Nebraska Medicaid expansion petitions about to hit the streets

LINCOLN — Petitions aimed at expanding Medicaid coverage to more low-income Nebraskans will be hitting the streets soon.

The Insure the Good Life campaign announced Monday that the petition language has been finalized and signature-gathering is getting underway.

Amanda Gershon, a leader in the campaign, said volunteers will soon begin circulating petitions across the state. 

“The campaign has received lots of calls and emails from people asking when they could sign the petition and share it with friends,” she said. “It’s clear there is a ton of enthusiasm for Nebraska to become the next state to expand Medicaid.”

The petition drive seeks to put a Medicaid expansion before voters in November. The effort comes after six failed attempts to get an expansion proposal through the Nebraska Legislature. 

Gov. Pete Ricketts, and Gov. Dave Heineman before him, have adamantly opposed expansion, arguing that it is unaffordable and would favor able-bodied Nebraskans over those with disabilities. 

The petition proposal would cover an estimated 90,000 more low-income Nebraskans, as allowed under the federal Affordable Care Act.

The measure would add single adults and couples without minor children to Medicaid, as well as expand the program to cover parents and disabled people with incomes up to 138 percent of the poverty level.

Groups endorsing the Nebraska drive include several health care associations and advocacy groups.

Organizers have until July 5 to collect about 85,000 valid signatures to put the measure on the November ballot. Gerson said people wanting to sign or circulate petitions can sign up at www.insurethegoodlife.com.

So far, 32 states, including Iowa, have expanded their Medicaid programs. Voters in Maine last year approved a ballot measure to expand Medicaid in that state.

Utah and Idaho are in the midst of ballot initiatives, while a drive is underway in Montana to continue the expansion in that state past its 2019 sunset date.

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