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Medicaid expansion likely to appear on November ballot in Nebraska

Medicaid expansion likely to appear on November ballot in Nebraska
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Nebraska voters will decide whether to expand Medicaid in their state when they cast their ballots in November's midterm election. 

Insure the Good Life, an activist group seeking Medicaid expansion in Nebraska, announced on Thursday that it had gathered more than 133,000 signatures in support of a ballot initiative to authorize the expansion — well above the 85,000 valid signatures required to put the proposal on the ballot.

The measure seeks to extend Medicaid coverage to some 90,000 Nebraska residents, who currently do not qualify for the program but have difficulty purchasing health care on their own through the Affordable Care Act. 

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Two other right-leaning states, Idaho and Utah, are also slated to pose the question of whether to expand Medicaid to voters in November. Voters in Maine approved a ballot measure last year expanding their state's program.

County election officials in Nebraska now have 40 days to review the signatures. 

The Trump administration has proposed funding cuts to Medicaid, which insures some of the poorest Americans. Earlier this year, the administration moved to allow states to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients. 

"We are here today because we are seven years past due," state Sen. Adam Morfeld (D), a leading proponent of Medicaid expansion in Nebraska, said at a news conference on Thursday. "Seven years of unnecessary financial hardships, bankruptcies and pain and suffering from Nebraskans and their families."

"If we had just passed Medicaid expansion seven years ago, we could have avoided all of that."

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Republican, staunchly opposes Medicaid expansion. A spokesman for his reelection campaign said Thursday, however, that the issue now appears to be in the hands of voters. 

"The decision ultimately rests with Nebraska voters," the spokesman, Matthew Trail, said, according to the Lincoln Journal Star.