that government “solution” for health care reform that you supported in 2010? How has that been working out for the Catholic Church recently?
The second of the articles I referred to above was published in Wednesday’s, April 4th, edition of the Journal-Star. Written by Kevin O’Hanlon, it reports on LB599’s passage on initial reading and references comments by none other than Senator Kathy Campbell. (At the risk of repeating myself, Senator Campbell is the REPUBLICAN sponsor of LB599 who <31 The characters “<3” are an internet symbol for “hearts”, meaning “love”. So Senator Campbell loves new ...continue new social welfare programs even though she can’t seem to remember those catchy acronyms used to name them).2At a hearing before the Health and Human Services Committee during an exchange between Senator Campbell and the Director of the Division of Medicaid ...continue According to Senator Campbell:
“the lack of prenatal care for low-income pregnant women can lead to a host of health issues for newborn babies, including increased risk of birth defects, low birth weight and slowed mental development. That can cost the state more in the long run . . .because those children will be U.S. citizens if they are born here.”
Is it me, or does anyone else notice the not-so-subtle bigotry in the assumption behind this statement? Once a child is born of a “low-income” woman, Senator Campbell and her posse assume the woman and her progeny will remain in poverty and, therefore, a drain upon society for the remainder of the child’s life. Ever heard of the “soft bigotry of low expectations”? Who’s to say that this woman won’t succeed in pulling herself and her family up from their humble beginnings to live a life not dependent in any way upon government aid? Stranger things have happened.
As for Senator Campbell’s larger point, I think we can agree that everyone would prefer all children be born healthy and remain so. Where Senator Campbell and I differ comes down to the answer to this question: At whose expense? She clearly prefers that needy children’s health care be paid for, not out of her own pocket via contributions to private charitable efforts, but with other people’s money.
In contrast, I would first look to the parents to provide for their own offspring. It is particularly appropriate, in this age of sex education and readily-available birth control (a great deal of it provided at public expense, I might add), to question why a woman and/or her significant other would “plan” parenthood when they cannot afford the cost of prenatal care or, as it seems is the case in Nebraska, the cost of delivering the child. Since 2008, over a THIRD of the births that occur in Nebraska3 In prior articles, we’ve cited to a Lincoln Journal Star article which reported that 47% of the births in Nebraska are paid for by Medicaid. ...continue are paid for by Medicaid even though only 14% of the State’s population are Medicaid beneficiaries. I ask you, what’s wrong with that picture? Clearly, the least fortunate among us are reproducing at a higher rate than those of us who are more financially stable. If a child’s parents cannot afford these initial investments, how can they hope to provide the funds necessary to care for the child when they bring him or her home? Short answer: They can’t. Government welfare programs simply remove the necessity of considering the financial factor in this kind of family “planning”.
Suppose Senator Campbell is correct in her assumption that such children will remain dependent upon the State for their health care. Any “savings” to the public fisc that result from government-funded prenatal care disappear when one considers the total cost incurred by the public in raising each of those children to majority once they are delivered. Subsidize a behavior and you get more of it. 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. The prospective parents might then consider taking the necessary steps to delay conception until such time as they can truly afford to support themselves as well as a child.
Last, but not least, passing this bill is the functional equivalent of carpeting our nation’s borders with “Nebraska” welcome mats emblazoned with the words, “Y’all come!”. There’s a reason Nebraska comes in at number eight among the top ten states with the fastest growing immigrant populations, many of them here illegally. Again, subsidize something, and you get more of it.
Clearly, this is a bad bill based on bad policy which will make an even worse law. The Unicameral should put this matter to rest for once and for all.
Email subscribers, click HERE to watch the video.
There have been a number of votes on this bill, including on a number of amendments, many of which were procedural maneuvers. Note that two Senators did attempt amendments that would have altered or removed language which provide coverage for illegal immigrants (although one of those amendments would have the new law take effect SOONER.)
The roll call vote listed here is for vote number of two out of three before the bill is sent to the Governor’s desk. The third and final vote is scheduled for next Tuesday. If you decide to make contact, as always, we recommend you contact YOUR OWN SENATOR, noting that you are a constituent.
In addition, contacting the Governor’s office is recommended. He has said he will veto this bill, but, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to ensure his resolve remains FIRM.
Voting in the affirmative, 29:
Voting in the negative, 16:
Present and not voting, 2:
Excused and not voting, 2:
LINKS TO CONTACT INFORMATION:
Governor Dave Heineman
Website (includes Email contact form)
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 94848
Lincoln, NE 68509-4848
Office of the Governor
4500 Avenue I
P.O. Box 1500
Scottsbluff, NE 69363-1500
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Notes & References [ + ]
|1.||↑||The characters “<3” are an internet symbol for “hearts”, meaning “love”. So Senator Campbell loves new welfare programs.|
|2.||↑||At a hearing before the Health and Human Services Committee during an exchange between Senator Campbell and the Director of the Division of Medicaid and Long Term Care for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, Senator Campbell could not recall the name of the PACE program, calling it the PATH program. She was corrected by the Director and responded to the Director’s correction with the statement, “PACE, why can I — I can never get that correct. . . . I mean, I have to say, I’m really excited by that program.”|
|3.||↑||In prior articles, we’ve cited to a Lincoln Journal Star article which reported that 47% of the births in Nebraska are paid for by Medicaid. We now realize that there is reason to question that information and have not as yet been able to verify the correct figures, although it is clear based on our examination of the data reported by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services that over a third of the births in the state are paid for by Medicaid. The data for 2010 can be seen HERE, the source cited is the NEDHHS. Currently questionable data, includes percentages reported by the Kaiser Family Foundation (surprise!), such as those reported HERE..|