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Medicaid expansion petition drive begins
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Medicaid expansion petition drive begins

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The initiative petition drive to expand Medicaid coverage to an estimated 90,000 Nebraskans, most of whom described as the working poor, is underway.

Supporters will need to gather approximately 85,000 signatures statewide by July 6 in order to place the initiative on the November general election ballot for a decision by the voters.

The high-profile initiative joins a billion dollar property tax reduction proposal as ballot issues that could impact November voter turnout. The property tax initiative drive kicked off in mid-February.

The Insure the Good Life petition campaign for Medicaid expansion has established a website (www.insurethegoodlife.com) for Nebraskans to contact if they wish to sign or circulate a petition.

"The campaign has received lots of calls and email from people asking when they could sign the petition and share it with friends," Amanda Gershon, a member of the initiative committee, said Monday.

"It's clear there is a ton of enthusiasm for Nebraska to become the next state to expand Medicaid."

Thirty-two other states, along with the District of Columbia, have done so, according to a news release from Nebraska Appleseed.

Medicaid expansion "provide(s) a path to health coverage for hard-working people with low incomes while bringing federal tax dollars into the state to boost local economies," Nebraska Appleseed stated.

Supporters of expanded Medicaid decided to take the issue to a vote of the people after six years of unsuccessful attempts to gain legislative approval for Medicaid expansion that would cover Nebraskans who do not qualify for coverage under the current Medicaid program and cannot afford to acquire health care insurance.

This year's legislative effort came in the form of a proposed constitutional amendment (LR281CA) introduced by Sen. Adam Morfeld of Lincoln. His proposal has been bottled up in committee.

Supporters say Medicaid expansion could prevent more than 500 unnecessary deaths per year because of undiagnosed or untreated health conditions and reduce costs for Nebraskans with private health care coverage who now help pay for uncompensated care costs through their insurance premiums.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or dwalton@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSDon.

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