Newscasts

PNS Daily Newscast - October 16, 2018 


President Trump tours hurricane-ravaged parts of Florida. Also on the Tuesday rundown: We examine whether the U.S. spending too much to guard confederate cemeteries; and the spotlight is on mental health during National Children’s Health Month.

Daily Newscasts

Nebraska Falls Behind Medicaid Expansion States in Uninsured Rates

Medicaid expansion has reduced incidents of uncompensated care, costs that hospitals incur when patients don't have insurance or the money to pay out of pocket. (Torange Biz)
Medicaid expansion has reduced incidents of uncompensated care, costs that hospitals incur when patients don't have insurance or the money to pay out of pocket. (Torange Biz)
September 26, 2018

LINCOLN, Neb. – States that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act saw uninsured rates for low-income adults drop more than three times more than states, including Nebraska, that opted not to expand coverage, according to a new report from Georgetown University.

Molly McCleery, deputy director of the Nebraska Appleseed Health Care Access Program, says 24 percent of Nebraska's rural residents do not have coverage, compared with 19 percent without coverage in urban areas.

"We've made gains as a state in insurance coverage in the last few years, but there are – as this report shows – a significant number of people who have been left out, and a lot of those people are living in our smaller towns and our smaller communities," she points out.

McCleery says expanded coverage strengthens health care systems for all residents by keeping hospital doors open in small towns where provider shortages are common.

She adds that not having to drive long distances for health care is especially important for pregnant women and people with chronic conditions.

Nebraska lawmakers have blocked proposals to expand Medicaid since 2013, citing concerns that the state could be on the hook for the cost if the Affordable Care Act implodes.

Study co-author Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, says strong health centers are critical for rural communities, not only because of the care they provide, but they're frequently the largest employers in small towns.

She adds that expanding coverage to more residents in rural areas already struggling with higher rates of unemployment and poverty makes economic sense.

"When there's a real option here on the table to take these Medicaid dollars,” she states, “really, it's a wiser use of taxpayer dollars to provide them with the primary preventive care that comes with having health insurance up front, so they don't get sicker and wind up in the emergency room."

Nebraskans will soon have an opportunity to vote on the issue. Signatures for Initiative 427 to expand Medicaid coverage were recently certified by Nebraska's secretary of state, and the measure has been cleared for the Nov. 6 ballot.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - NE