Medicaid expansion issue ready to go to voters in November

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The United States isn’t a pure democracy, but is instead a republic or representative democracy, depending on whom you ask.

Most laws are created through debate and compromise by leaders elected to do just that.

In other cases, the decision is made directly by the people — such as the recent execution of Carey Dean Moore, which was conducted after Nebraska voters overturned a decision by the Unicameral to eliminate capital punishment in the state.

The voters will have another chance to get directly involved in legislation this November, it a way possibly less profound but with much wider impact, the expansion of Medicaid.

Lancaster County District Court Judge Darla Ideus on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit by a Southwest Nebraska former representative in the Legislature, Mark Christensen, and a current lawmaker, State Sen. Lydia Brasch of Bancroft, to keep Medicaid expansion off the ballot.

Under Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts and other fiscal conservatives, Nebraska resisted Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, with concerns federal support couldn’t be counted on over the long term.

In fact, the state recently won a $36.24 million judgment related to fees the federal government illegally collected in connection with Medicaid and a child medical coverage program.

After the Medicaid expansion ballot measure was successful, Christensen and Bancroft filed suit, alleging the initiative violated Nebraska law and the state constitution.

Proponents were able to persuade more than 133,000 Nebraskans to sign the petition, which will give voters the chance to decide whether to expand Medicaid to an additional 90,000 Nebraska residents.

While the governor and his family are not shy about using their financial power to influence public policy, capital punishment included, there is big money on the other side of the issue as well.

Providing heavy financial support for the ballot initiative was the Fairness Project, a Washington-based group formed by labor unions to push for higher minimum wages and “economic fairness” issues.

The fiscal conservatives were able to keep Medicaid expansion at bay for a few years, but now those from the other end of the political spectrum were able to put the issue back on the table.

As we pointed out in an earlier editorial, it’s now up to the voters to make the final decision and live with the results.

If approved in November, let’s hope lawmakers and the governor bow to the will of the people by implementing Medicaid expansion in good faith.

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