State launches website to inform Nebraskans about Medicaid expansion progress

LINCOLN — Gov. Pete Ricketts’ administration has taken a step forward on expanding Medicaid to some 90,000 low-income Nebraskans.

State officials on Wednesday unveiled a website aimed at informing residents about progress in carrying out the Medicaid expansion measure passed by voters in November.

The measure, known as Initiative 427, became law last week. It requires the Department of Health and Human Services to file a Medicaid plan amendment with the federal government by April 1.

The filing would serve as formal notification that Nebraska plans to offer Medicaid coverage to new groups of people, as allowed under the federal Affordable Care Act.

But, in a message on the site, State Medicaid Director Matthew Van Patton said several other tasks must be completed before Nebraska can start enrolling any of the newly eligible people.

“These steps include technology updates, contract updates, and others,” he said. “This blog looks to provide information on what these steps mean.”

The site also will provide information on milestones, events and updates. Related information will be posted as well, such as a frequently asked questions section.

Under Initiative 427, the newly eligible include single adults and couples without minor children who cannot qualify for Medicaid now. Also included are parents and disabled people with incomes higher than the current Medicaid cutoff.

Citizens who make up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level — $16,753 for a single person or $34,638 for a family of four this year — will be eligible. Noncitizens would not be eligible.

Ricketts fought Medicaid expansion in the Legislature before voters approved it. Since then, he has vowed to follow the will of the people.

But he has warned that he will not raise taxes, so the expansion has to fit within the revenue available for all state needs. He said funding the expansion would mean less for K-12 schools, higher education, property tax relief and other programs.

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