Legislature Poised for Health Care Fight


They've posed for iPhone photos with their kids and taken the oath of office. But now, the formalities of a new legislative session are over.

Debate will be anything by child's play, with issues like health care reform on the table.

Sen. Mike Gloor of Grand Island said, "With Affordable Care Act, my career in health care should make it easier to get involved in making decisions and talking about ways to implement or if we want to implement sections of the Affordable Care Act."

Governor Dave Heineman already said no to one key provision of so-called "ObamaCare."

He recently said, "It was $470 million more expensive to do a state exchange so at the end of the day, we said we're going to move forward in that regard, let the federal government set up a federal exchange. In essence they have total control anyway."

But is the governor's decision the last word?

"No, it's not the end of conversation because he made the decision before the legislature convened so now the legislature's convened we can revisit that issue, talk about it a little bit," Gloor said.

One senator wants elected officials, including the governor, to pay for their own insurance.

Sen. Jeremy Nordquist said he wants to make a point about the 200,000 Nebraskans without insurance.

He said, "We know tens of thousands of Nebraskans are denies coverage because of preexisting conditions. Many small businesses can't afford to provide health care to their workers because of challenges. And these are all big problems we need to fix and unfortunately a number of elected officials don't understand and don't see first-hand those challenges."

Others want to expand Medicaid, which follows last year's heated debate over prenatal care.

During the last session, senators overrode the governor, after he objected to coverage for illegal immigrants.

Heineman has spoken against the Affordable Care Act, but lawmakers say they will also be heard.

Gloor for one said he agrees with Heineman on many points. But said it still deserves a full debate at the Capitol.

He said, "We are the representative arm of government so it's appropriate for us to sit down and talk through issues also."

Gloor is the new chair of the insurance committee. He said he will rely on his former career as CEO of St. Francis Medical Center to guide the legislature through these issues.