The Nebraska legislature announced Monday that the Obamacare Medicaid expansion that voters approved through a ballot measure will have to wait until October 2020.
Nebraska Health and Human Services officials said the delay is caused by having to create a new statewide system to manage newly eligible Medicaid recipients.
"It is critical that a monumental undertaking such as Medicaid expansion be customer-centered and be delivered in a deliberate and thoughtful manner," DHHS Chief Executive Officer Dannette Smith said Monday.
The expansion will provide coverage to about 94,000 Nebraskans, including single adults and couples without children who would not otherwise qualify for Medicaid. This expansion was on the ballot in November, but the plan unveiled Monday is different than what people expected.
People eligible under the new plan will have different benefits from those people on the traditional Medicaid plan. Most people would start on the basic tier but could move up to the prime tier, which includes dental and vision benefits.
To move up to the prime tier, beneficiaries would need to find a primary care physician and attend an annual checkup. They also would be subject to a work requirement, meaning that they would need to be working, caring for a relative, volunteering, looking for work, or attending college to qualify for coverage.
While other states including Arkansas and Louisiana have tried implementing a similar work requirement for Medicaid coverage, state Medicaid director Matthew Van Patton said that they've "tailored this uniquely to Nebraska.”
Nebraska still needs approval from the federal government of the 1115 demonstration waiver, which allows states to enact innovative Medicaid programs. The process of approving Nebraska’s new two-tiered system could take months.