My brother died last January after a 15-year battle with an asbestos-caused disease. While consulting on a power plant project, he ingested particles from turbo generators supplied by a major company. They could have used an alternate material, but that would’ve meant re-engineering, retooling and retesting — hurting profit. My brother turned philanthropist, using his settlement money to help others and support cancer research.
We are facing a similar choice between people and profit in Nebraska. We passed Initiative 427 because we care for those not getting coverage despite federal dollars going to a program to be used for this purpose. Nebraska would pay $1 for every $9 received from Washington to ensure people can access care.
Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services released its Medicaid expansion plan in April. The plan delays implementation until October 2020. It creates hoops to jump through for enrollees, resulting in people being boxed out of care they’ve waited six years for.
DHHS’ plan may be a misguided attempt to weaken the Affordable Care Act, a mechanism for redistributing wealth. In a state where we depend on redistribution of wealth for our economic success, this is a hard pill to swallow. Farm subsidies are a redistribution of wealth done for the greater good. If the ACA is a redistribution, then it, too, is done for the greater good.
The 90,000 Nebraskans unable to afford coverage are hardworking – many holding more than one job to make ends meet. Denying our neighbors care puts their health and our shared economy at risk. My brother’s life shouldn’t have been sacrificed to profit, nor should the health of hundreds of thousands of Nebraskans. Join me in urging Gov. Pete Ricketts to direct DHHS to fulfill voters’ mandate for Medicaid expansion — quickly and without placing impediments in front of hardworking Nebraskans.
Art Zygieblaum, Lincoln