Volunteers for the ballot initiative to place Medicaid expansion on the November ballot stand in front of some of the boxes filled with petitions during a press conference near the Secretary of State’s Office in July 2018. 

Voter approval of Medicaid expansion in Nebraska would have the greatest impact on food service workers, as expected, but also cover a wide range of working Nebraskans engaged in other job activities.

"There are thousands of hard-working Nebraskans who will finally be able to get health insurance" if Nebraska voters approve the Medicaid expansion initiative that gained access to the general election ballot after a successful petition drive, according to a spokesman for Families USA, a national leader in health care research.

"These are people working in diners and food courts, on construction job sites or in part-time jobs teaching children and caring for the elderly," Patrick Willard, the senior director of state and national strategic partnerships for Families USA, said Friday.

Here is a capsule view of occupations that would be most affected in terms of percentage of the total number of workers who would be benefited, according to the new study:

* Food service workers, 11 percent.

* Office and administrative support, 8 percent.

* Retail sales, 7 percent.

* Construction, 7 percent.

* Cleaning and maintenance, 6 percent.

Other industries noted in the report include transportation, service providers in child care and home health care and some Nebraskans in management positions.

"This report leaves no doubt the hard-working Nebraskans who are currently going without health coverage are working jobs that Nebraska residents rely on every day and support industries that are the foundation of the state's economy," Nebraska Appleseed Health Care Director James Goddard said.

"Expanding Medicaid is not only the pathway to a healthier future for working families, but is also critical to the health of our economy," he said.

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Initiative petitions seeking a vote on the issue in November were signed by more than 104,000 registered voters.

Supporters decided to take the issue to the people after the Legislature rejected Medicaid expansion proposals for the seventh year in a row.

The initiative proposal would extend coverage to an estimated 90,000 Nebraskans, most of whom are described as the working poor. They do not qualify for Medicaid now, but cannot afford to purchase health care coverage on their own.  

The vast majority of current Medicaid recipients are children and the elderly.

Meanwhile, opponents of the proposal to expand Medicaid are appealing a judge's dismissal of their lawsuit to keep the issue off the November ballot.

State Sen. Lydia Brasch and former state Sen. Mark Christensen filed notice last week that they plan to challenge the Lancaster County district judge's ruling.

Judge Darla Ideus rejected their arguments that the petition drive to place the issue before voters violated Nebraska law and the state constitution.

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

On Twitter @LJSDon.


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