Published Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 3:10 pm
Midlands Voices: Reject costly expansion of Medicaid

The writer is state director of Americans for Prosperity-Nebraska.

Jan. 1, 2014, is an important date just around the corner. That is when most of the president’s health care law will go into effect. One of the key components of the law is the vast expansion of the Medicaid system, which cannot be done unless states voluntarily participate. Nebraska legislators should ignore the president’s calls.

The U.S. Supreme Court said this gigantic expansion, covering 12 million Americans, could not be forced by the federal government, putting states in the driver’s seat.

The federal government is begging states to cooperate by offering to fund 100 percent of the costs for Medicaid expansion for the first three years. After that, the states will be asked to take on a percentage of the cost.

Unfortunately, there is a group of Nebraska state senators buying this concept that federal money is “free money.”

Federal money is not “free money,” it’s taxpayer money. It’s our money.

The federal government is more than $16 trillion in debt, and neither the president nor Congress has shown much willingness to lead and solve this enormous problem. Relying on the federal government to fund expanded entitlement spending would put our state budget in a precarious situation.

While promises of federal funds for Medicaid expansion are made today, that is no guarantee of funding in the future.

In 2011, President Barack Obama proposed $72 billion in Medicaid cuts, reducing the federal support of state Medicaid costs by $15 billion. In 2012, the president again proposed cutting $70 billion from Medicaid by revising the federal match to state Medicaid programs. And the White House 2013 budget proposes to cut $351 billion from entitlement programs over 10 years.

When the federal government is forced to confront its spending problem — whether during the debt limit crisis of 2011, the fiscal cliff crisis of 2012 or the sequestration crisis of 2013 — entitlement programs, and the Medicaid program specifically, are routinely scrutinized for cost savings.

Current entitlement spending is unsustainable, and expanding the Medicaid program as allowed by President Obama’s health care law and proposed by State Sen. Kathy Campbell would only put the program at greater risk.

Medicaid expansion would cost the federal government $930 billion from 2014 to 2022. It is unknown how the federal government can fund nearly $1 trillion in additional spending without gradually shifting those costs onto the states.

The cost of Medicaid expansion in Nebraska would be devastating to our state budget. Gov. Dave Heineman estimates that Medicaid expansion would cost Nebraska as much as $766 million over 10 years. And if the federal government does reduce the federal Medicaid match, that number could go up dramatically.

Increased entitlement spending is neither practical nor ethical. Expanding entitlement programs by $1 trillion would bankrupt our social safety net and prohibit government from providing support for those who truly need it.

While providing access to affordable health coverage for all Americans is a laudable goal, simply expanding government programs and adding to our already-unmanageable federal debt is not the right approach.

Unless we put our fiscal house in order, the federal government will run out of money to spend — and Nebraska’s taxpayers will be stuck footing the bill.

Read more related stories
New public employee pay data: Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy Counties, plus utilities
2nd District House race: After 8 terms, Lee Terry knows how D.C. works — and doesn't
Bellevue man is killed at Minnesota dance hall after South Sudanese basketball tourney
Spring corn planting still sputters in Nebraska, Iowa, other key states
Nebraska banking and finance director to retire
19-year-old killed in one-vehicle crash at 72nd & Shirley
Gov. Heineman vetoes bill to ease restrictions on nurse practitioners
U.S. Senate race: State Auditor Mike Foley defends Shane Osborn against ad campaign
Public defender to represent Nikko Jenkins in sentencing
Mid-America Center on track for lower operating loss
Bluffs City Council approves dozens of new numbered street lights
National Law Enforcement Memorial Week set for May
Lori Jenkins, charged as accessory in 4 murders, waives speedy trial
Ted Cruz backs Pete Ricketts' campaign for governor
Iowa State servers hacked, nearly 30,000 SSNs at risk
Omahan charged with 5th-offense DUI after street race causes rollover
2 blocks of Grover Street closed
Safety board report blames pilot error in 2013 crash that killed UNO student, passenger
Omaha man accused in shooting ordered held on $75,000 bail
2 men charged with conspiracy to distribute meth held on $1 million bail each
Waitress who served alcohol to teen before fatal crash gets jail time, probation
La Vista plans meeting on sales tax proposal, 84th Street redevelopment
6-mile stretch of Highway 75 is the road not taken
Database: How much did Medicare pay your doctor?
Millard school board bans e-cigarettes from all district properties, events
< >
Breaking Brad: Into the claw machine! Florida kid follows Lincoln kid's lead
In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a child climbed inside a claw machine. Hey, Florida kid: Nobody likes a copycat.
Breaking Brad: Even Chuck Hassebrook's throwing mud!
The Nebraska campaigns have turned so ugly, Democrat Chuck Hassebrook lobbed unfounded accusations at an imaginary opponent.
Breaking Brad: Kraft wiener recall is business opportunity for TD Ameritrade Park
Instead of returning the wieners, TD Ameritrade Park is calling them "cheese dogs" and charging double.
Breaking Brad: Photos with the Easter Bunny are so 2010
In a sign of the times, most kids ran out of patience waiting for a photo with the Easter Bunny at the mall, just snapped a selfie and went home.
Kelly: 70 years after a deadly D-Day rehearsal, Omahan, WWII vet will return to Europe
A World War II veteran from Omaha will return this week to Europe to commemorate a tragedy in the run-up to D-Day.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Steam-A-Way Carpet Cleaning
$50 for 3 rooms and a Hallway up to 600 square feet
Buy Now
< >
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »