Eleven months after leveraging enough votes across the state to expand Medicaid in Nebraska, state legislators have manufactured delays and complications hindering its implementation. In response, OTOC leaders and allies traveled to the Capitol to call on legislators to "honor the vote" and fulfill the will of Nebraskan voters.
At a press conference outside, OTOC leader Dr. Carol LaCroix, a family physician, questioned why the governor’s administration was erecting barriers to care and significantly delaying implementation of expansion. In the hearing itself, OTOC leader Mary Spurgeon (photo above) itemized the harm done by failing to expand Medicaid for the seventh year, pointing out that the altering of the law, passed as Initiative 427, constituted a failure by the governor and legislators to carry out constitutional duties.
Following the hearing, OTOC leaders delivered copies of their testimony to the governor and senators. Leaders are now urging constituents to contact their senators on this issue.
OTOC Leaders Testify Against Delays and Complications of Medicaid, Omaha Together One Community
In fall of 2018, the federal government proposed redefining who might be considered a “public charge” -- a federal designation for people it believes are overly dependent on federally-funded social services. Under proposed changes, immigrants who are "likely at any time" to become a public charge could be ineligible to get visas and green cards that give them legal permanent residency.
Dallas Area Interfaith soon began receiving calls from parents of US-born children who stopped getting medical care and nutrition assistance for their kids. In response, DAI began organizing parish-based efforts to educate and urge the public to weigh in on the proposed changes .
“We have already heard stories of parents un-enrolling their kids from CHIP,” Lead Organizer Josephine Lopez-Paul said. “It is another piece in building a culture of fear.”
It is through congregation-based relationships and networks that DAI is educating the public about ways to take action on this issue.
[Photo Credit: Obed Manual, Dallas Morning News]
With access to health care on the line for 90,000 Nebraskans, OTOC leaders worked hard to expand Medicaid for those with no health insurance. After efforts to secure enough votes to overcome a filibuster in the Nebraska Unicameral proved unsuccessful, OTOC partnered with allies in 2018 to secure a place on the November Midterm ballot for 'Initiative 427' as a way to secure Medicaid Expansion in Nebraska. On November 6, 2018, the effort succeeded.
Over the course of the year, OTOC leaders mobilized 50 individuals who secured 3,500 signatures in the effort to get the initiative on the ballot. OTOC organized 17 civic academies in Omaha congregations and public libraries to help build an educated constituency and, in efforts to educate the public, published seven Opeds, including four in the Omaha World Herald. In the final days leading to the vote, the World Herald selected OTOC to counter final arguments by a team including the former Governor, Attorney General and a member of Koch Brothers Nebraska.
Leaders testified at State hearings, leveraged commitments from winning Congressional candidates to protect Medicaid Expansion if Initiative 427 were to pass, and organized a fall accountability assembly in which all seven Unicameral candidates committed to implementing Medicaid expansion.
Initiative 427 won with a margin of 41,594 votes statewide. Counties where OTOC focused -- Douglas and Sarpy -- were critical to overcoming vote deficits elsewhere. In Douglas County, alone, 111,630 residents voted FOR Initiative 427, approximately one third of the statewide total, and far exceeding the margin of victory.
OTOC leaders are now turning their attention to implementation of Medicaid expansion, to ensure it reaches those who most need it.
Imperative That Nebraska Pass Initiative 427 and Expand Medicaid, Omaha World Herald
Medicaid for Public Health, Omaha World Herald
On a dark Wednesday evening, 500 leaders from Nevadans for the Common Good lit up the gym at West Prep Academy and assembled to secure commitments from federal, gubernatorial, and state candidates at a nonpartisan accountability assembly at West Prep Academy.
With pressure from leaders, candidates committed to work with NCG to increase affordable housing units, invest in public education, increase funding for FQHCs, protect Medicaid expansion, shine a light upon delays in the citizenship process, and create a database to protect consumers from predatory payday lending.
During the forum, leaders shared their personal experiences including on healthcare. NCG leader Taj Ainlay testified that qualifying for Medicaid enabled him to see a doctor “for the first time in seven years.” Agatha Ramirez shared that it took her five months to become a US citizen and that it had taken her brother-in-law nineteen months and counting.
Among the candidates who attended were gubernatorial candidate Steve Sisolak (D), senatorial candidate Jacky Rosen (D), congressional candidates Steven Horsford (D), Susie Lee (D), Danny Tarkanian (R), and Representative Dina Titus (D).
Candidates Asked Views on Pressing Issues at Las Vegas Forum, Las Vegas Review-Journal [pdf]
Forty members from St. John the Evangelist Church and the neighborhood attended a civic academy yesterday to learn about “public charge.” This new policy by the Trump Administration’s Department of Homeland Security would affect many legal immigrants who are applying for permanent residency (green cards) and penalize applicants if they or their families have received government support such as SNAP (food stamps), subsidized health care, and other support that the government has labeled a “public charge.”
As rumors of this new policy surfaced, immigrant churches and Pima County Interfaith started conducting research. The fear began a few months ago when the press began to talk again about this policy. Rumors and misinformation led many immigrants to renounce their citizen children’s benefits out of fear. Among those immigrants most affected by this proposal are low-income families, single mothers, and children with chronic illnesses.
At Sunday’s session, a single mother asked if she could lose her permanent residency if she continued to receive AHCCCS, Arizona’s version of Medicaid, for her infant baby. Fortunately, she received her visa through the VAWA program that so far is exempt from being a 'public charge.'
After the session, some attendees thanked the St. John team for making this presentation. They said they felt more relaxed now that they knew which programs would be counted as 'public charge.'
A young mother said, "I'm going to register for citizenship classes and I'm going to apply to become a citizen. I'm afraid this administration will find another way to revoke my residency and separate me from my family."
...The Senate's attempt to restructure health care policy will, among other things, wipe out Medicaid expansion, which helps to cover nearly half of our children and makes rural health possible.Read more
NCG Continues Push for Transparency in Medicaid Privatization & Greater Focus on Teacher Shortage Crisis
State legislators Senator Michael Robertson and Assemblymen Paul Anderson and John Hambrick listened as Marsha Rodriguez told her story about the fragility of independence as a senior. 72 years old, Rodriguez described waiting 6 months to get into a Nevada Medicaid waiver program, the Home and Community Based Waiver, which helps pay for non-medical services that are essential for some aging seniors to continue living at home. After seven years of receiving non-medical care, she fears that privatization of Medicaid services would reduce access to those services and push her into a nursing home. NCG leader Barbara Paulsen noted that the cost of at-home services for six or seven people is about equal with the cost of covering one person in a nursing home.Read more
"We are just concerned about transparency," said Barbara Paulsen, whose church in Boulder City is a member of NCG. The proposed change could impact 54,000 people statewide. ""If there's a transition, it needs to be carefully planned," Paulsen said Wednesday. "It's a major decision and people need to be aware of it and need to have an understanding of the steps being taken and the rationale and ability to comment on them."Read more