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Medicaid petition

Randy Moody leads a group of supporters, volunteers and members of the Medicaid expansion ballot initiative committee as they deliver boxes of signed petitions to a conference room near the Nebraska Secretary of State’s office in July.

Lancaster County District Court Judge Darla Ideus on Tuesday dismissed a challenge to the Medicaid expansion petition initiative, allowing the initiative to be placed on the November ballot.

The lawsuit was brought by former state Sen. Mark Christensen and Sen. Lydia Brasch. They alleged the initiative was an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority, contained more than one subject, which the state Constitution prohibits, and that it failed to identify Nebraska Appleseed as a sworn sponsor.

Last week, Secretary of State John Gale confirmed that enough signatures were gathered by petition circulators to put the question of whether to expand Medicaid to about 90,000 uninsured adult Nebraskans on the Nov. 6 ballot. 

At least 84,269 valid signatures were required to add the petition question to the 2018 general election ballot, and 104,477 were valid and certified, he said. That's a 74 percent acceptance rate. 

“This is a great day for democracy and for Nebraskans," said Meg Mandy, campaign manager for Insure the Good Life. "We are pleased to hear from the court that Nebraska voters will have the opportunity to decide to lower property taxes and expand Medicaid to the 90,000 Nebraskans who work at jobs that don’t come with health insurance."

Many of those uninsured Nebraskans earn less than $17,000 a year, she said.

The campaign has said Medicaid expansion will create and sustain 10,000 new jobs, reduce medical bankruptcies, bring $1.1 billion of Nebraskans’ tax dollars back from Washington, D.C., and produce savings by reducing uncompensated care for those who lack health coverage.

Ninety percent of Medicaid funding would come in the form of a federal match, with the state paying 10 percent of the costs, according to the evolving Medicaid expansion funding formula that would be in place by the time the new program would begin in Nebraska.

The petition committee, Insure the Good Life, is made up of local health care stakeholders, organizations, and other Nebraskans. Members of the ballot committee are: Amanda Gershon, Lincoln; former Lincoln Sen. Kathy Campbell; and Dr. Rowen Zetterman of Omaha.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7228 or jyoung@journalstar.com

On Twitter @LJSLegislature.

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State government reporter

JoAnne Young covers state government, including the Legislature and state agencies, and the people they serve.

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