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Medicaid expansion

In this Oct. 16 photo, yard signs are stacked outside a public hearing in Lincoln for Initiative 427, which would expand Medicaid.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services chose in April to postpone the implementation of Medicaid expansion until Oct. 1, 2020. Adding insult to injury, DHHS’s state Medicaid director, Dr. Matthew Van Patton, proposed a complex tiered benefit plan that forces eligible Nebraskans to fulfill vague requirements to receive full Medicaid coverage.

Nebraskans did not vote for lawmakers to take two years to reinvent the wheel on Medicaid expansion. Thirty-four other states like Iowa, Minnesota and North Dakota, have been able to implement Medicaid expansion in a sustainable and expedient manner.

Waiting two years to “test out” a Medicaid program that unnecessarily segregates eligible recipients goes against the intent of Nebraska voters and puts the health of the 90,000 Nebraskans that would be impacted by this expansion at risk.

Furthermore, the tiered structure proposed violates voter intent and the rule of law. The statute approved by Nebraska voters states that “no greater or additional burdens or restrictions on eligibility, enrollment, benefits, or access to health care services shall be imposed” on eligible Nebraskans.

DHHS needs to listen to the Nebraska electorate and implement an expedient expansion of the Medicaid program. Anything short of that negates voter intent and puts lives at risk.

José Lemus, Lincoln

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