Plan to get $1 billion boost in federal support for Nebraska hospitals advances

February 19, 2024

LINCOLN — Nebraska could get more than $1 billion of federal money to boost Medicaid rates for hospitals and other health care providers under a bill that won easy first-round approval in the Legislature Thursday.

The only controversy about Legislative Bill 1087, the Hospital Quality Assurance and Access Assessment Act, was whether to put a sunset date on the program.

State Sen. Mike Jacobson of North Platte, who introduced the bill, said Gov. Jim Pillen had insisted that the program expire on Dec. 31, 2026. Such expiration dates are often used to force lawmakers to review programs and decide whether they are worth keeping.

But Sen. Danielle Conrad of Lincoln said the sunset weakens the proposal and argued for lawmakers to defend the Legislature as a policymaking branch of government equal to the governor.

“There is a fine line between negotiation and capitulation,” she said.

LB 1087, with an amendment reflecting the negotiated agreement, would add Nebraska to the 44 states that have adopted a funding mechanism aimed at boosting federal dollars for Medicaid. Iowa recently implemented the mechanism and two other states are looking to adopt it.

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