Nelson: Report shows cost burden being placed on state government
August 18, 2010 -- Today, Nebraska's Senator Ben Nelson issued this statement after Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman released a study assessing the impact of the new health reform law's Medicaid costs to state government:
"While the intent of the report is to illustrate how much health care will cost state government, it actually illustrates how much of a burden health care costs are to Nebraska families. Without health reform, Nebraska families would be picking up the full costs of the uninsured rather than the State picking up 5% of the cost to insure them.
"This report doesn't make a case against health care reform. It makes the case for it.
"If health care costs to state government are a greater concern than the overall cost of health care to Nebraska consumers, then the state can save billions of dollars in both the state and federal budgets by opting out of Medicaid.
"I don't believe that's a solution to our health care problems. Nor do I believe the majority of Nebraskans will see it as a solution.
"Further, the Milliman, Inc. study released today is one of several on this issue. Earlier this year, the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured analyzed the Medicaid coverage provisions in the health reform law for all 50 states, and estimated the costs to Nebraska would be much lower.
"The Kaiser Commission study found that Nebraska would put 50,364 to 71,053 previously uninsured individuals onto Medicaid. With the federal government paying 95 percent of the cost, the cost to the state of Nebraska, from 2014 through 2019, was estimated at an additional $106 to $155 million. While enrollment in Medicaid would increase between 36.2 and 47.8 percent, the state's costs will rise by only 1.5 to 2.2 percent.
"The bottom line is: It's important to realize that the costs of health care are already being paid by Nebraskans through higher medical expenses because of uncompensated care, higher insurance payments, and uninsured Nebraskans that have been forced into bankruptcy in order to pay their medical expenses.
"The cost of doing nothing would have been much greater to Nebraskans.
"Certainly, government at all levels, including the state of Nebraska, has an obligation to find ways to reduce the cost of health care. This will be no easy task. But asking the federal government for more money to bail out state budgets does nothing to bring down the cost to consumers, or ease the burden on government to pay for services for low income families and elderly."
A copy of the Kaiser Commission study can be found at this link: www.bennelson.senate.gov/press/upload/kaisermedicaidstudy.pdf