Bill to Cover "Medicaid Gap" Fails; Sick Woman Speaks Out
OMAHA(KPTM)-They're too poor for Obamacare and too rich for Medicaid. Last week, a bill that would cover the estimated 55,000 Nebraskans left in the so-called "Medicaid Gap" was struck down by lawmakers. On Wednesday, those losing coverage spoke out at the Capitol, including 31-year old Amanda Gershon.
Gershon suffers from multiple Autoimmune diseases, for which she is yet to get a solid diagnosis. So, for her, health insurance is a big deal. "I would be able to get in to the doctors to get a test. I would be able to get the proper medications and get on with my life," said Gershon.
But getting that coverage has proved to be more difficult than expected. Gershon makes too little to qualify for Obamacare subsidies, but too much to meet Medicaid guidelines, leading to a huge insurance tab."It would really take 70 percent of my income to meet the premiums and deductibles," said Gershon.
Nebraska is one of many states that opted out of a federal program that would have paid some of the costs to expand Medicaid to cover those caught in the middle. State Senator Kathy Campbell proposed the Wellness In Nebraska Act this session to help residents like Gershon, the working poor who simply can't afford coverage without some sort of help.
Senator Charlie Janssen of Fremont voted against the bill, citing that money that would have gone to WIN would be cash other programs wouldn't see. " You really have to decide when you're voting for that- do you want to take money away from schools, away from roads?" asked Janssen, who defends his vote as a stand against the Affordable Care Act. "The Nebraska Legislature is not responsible for Obamacare," added Janssen.
After WIN was struck down, Gershon, Campbell and others vowed not to give up the fight. Wednesday morning, a group flooded the Capitol rotunda, urging lawmakers to continue looking for options. "I know that I've always been a strong person with a voice," said Gershon who lended hers to the cause, adding " I know that there are others here in Nebraska going through the same thing, who just don't have the strength to come forward like I do," she said.