Judge weighs decision in Nebraska Medicaid expansion case
Aug. 22, 2018
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A Nebraska judge has promised a quick decision in a case that could determine whether local residents will get to vote on a Medicaid expansion proposal.
Lancaster County District Judge Darla Ideus heard arguments Monday in the case regarding a ballot campaign spearheaded by the group Insure the Good Life, which wants to expand Medicaid to about 90,000 more residents. Sen. Lydia Brasch of Bancroft and former Sen. Mark Christensen of Imperial filed a lawsuit in July to block the proposal from the November ballot. The suit names the petition sponsors and Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale, whose office is in charge of evaluating whether the proposal qualifies for the ballot.
Insure the Good Life officials said the proposal, which has more than 133,000 signatures, would help residents statewide by expanding Medicaid eligibility to people between the ages of 19 to 64 with incomes at 138 percent of the federal poverty designation or below. That would be about $16,750 for a single person or about $34,600 for a family of four.
Brasch and Christensen are requesting that the court declare the proposal "invalid and legally insufficient." Their lawsuit argues that the proposal violates the Nebraska Constitution by including more than one subject: broadening eligibility for the state-federal health care program and asking state officials to seek federal approval of the expansion.
Gale and the Insure the Good Life ballot campaign committee have filed motions to dismiss the lawsuit.
Assistant Attorney General Ryan Post, who's representing Gale, said the proposal doesn't violate the single-subject rule because it focuses on Medicaid expansion, which is one general subject with multiple components.
The lawsuit also argues the proposal doesn't properly disclose nonprofit advocacy group Nebraska Appleseed as a petition sponsor. Insure the Good Life was a registered service mark of Nebraska Appleseed.
Insure the Good Life's attorney Andre Barry said that Nebraska Appleseed hasn't met the requirements of a sworn sponsor of the petition.
State officials must certify issues and candidates for the November ballot by Sept. 14.