Nebraska voters pass Medicaid expansion

Nebraska voters pass Medicaid expansion
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Voters in Nebraska approved a ballot measure to expand Medicaid, despite opposition from the state’s Republican governor and legislators.

The approval means an estimated 90,000 people, many of whom earn less than $17,000 a year, will now be eligible for Medicaid coverage. Nebraska was one of 17 states that did not take federal money to expand Medicaid as part of ObamaCare.

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Under the expansion, the federal government will cover 93 percent of the cost next year and 90 percent in subsequent years, while the state would pay the rest, which was estimated at around $90 million over three years.

The initiative was supported by billionaire Warren Buffet, who donated $200,000 to pro-expansion group Insure the Good Life, according to the Omaha World Herald.

The initiative was also bankrolled by donations from the advocacy group The Fairness Project. The group's executive director Jonathan Schleifer in a statement said the vote sends a rebuke to deep red state politicians. 

"This election proves that politicians who voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act got it wrong. Americans want to live in a country where everyone can go to the doctor without going bankrupt. Expanding access to health care isn’t a blue state value or a red state value; it’s an American value,” Schleifer said. 

There was no public polling on the measure, but Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) actively campaigned against expansion. Still, Ricketts, who won re-election Tuesday, has not said he would oppose the measure if it passes.

Bills to expand eligibility for Medicaid have been introduced in the Nebraska legislature for six straight years. All failed.