Since the passage of the federal health care law, I have been concerned about the cost of this law and in particular its impact on the State of Nebraska in future years. We recently asked an expert, independent firm to assess the provisions of the law. The results of their analysis are staggering.
The financial analysis reveals the new cost to the State of Nebraska to finance expanded Medicaid programs will be between $526 million and $766 million over the next 10 years.
This unfunded and unparalleled expansion of Medicaid is an unfair and unsustainable mandate on Nebraska and other states.
Conducted by an independent third party with experience consulting on the Medicaid programs for two dozen states, the analysis looked at 2011 through 2020 and provided an estimate of Nebraska's obligation for funding new and expanded Medicaid programs under the federal health care law.
Today nearly one in nine Nebraskans are enrolled in Medicaid. The expansion of Medicaid in the federal law is predicted to add 107,000 to 145,000 newly eligible Nebraskans to the program.
The bottom line is that with full participation, approximately one in every five Nebraskans would be enrolled in Medicaid within 10 years.
This analysis confirms that the federal health care law is an extraordinarily large and excessive unfunded mandate for states. It confirms that this law has potentially devastating consequences for our state budget.
Medicaid is already one of state government's largest funding commitments. The law requires states to make additional funding commitment, which will be potentially devastating to the state budget. This unfunded mandate could reduce funding for the education of our children.
We balance our state budget and our residents balance their family and household budgets. This is not the way that Nebraska does business.
It is why Nebraska has joined with 20 other states in a lawsuit challenging the federal health care law. The individual mandate contained in the federal health care law requiring that every citizen purchase health insurance is an unfair requirement. The unfunded mandate on state governments to pay for the federal government's expansion of Medicaid is equally unjust and unfair.
I have said many times, this federal health care law is bad news for Nebraska and bad news for America. The results of this analysis are a first look at how bad. It is unacceptable and unfair to Nebraskans.
Dave Heineman of Fremont is governor of Nebraska. He can be reached at P.O. Box 94848, Lincoln NE 68509-4848, (402) 471-2244, fax: (402) 471-6031 or e-mail at his Web site, www.governor.nebraska.gov.