By Mark Intermill
Do Nebraskans hate Obamacare?
A recent tweet directed at AARP expressed the opinion that they do.
The honest answer to the question is that some Nebraskans do hate Obamacare. It’s not surprising. There has been a concerted effort by some elected officials and some media outlets to paint the Affordable Care Act in the least favorable light.
That disinformation campaign has had its desired effect. It has raised questions and concerns about the ACA. In some cases they are legitimate questions and concerns. Mostly, they’re red herrings.
Despite the best efforts of those who want to undermine the ACA, a growing number of Nebraskans are taking a second look. Many are finding that the law offers benefits to them and their families. For instance:
- 767,878 Nebraskans, who have pre-existing conditions, including 105,921 children, will be able to get coverage if they should lose their current health insurance.
- 322,289 Medicare beneficiaries have lower monthly Part B premiums than they would have if the ACA had not been enacted.
- 177,050 Nebraska Medicare beneficiaries used one or more of the preventive services that the ACA assured will be provided without a copayment.
- 42,036 Nebraskans with private health insurance have received an average of $82 per family in premium refunds due to an ACA provision that requires insurers to pay 80 cents in payments for care for every dollar in premiums collected.
- 23,049 Medicare beneficiaries saved more than $15 million in prescription drug costs in 2012 due to an ACA provision that gradually closes the Part D coverage gap or donut hole.
- 20,407 Nebraskans enrolled in coverage through the marketplace as of January 31. Eighty-six percent of them have received assistance to make the coverage more affordable.
- 18,000 young adults are covered through their parent’s health insurance plans until they reach the age of 26.
The group you won’t see on that list is the 53,341 uninsured Nebraskan adults between the ages of 19 and 64 with incomes under 100 percent of the federal poverty level.
As it stands today, those Nebraskans can’t obtain affordable coverage. They don’t qualify for premium tax credits or cost sharing reductions in the healthcare marketplace. They can’t afford to pay the full cost of premiums. They are uninsured today. They will be uninsured tomorrow and into the future.
The question before us is whether that is okay. If we think that it is, then we don’t need to do anything, because the status quo, with more than 53,000 uninsured low-income Nebraskan adults, will continue. If we think that it’s not okay, the Wellness in Nebraska Act (LB 887), addresses this problem by closing the coverage gap.
As the Legislature debates LB 887 in the coming weeks, Nebraskans will weigh in with their State Senators about what path they believe we should take. Should we provide an opportunity for low-income adults who don’t have coverage to get it?
Or should we continue to exclude from health care coverage a group of people that is bigger than the population of Bellevue or Grand Island?
Mark Intermill is advocacy director for AARP in Nebraska.