Medicaid expansion a rural lifeline
Legislative Bill 887 would provide health insurance to about 80,000 low-income working Nebraskans by expanding Medicaid. Politics is no different at the federal or state level. We can only hope that cool heads prevail and that the needs of Nebraskans are our focus.
Most uninsured Nebraskans reside outside Omaha and Lincoln. Expanded insurance options or Medicaid would make a difference for rural Nebraskans. It might keep a doctor and a couple nurses in their community, keep the doors open at their small, critical-access hospital and skilled nursing home, keep their pharmacy delivering medications to those unable to travel.
Our governor and candidates for governor express concern for rural Nebraska. It is estimated that full expansion of Medicaid would add $2 billion to $3 billion to the state’s economy — a huge stimulus — for a cost of less than 10 percent of that. Nebraska taxpayers would pay for expansion anyway (our federal tax dollars would support expansion in other states), so we are talking about a huge impact and mistake if LB 887 is not passed.
Tax relief and Medicaid expansion can both happen, but it takes leadership and vision. It is time for the Legislature to vote on Medicaid expansion. The governor should have to veto this bill, not hide behind a procedural rule that doesn’t allow a bill to come to a vote.
With overflowing state coffers, now is the time to help our fellow Nebraskans.
Thomas Tonniges, M.D., Omaha
Give extra state money back to taxpayers
I applaud Gov. Dave Heineman for wanting to give hardworking Nebraskans tax relief, and I’m appalled by liberal state senators who can’t wait to spend the excess tax money. It’s time to give back to the taxpayers.
Shortsighted senators see the money and want to immediately spend it by expanding the Medicaid program. They say there are millions of federal dollars being bypassed because we won’t expand Medicaid. Don’t they realize there’s no such thing as free federal money? It’s tax money, taken from hardworking citizens!
If Nebraska expands Medicare, taxpaying Nebraskans would be on the hook for the cost after the federal money dries up in a few years.
If you want to do something good with the extra tax dollars, remove the state tax on retirement incomes. Nebraskans who worked and lived in the state all their lives have to consider moving because of the tax burden.
Kenneth A. Becker, Omaha
Park maintenance should be a priority
Please fund the Nebraska Game and Parks’ parks division.
One of state government’s first priorities should always be to fund and maintain our state property (buildings, roads, parks, historical sites) for the collective good. These assets have been passed down through generations of Nebraskans.
It is a shame the governor wants to reduce our tax burden and at the same time not better fund maintenance of our parks and historical sites.
Craig S. Danielson, Omaha
Arming schoolteachers too big a risk
Regarding Legislative Bill 879: Giving teachers the opportunity to carry handguns at school would be like giving small children a telephone. They may use it correctly, but there’s a good chance that they won’t.
The cons outweigh the pros here. If a teacher is allowed to carry a handgun, then that gives him or her the chance to threaten students with it, or worse. It’s a risk we cannot take.
Instead of students going to school in fear of bullies, they would go to school in fear of one of their teachers going off the deep end.
Hailee Nelson-O’Neal, Omaha
Only rural teachers need to carry guns
I believe teachers don’t need to carry a gun. If a teacher teaches in a rural school, then I could support the bill. But schools in cities have generally good police response time, so there is no need for teachers to have a gun.
A teacher who generally isn’t accustomed to using a gun shouldn’t be allowed to use one in school. It poses more of a risk than a help. In emergency situations, people generally are scatter-brained, and a clear mind is necessary when operating a gun.
Brianna Martinie, Omaha
Teachers, too, could become shooters
Regarding the bill to allow teachers to carry concealed handguns, my question is: What about when you have a teacher who is in deep financial trouble because he has gambled all his money away at an Iowa casino? His wife has left him and has gotten a restraining order because of his erratic behavior. The pressure is starting to get to him. Now he is sitting in front of a classroom full of students with his concealed weapon.
Teachers aren’t immune to the pressures that push people who commit these types of shootings over the edge. No one is.
A retired police officer in Florida is accused of killing a man in an argument over texting in a movie theater. I’m sure he was qualified to carry a weapon and is a person everyone would consider capable, but then, you never know.
Tom Lutz, Papillion
Health law a step up for mental health
The Affordable Care Act is a positive step forward for the world of mental health and mental health care reform.
Because of the ACA, I cannot be denied insurance coverage based on a pre-existing condition, and mental health care coverage is a requirement for insurance companies. For the first time, there are laws recognizing mental health as a significant health concern. For the first time, those suffering from a mental illness are recognized as living with a real condition.
All too often, mental health care is seen as a luxury for the self-indulgent. Somehow mental health becomes disconnected from physical health. Let me remind you that the brain is a physical organ.
I had hoped that my mental illness would be on the same footing as physical illness under the ACA. Not quite true, as I discovered last month when the cost of a necessary medication went from $38 to $56.
Much of this country still views mental health care as a luxury and expendable. Is this discrimination? I don’t know, but it sure feels like it. This stigma is real. I live with it every day, and so do one in four Americans.
Cathryn Reed, St. Edward, Neb.
Borrowing can be a worthwhile step
Sen. Deb Fischer, explaining why she opposed the extension of unemployment insurance, said the main reason we are “doing well” in Nebraska “is we don’t borrow money, we don’t survive on debt” (Jan. 9 World-Herald).
She forgets that Nebraska has banks, that Nebraskans have credit cards, that businesses borrow money to invest and that individual consumer credit drives our economy.
Sometimes in Republicanland, debt is not debt and borrowing is not borrowing. Ranchers don’t borrow money to buy cattle. Corporations don’t borrow money for mergers and acquisitions. They aren’t “borrowing.” They are “financing” and “capitalizing investments.”
The U.S. government borrowed big-time to send our finest young people to fight two wars while reducing taxes on rich families and corporations. I think that kind of government debt is all right with Sen. Fischer.
But when people like you and me borrow to buy a used car to get to work and take the kids to the doctor, that is different. In Republicanland, if the car breaks down and we lose that job, we simply need to find another job from among the thousands of openings, take the bus to work and wait until after work to take the kids to the emergency room doctor.
In Republicanland, borrowing money to invest in Americans through unemployment compensation, food stamps, Medicaid or Social Security is not OK.
Our Nebraska congressional delegation must recognize the wisdom of investing in our neighbors’ well-being during hard times.
Jim Boucher, Valley, Neb.
Don’t assume Hispanics all Democrats
A couple of Pulse writers have stated that Democratic leaders are trying to pass an immigration reform to get more Hispanics to vote for them.
What these writers don’t realize is that the only reason Hispanics are turning their backs on the GOP is because of the way the Republican Party has treated us lately. If they actually knew a little bit about Hispanic culture, they would realize that a lot of Hispanics have very strong conservative views.
So to claim that immigration reform would help only Democrats is completely wrong.
Juan Franco, Omaha
Good-time policy serves prison purpose
We need good time for prisoners. It’s a goal prisoners have to look forward to.
We also need rehab programs. There are people in prison who don’t need to be. They are just taking up space. The way they are punished is overkill.
They could be out and in rehab programs, working and providing for their families, instead of the taxpayers providing for them.
William Manes, Omaha