Lawsuit seeks to keep Medicaid expansion proposal off November ballot

Lawsuit seeks to keep Medicaid expansion proposal off November ballot
State Sen. Lydia Brasch in the State Capitol in Lincoln on Jan. 3, the opening day of this year's session of the Nebraska Legislature. (World-Herald News Service)

LINCOLN — A Republican state lawmaker and former lawmaker filed suit Tuesday to try to keep a Medicaid expansion proposal off the November ballot.

The lawsuit was filed by State Sen. Lydia Brasch of Bancroft and former Sen. Mark Christensen of Imperial.

The two are being represented by J.L. Spray, a Lincoln attorney and the state Republican national committeeman. Brasch is the state Republican national committeewoman.

Last week, leaders of Insure the Good Life submitted more than 135,000 signatures  on a petition seeking to expand Medicaid to about 90,000 more Nebraskans.

The number of signatures is well above the nearly 85,000 valid signatures of registered voters needed to put the issue to voters this fall.

Brasch said she joined the lawsuit out of concern that the cost of the proposed expansion would have a “negative impact on property taxes.” The state’s share of costs for expansion would be about $110 million per year.

She said Christensen’s concern is that expanding Medicaid would hurt funding for services to his family members with disabilities.

Their arguments echo those put forth by Gov. Pete Ricketts, who has opposed legislative efforts to expand the health program. Legislative proposals have failed six years in a row, in the face of stiff opposition from Ricketts and, before him, Gov. Dave Heineman.

The expansion proposal would provide health coverage to single adults and couples without minor children, as well as parents and disabled people with incomes up to 138 percent of the poverty level.

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