Flawed research

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Dear Editor,

I felt the need to offer some analysis on the governor and his research institute's flawed assertions that formed the basis for Wednesday's Gazette editorial.

The Governor and the Platte Institute have seemed to have gotten it quite wrong with their characterization of the Arkansas private option Medicaid model. The Stephen Group, an independent research firm who studied the Arkansas model, concluded it has been a large success.

Hospitals' uncompensated care costs are down

* According to the Arkansas Hospital Association, during the first 6 months of the program, there was a 46.5% decrease in the number of uninsured hospital admissions and a 35.5% decrease in emergency department visits, translating into a 56.4% drop in uncompensated care costs for hospitals.

The state is saving money.

* Arkansas analyzed its expansion program costs and determined that state savings and revenue gains from the private option will at least offset state costs of the program at least through 2021.

* Also, a recent report by The Stephen Group, a conservative consultant hired by the Arkansas Legislature, estimates that ending Medicaid expansion in Arkansas would cost the State $438 million from 2017 to 2021.

Providers accepting Medicaid

* Nebraska is already caring for the people eligible for Medicaid expansion in our current health care system, just in inefficient and expensive ways. LB 1032 will help reorient our system towards primary and more efficient care. It's not as if this population is not interacting with our health care system already.

* Historically, Nebraska has had some of the highest numbers of providers accepting Medicaid patients. According to a Center for Disease Control, National Center for Health Statistics analysis in 2013, the percentage of office-based physicians in Nebraska that accepted new Medicaid patients was 96 percent -- the highest percentage in the country."

I understand that the Governor has a long history of politically opposing health coverage for the working poor, but this misinformation can easily be refuted with some research. The truth is this Governor, as well as his predecessor, has offered not one solution or one plan to find a way for 77,000 uninsured people to be able to see a doctor.

Meanwhile, 31 states have come up with plans to cover these people and bring their tax dollars home to work in their states' economies.

This is a serious issue that calls for factual analysis and serious discussion. Every year we don't do something about this, more Nebraskans continue to suffer with unmet medical needs.

It is quite surprising Nebraska's last two Governors have shown no interest in leading on this issue.

Here's another recent article out of Arkansas that offers more evidence of the success of the Arkansas private-option Medicaid plan.

If the Arkansas plan was such a disaster, would their Governor want to continue it and a Legislative panel unanimously vote to support his decision?


Jeff Sheldon

Communications Director

Nebraska Appleseed

Lincoln, Nebraska

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