Editorial

Voters must be ready to live with Medicaid expansion

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Former State Sen. Mark Christensen of Imperial joined in a lawsuit to block a statewide vote on expanding Medicaid to an additional 90,000 residents in Nebraska.

Along with State Sen. Lydia Brasch of Bancroft, Christensen technically argues that the proposal violates the Nebraska Constitution by including more than one subject, and violates other rules.

More telling are Christensenís comments that he worries the expansion would force cuts to services already offered to other Medicaid recipients, his disabled son among them.

The proposal has more than 133,000 signatures, which are being evaluated by Secretary of State John Galeís office to see whether the petition qualifies for a vote.

If approved by the voters, Medicaid would be expanded to make people ages 19 to 64 eligible if they had incomes of 138 percent of the federal poverty designation or below. Thatís about $16,750 for a single person or about $34,600 for a family of four.

The lawsuit is in the Lancaster County District Court, where a judge has promised to deliver a ruling as quickly as possible.

Should the measure be approved by voters, it will send back to the drawing board a state budget balanced through a long and difficult conventional political process. Itís only natural that lawmakers are reluctant to scrap years of hard-won consensus and compromise.

Tax increases and, yes, cuts in services are likely to result from implementation of the votersí will when it comes time for Medicaid to be expanded.

For their part, voters should be willing to live with the consequences when they make their choice this November.

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