(Lincoln-August 28, 2019) – Two Nebraska residents filed a lawsuit Wednesday, seeking to force the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services to expand Medicaid coverage in 2019. Nebraska Appleseed is representing the two uninsured Nebraskans in the lawsuit.
“Our clients in this suit are two individuals who are eligible for expanded Medicaid coverage and have serious health conditions for which treatment is critically needed. Tens of thousands of Nebraskans are experiencing similar challenges as they wait for coverage,” said James Goddard, Director of Appleseed’s Economic Justice Program. “This suit seeks to ensure our family members, friends, and neighbors receive Medicaid coverage this year and that Nebraska tax dollars are brought back to support our health care system.”
In April, Nebraska’s DHHS announced that Medicaid would not be expanded until October 1, 2020. According to the lawsuit, the time until implementation violates the duty set by the initiative to maximize federal funds to support Medicaid expansion. Based on estimates from the Department, delaying implementation until October 1, 2020 would fail to capture approximately $149 million in federal reimbursement for the program. The two individuals who filed the suit are asking the Nebraska Supreme Court to require Department officials to open enrollment for Medicaid expansion on or before November 17, 2019. That is the latest possible date for open enrollment that would allow federal funds to pay for 93 percent of the costs of Medicaid expansion. Federal reimbursement drops to 90 percent starting January 1, 2020.
“Voters resoundingly decided that every Nebraskan must have affordable health care by passing Initiative 427 into law. The Department’s leaders have the duty to honor that vote and faithfully implement the initiative as written,” said Goddard. “Unfortunately, that is not what is happening. This lawsuit is intended to ensure the law passed by voters is followed, Nebraska tax dollars are brought back to our state, and most importantly, our clients and the other 90,000 uninsured Nebraskans receive Medicaid coverage this year.”