Medicaid Bill to Carry into Next Session
In the 2013 legislative session, Nebraska's lawmakers passed more than 200 bills, both large and small; set aside dollars for a new Central Nebraska Veterans Home; and increased funding for early childhood education.
Now as they head home, lawmakers know they'll return with some unfinished business.
Lawmakers are calling Medicaid expansion its polarizing issue, but have plans to reach a solution in the next session. "They'll find a middle ground that they will reach a compromise on," shared Sen. Galen Hadley of Kearney.
Lawmakers say they didn't have enough resources in this session to reach a compromise on either the Medicaid expansion or tax reform for the state, as they say both issues warrant a more in depth look. Sen. Mike Gloor of Grand Island said, "It's reasonable to think that's more than we can ride off in one session."
Lawmakers who want to expand Medicaid coverage to tens of thousands of low-income adults will press the Medicaid bill to the next session. However, a study on alternatives could make lawmakers more comfortable in getting on board.
One of the concerns brought up about the plan to increase coverage is that the state doesn't have enough resources to meet the needs of more Medicaid patients. Senator Gloor said he's not certain that the state has enough resources such as doctors and facilities to meet the needs of a major expansion.
"I continue to introduce legislation's that will improve the chances that we'll be able to add people to Medicaid roles," Gloor said. "As far as it goes, my objections to Medicaid expansion was -- It's a huge jump all at once into a system that I think the state of Nebraska was ill prepared to take on that large number of new enrollees."
Senator Annette Dubas of Fullerton said having more information at their disposal and later making the decision will be critical. "Making sure we see what's going on in other states -- Are there other options besides just a straight out Medicaid expansion? What does it mean if we do or don't do that?"
Another major study lawmakers will look into in the next session is the state's water resources.
The Department of Natural Resources will look into the water resources programs to figure the funding needed to meet the long term state wide goals of water sustainability.