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Neb. Senate Rejects Medicaid Family Planning Expansion Bill

March 2, 2015 — The Nebraska Senate on Thursday voted 23-21 against a bill (LB 77) that would have made health screening and contraceptive services more accessible to low-income women, NET reports (Knapp, NET, 2/26).

Background

The measure, proposed by state Sen. Jeremy Nordquist, would have allowed Nebraska women with family incomes of up to 185% of the federal poverty level to access Medicaid services for family planning and health screenings. In addition, Nordquist's measure would have allotted about $500,000 in fiscal year 2015-2016 and FY 2016-2017 for outreach, education and preventive services for medically underserved women.

Twenty-nine states have federal approval for similar Medicaid family planning programs (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/12).

Legislative fiscal staff predicted the bill could have saved the state $13 million annually.

Debate

Nordquist said, "This is a surefire, evidence-based, practiced-in-29-states way to reduce Medicaid costs" (Stoddard, Omaha World-Herald, 2/26).

State Sen. Mark Kolterman, who opposed the measure, said the bill "deals with something that [he has] fundamentally ... opposed for a number of years, and that's the federal government paying for contraception."

Nordquist said, "[W]e aren't forcing anything on anybody here .... If somebody has a moral objection to contraception, that woman doesn't have to use it by any means" (NET, 2/26).