Monday, December 10, 2012

The Great Cornhusker Medicaid Revolt

Nebraska Democrats (yes, they do exist folks) aren't taking GOP Gov. Dave Heineman's opposition to Medicaid expansion lying down.  They're planning to pitch a veto override to Republicans through, well, math.  State Sen. Jeremy Nordquist is leading the charge:

Nordquist says he believes the legislature could muster up enough votes to override Heineman’s veto. It takes 30 votes from the 49 lawmakers in the state’s unicameral legislature to overturn a governor’s veto. There will be 17 Democrats and two independents who will likely caucus with them in 2013, which means at least 11 Republicans would have to buck their national party line and support a key provision of the ACA. [...]
How will Nordquist bring them around? It’s a fiscal argument, he says. The state legislative fiscal office estimated that Nebraska will spend $123 million by 2020 on the expansion. But there will also likely be savings and new revenue. The fiscal office projected the state would save $100 million by 2020 because of the ACA provision that guarantees coverage regardless of preexisting conditions, which will eliminate the need for a state program that provides subsidies for high-risk insurance buyers. That money alone almost offsets the cost of the expansion, Nordquist notes.

So has this ever happened before in Nebraska history?  As a matter of fact, yes.  Cornhusker State Republicans have indeed overruled Heineman's vetoes before.

And Nordquist is confident in his ability to override his governor because he’s done it before. In 2010, after Heineman vetoed a bill that would have extended prenatal care to undocumented immigrants through the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program — claiming that Nebraska shouldn’t have to fund health care for immigrants who didn’t enter the country legally — Nordquist successfully built a coalition of 15 Democrats and 15 Republicans who voted to override Heineman’s veto. This year, Nordquist already has support from Nebraska’s Republican health committee chair, who has confirmed she will propose the bill because she supports Medicaid expansion.

Here's hoping that Nordquist can pull it off again.  I think he's got a pretty good shot.  It's certainly better than giving up and saying "Oh well, he vetoed it" right?

Go Big Red, as they say where I was born.

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