Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series, see the bottom for a complete list.
The Unicameral’s Health and Human Services Committee will hold a hearing tomorrow, February 28th, on LB577, the bill to expand the state’s Medicaid program, and on LB578, a companion bill to create a funding mechanism for expansion. It’s scheduled to occur at 1:30 p.m. at the State Capitol Building in Room 1510.
I’ve been writing a series of articles — 10 to date — explaining why expanding Nebraska’s Medicaid program is an extremely bad idea. We’re being sold a bill of goods by our state senators here, folks, and it’s time to literally call them on it. I recommend you do one or more of the following things:
FIRST: Attend the hearing if you possibly can. The senators are usually impressed by numbers, especially if those numbers are large and are opposed to what they’re considering doing. To have the greatest impact, you should come prepared to comment in opposition to the bill. But, if you’re uncomfortable speaking publicly, you could always write down what you would like to say and hand it in to the Committee during the time reserved for comment by those opposed to the bill. I’m including a list of reasons below, distilled from the articles I’ve published here at the site over the last few weeks. Feel free to use one or more of them as “talking points.”
I plan to attend the hearing. If you have written comments you would like me to deliver for you, I would be happy to do so. Use the general contact form available here at the GiN website. Please note, though, that I will not deliver anonymous commentary. You must provide your name and contact information with your comment.
SECOND: If you can’t attend the hearing, at least make the phones ring off the wall in the offices of the senators that make up the Health and Human Services Committee. Tell them you oppose expanding Medicaid in Nebraska. If you cannot call their offices, then fill their email in-boxes with messages urging them to oppose expansion.. You don’t HAVE to give a reason for your opinion, but, as I said above, I’m including a list of reasons below that you can pick and choose from to use as “talking points.”
CONTACT INFORMATION FOR HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES COMMITTEE MEMBERS:
Sen. Kathy Campbell, Chairperson (District 25)
Phone: (402) 471-2731
Sen. Tanya Cook (District 13)
Phone: (402) 471-2727
Sen. Sue Crawford (District 45)
Phone: (402) 471-2615
Sen. Mike Gloor (District 35)
Phone: (402) 471-2617
Sen. Sara Howard (District 09)
Phone: (402) 471-2723
Sen. Bob Krist (District 10)
Phone: (402) 471-2718
Sen. Dan Watermeier (District 01)
Phone: (402) 471-2733
TALKING POINTS TO USE IN OPPOSING LB577:
- Nebraska already has a very generous Medicaid program. It has been rated second in the country, coming in just behind the State of Massachusetts, in terms of the comprehensive services and the optional populations the state senators have already chosen to cover. In fact, almost 70% of the money spent for Medicaid in Nebraska each year is expended to pay for optional services and/or optional populations the Unicameral has voted to provide over and above what’s required under the federal Medicaid law.
- Medicaid has a history of growth that has out-stripped all ability to predict and control. When Medicaid was created in 1965, proponents confidently predicted the program would cost only $238 million. It ended up costing $1.3 billion that year. The cost of the program continues to grow at a faster rate in most years than either private health care spending or Medicare.
- Those federal tax dollars that are promised to support the expansion in the short term are not “free.” The federal government must first take those tax dollars from Nebraskans and others before it sends them back to Nebraska to pay for Medicaid expansion here. Because the federal government incurs administrative expenses in the process of collecting those taxes, bundling the money, and sending it back to us, it must take MORE THAN the contemplated $3.5 billion from us in order to cover its commitment. To the extent that citizens of other states will be tapped to pay for Medicaid expansion in Nebraska, this is nothing more or less than another “Cornhusker Kickback.”
- If those dollars — the $3.5 billion PLUS the administrative fees incurred by the feds that were skimmed off the top — had been left with the Nebraskans that earned them in the first place, those earners would have engaged in economic activity beneficial to themselves and to the Nebraska economy.
- Such economic activity would have had, at least, an equal impact on the state’s economy. The argument can, in fact, be made that the economic impact would have been greater, because spending and investment choices would have been made by individual Nebraskans in the private sector rather than by the government in the public sector and related welfare state bureaucracy.
- Almost 40 percent of Nebraska’s budget is already paid for from federal funds, and this doesn’t include spending for the University and state college systems. There is a direct relationship between what you, as Nebraska state senators, choose to spend and our annual federal deficits and our over $16 trillion national debt.
- The single biggest driver of the rising cost of uncompensated care at Nebraska’s hospitals is Medicaid, not the uninsured. Studies consistently show that the group most likely to present at emergency rooms for routine care are Medicaid patients. They are 2.5 times more likely to use emergency rooms for routine care than the uninsured.
- Runaway private insurance costs are not caused by cost shifts from the uninsured poor. That shift has always existed, as a bad debt, and has remained fairly constant. Excessive medical cost inflation is caused by the relatively new and growing shifts from Medicare and Medicaid. Politicians have promised more than they can pay for with taxes. So they force private insurers to pick up the tab.
- Nebraska has a shortage of primary care physicians and many such physicians are reluctant to accept new Medicaid patients, so where will these newly-qualified Medicaid recipients find care? Answer: In emergency rooms.
- Medicaid is one of the means-tested welfare programs that disincentivizes work, savings, and marriage. The result? Thirty-five percent (35%) of the nation’s children live with a single-parent, most of whom are women. Among minorities, the percentage is higher than among whites. Almost seventy percent (70%) of black children, fifty percent (50%) of American Indian children, and forty percent (40%) of Hispanic or Latino children live in single-parent, mostly female-headed households. This system is destroying families, devastating children, and perpetuating poverty.
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: