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GOP lawmakers part ways with Nebraska governor over Medicaid

By   /   January 23, 2013  /   20 Comments

By Deena Winter | Nebraska Watchdog

DIVIDED: Republican lawmakers are splitting with the governor on an issue again: Expanding Medicaid.

LINCOLN — State Sen. Kathy Campbell wants to expand Medicaid as prescribed  by the Affordable Care Act, and she has some powerful backers.

Campbell is a Republican, and so was one of the lawmakers standing with her on Wednesday — Omaha Sen. Bob Krist.

Gov. Dave Heineman has opposed the move loudly.

The Republicans’ public support and leadership on an issue is yet another indication of Republican lawmakers’ willingness to part ways with the Republican governor.

Heineman repeatedly, and vehemently, has said he opposes expanding Medicaid because he doesn’t believe the federal government will follow through with the funding it has promised.

But GOP lawmakers have shown increasing independence from the governor, even though they control the one-house Legislature. Last session, they helped override Heineman’s vetoes of bills allowing cities to increase their sales-tax rates and a bill providing prenatal coverage to illegal immigrants.

Now, Democratic Sen. Jeremy Nordquist has predicted he can cobble together enough support to override the governor on the health care issue, too.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that states can opt in or out of the provision expanding Medicaid to those who earn up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level — or $26,344 for a family of three. Campbell said 20 percent of Nebraskans would qualify for the expanded health insurance program.

The feds will cover all the costs from 2014 to 2016, after which federal support drops to 90 percent. However, Heineman said he doubts that commitment, pointing to broken promises on funding things such as special education.

Last week, the governor said expanding Medicaid would cost “hundreds of millions of dollars” that should be going to public schools,  colleges and universities.

Heineman has stood firm while other Republican governors have come around to the idea. Krist noted that Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez all have decided to expand Medicaid.

Krist said the time has passed to debate the merits of ObamaCare and now “the only debate left is whether leadership allows us to keep our money or bring money back to care for Nebraskans.”

Nordquist said Nebraskans already pay for uninsured people through higher premiums paid to cover health care given in emergency rooms and through property taxes that fund county medical assistance programs.

“Make no mistake, we already pay for the coverage of the uninsured,” he said.

Campbell pointed out that when Medicaid was launched in 1965, it was optional. Only about half the states joined the program its first year, but eventually all 50 states signed up.

“Can we afford to leave this many tax dollars on the table at the federal level?” Krist asked. “This is a human question. (The) bottom line for me is that this is the right thing to do for our people.”

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.

  • Sens Kathy Campbell and Bob Krist Republicans? Republican controlled house? Please. Anyone who has followed the legislation and votes of same would know they are Republicans in name only and for the support GOP gives. Republicans do not control the Unicameral because they allowed most of the Chairman seats of Committees to go unopposed. Tell me again who controls the Unicameral?….The Democrats….year after year after year. One would think the Republicans would organize and strategize. Nay, not so.

  • It would be better for the state if our guv thought with his brain and not his ass.

  • Kevin

    If anything, Medicaid needs to be scaled back. Make those who intentionally choose to sit on their duff and not work get off if it and join the workforce.

  • Dave Fall

    Ms. Smith you are the reason for the argument to keep the Legislature non-partisan. I have known Kathy for 25 years and even when we have disagreed I have always known she votes for what she believes is in the peoples best interest. In this case she is correct so I say Thank you Kathy.

  • Guest

    Kevin, the idea that medicaid is health care for the lazy is factually inaccurate. This isn’t an opinion, it’s the statistical reality. Many on medicaid have jobs, but live in poverty because they aren’t paid enough to escape poverty. The notion that the working poor (some of whom have two jobs) and the disabled are lazy is silly. Are you a silly person?

    The federal government is giving Nebraska the opportunity to keep more of its citizens taxes, in the form of medicaid funding. If we deny that, we still pay the taxes – only we’re funding other states’ medicaid expansions, including states with Republican governors who can do math. Refusing the medicaid money offered to us is a reckless blow against fiscal responsibility in our state government.

  • Guest

    See above

  • More sucking from the government tit.

  • Kevin

    You are speaking of those who use medicaid as a supplement to their income. I am speaking of the lazy who do not work at all. There is a difference.

  • And I’m pointing out that there are, in reality, very few adult Nebraskans who are unemployed by choice, and the myth that this presents a significant portion of people on medicaid is factually, provably, statistically false.

    I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but the federal government is offering to give back some of our tax revenue in the form of medicaid funding. If we don’t take the funding, we STILL pay for the program, only we pay for other states without getting the benefits. Other GOP governors who fought Obamacare are still taking medicaid dollars – our medicaid dollars – because it’s the fiscally responsible thing to do. Even Tea Party darling Jan Brewer agrees that getting to keep your tax dollars for your own citizens is too good an opportunity to pass up. Donating our tax dollars for other states to fund their medicare, while refusing the funding ourselves, isn’t conservative. It’s just reckless and dumb.

  • Kevin

    If we pay for it either way, how is it a benefit to those who do not use it? I am more for people becoming more self sufficient. Whether it is medicaid, or otherwise, there is abuse of the system. People should not be buying steak with an EBT card then getting into a $30,000 SUV parked in the handicapped stall in front of the supermarket while yammering on a smart phone on their trek through the store.

  • well stated

  • The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. I’m sure Ms. Campbell thinks what she’s doing is in the people’s best interests. That doesn’t make it right.

    She can, of course, register for whatever party she wants. In Nebraska, the word ‘Republican’ has no meaning.

  • Watching_From_Lincoln

    Susan, I am a Republican, a REAL Republican. You, on the other hand, are just a Neo-Fascist who, like all the other so-called Modern Republicans that have crawled out from under a rock the past thirty years, has stolen the Republican label and perverted it in an effort to hide the truly repulsive, anti-democratic, racist, elitist, hateful creatures that you really are. Good health is a right, NOT a privilege. Having a healthy, able to work, work force is an economic advantage, and saves businesses LOTS of money in the long run in NOT having lost days of productivity due to either worker illness or illness of the worker’s children that force the worker to stay home. People who have the mental capability to see the Big Picture realize that. All the others only have the ability to see the underside of the rock they crawled out from under.

  • Watching_From_Lincoln

    Pull your cranium out of your rectal cavity, Kevin. This state has an unemployment rate under 4%. Where are these tens of thousands of “the lazy who do not work at all” you speak of? The only “lazy” I can find are the mentally lazy like you who resort to stereotyped generalities to hide your ignorance of reality and fact. Must be that constant drone in your numbed brain of Hannity, Limbaugh, Beck, et al 24/7/365

  • Watching_From_Lincoln

    When did you stop taking your meds, and do the people at the institution know you’re able to access a computer?

  • Watching_From_Lincoln

    So who are you waiting for at the end of the road, Gerard?

  • Watching_From_Lincoln

    Once again, the Koch sucker ideological moron, Herr Fuhrer for a Decade HeineyMan, is throwing another temper tantrum because his troops won’t goose step in perfect unison at his immoral commands. This latest puff-chested tirade coming from the King of Hypocrites HeineyMan, who CONVENIENTLY neglects to let his Party Puppets remember that he, like most of the career Republican Politicians, have been on Publicly supported Health Care for most of their adult lives.

    In HeineyMan’s case, from the age of eighteen when he entered the USMA until he separated from service, Herr Fuhrer HeineyMan had totally free, no out of pocket costs, Government (tax payer) provided Universal Single Payer Health Care. Since entering Political Office nearly two decades ago, he has gorged at the trough of a Government Health Care Plan subsidized by the tax payers, and any out of pocket costs paid for by his tax payer funded salary. Like his Tea Party Hypocrite brethren, he can’t see his own hypocrisy because of his severe case of crainio-rectal disease that is so contagious among the Tea Party/Neo-Fascist crowd.

  • Kevin

    You do realize that unemployment % numbers do not include those who are not looking for work, right?

  • ProgressiveOasis

    Wanking_From_Lincongrad may be a “registered” Republican but he’s no fiscal conservative given his neo-socialist big government nanny state comments. Demonizing people who disagree with him is straight out of the “Rules for Radicals” that is his public policy bible. Here’s a couple of questions for you “Wanker”: (1) Why does the US see a huge number of “health care tourists” each year escaping from your beloved Universal Health Care dictatorships elsewhere to seek and pay for care here?; and (2) Where does the provision of health care services by privately funded charitable groups fit into your twisted view of “good health is a right” instead of using the police power of the state to seize the fruits of others labor to pay for someone else’s “good health”? When the “fruits” producers decide they aren’t going to play anymore, then what are you proposing to do???

  • ProgressiveOasis

    Wanker_From_Lincoln the same end that awaits you…death and then the government taking an undeserved and unearned bite from your life’s work on the way to the grave.