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NE: Lawmakers look at cost of expanding Medicaid

By   /   November 27, 2012  /   5 Comments

By Deena Winter | Nebraska Watchdog

Updated Nov. 28

LINCOLN – A panel of state lawmakers was told Tuesday that expanding Medicaid as part of President Obama’s health care overhaul would cost Nebraska $123 million in the first seven years.

PRICE TO PAY: Expanding Medicaid would cost Nebraska $123 million during the first seven years, according to a new analysis by the Legislative Fiscal Office. Other studies have come up with wildly varying figures.

No representatives of Gov. Dave Heineman’s administration attended the joint hearing by the Appropriations and Health and Human Services committees on the fiscal impacts of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but the Legislature’s fiscal office released its own cost estimates.

Tom Bergquist, deputy director of the Legislative Fiscal Office, said he did not factor in savings due to fewer cases of uncompensated care, as more Nebraskans would be insured.

“These numbers will float quite a bit,” he said, depending on the projected participation rate and cost per participant.

Indeed, a consultant hired by the state Department of Health and Human Services estimated the cost of expanding Medicaid at $465 million to $617 million during the first seven years, while the Kaiser Foundation estimated the cost at $106 million to $155 million. The Center for Health Policy at the University of Nebraska Medical Center pegged the cost at $140 million to $168 million.

Bruce Rieker, vice president of advocacy for the Nebraska Hospital Association, cited a report released Monday by the Kaiser Family Foundation estimating that expanding Medicaid would increase Nebraska’s Medicaid spending a net 1.1 percent from 2013 to 2022.

Expanding Medicaid would cost Nebraska $250 million during the first six years, but the savings in uncompensated care would be $97 million, according to the Kaiser report.

Omaha Sen. Jeremy Nordquist cited a University of Michigan study that estimated $903 million in savings over 10 years due to things such as reduced health care costs for prisoners if Medicaid is expanded. The University of Maryland estimated $670 million in savings, and Arkansas estimated $372 million in savings in the first eight years of expanded Medicaid, Nordquist said.

Heineman has steadfastly opposed expanding Medicaid, saying he doesn’t trust the federal government will deliver on promises to cover most of the costs. However, Nordquist has indicated he will introduce legislation next session to expand Medicaid.

Contact Deena Winter at [email protected].

Editor’s note: to subscribe to News Updates from Nebraska Watchdog at no cost, click here.


Deena formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.

  • Jeremy Nordquist: tireless in pursuit of new ways to spend Nebraskan’s tax-dollars.

  • Kevin

    Medicaid needs to be drastically cut. There are too many people who refuse to work because the government handout is easier.

  • hayseed

    Cite some credible sources to back up your statement. It seems most of these blogs make Nebraskans look selfish and greedy.

  • Lannie

    to Use my ss For a 10,000.00 Ded. So no I do not think It needs To be Expanded Nothing is free in the USA as far as health Ins.

  • The problem is most of these people work, but off the books for cash, so they don’t report their total income, that’s how they qualify for all these free government programs…otherwise, how do you think they can have big screen TV’s, iphones, drive Mercedes, buy Starbucks coffee & luxury food with food stamps; food that the average working person can’t afford, food that I can’t afford… I can’t afford to buy Starbucks coffe but I have to pay for someone else’s so they don’t feel discriminated, give me a break…if they were so poor & had nothing to eat they wouldn’t be buying junk food & be so overweight, because food stamps alone would not sustain them to that point… therefore they’re abusing the food stamp program When they go to a bakery with food stamps they buy expensive birthday cakes, not bread or rolls. I know plenty of these people, but the government doesn’t care about fraud, so more & more people do it…why do you think there is 50 million people on food stamps now? It’s like that with every free entitlement program…I’m not referring to Social Security or Medicare if you paid into them…because I know people that never paid into them & are receiving them, they know how to abuse the system. And of course our veterans give their lives for all of us, so their benefits shouldn’t be even considered entitlements, but repayment for their heroism…because everyone knows those”free loaders” aren’t going to serve our country & protect our freedom…if we will have any freedom left after “the holy one” Obama finishes with us!!!