Affordable health care is one of the reasons I entered the race for the State Legislature. I believe ALL Nebraska citizens should have access to affordable health care coverage. It is one of my top priorities and appears on all of my literature. As I have walked door-to-door, the stories of individual families and business owners have made a great impression on me:
*I met a woman who had health insurance but still owes $10,000 from a hospital stay and is afraid of losing her home.
*I met a small business owner who was stressed by the fact that she and her husband couldn't find affordable health insurance for themselves and their employees.
*I met a well-paid technology worker who sees his salary increasing but his take-home pay decreasing because of rising health care costs.
So what can be done? I am studying solutions. My yardstick is this:
"The moral test of a government is how it treats those who are at the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those who are in the shadow of life, the sick and the needy, and the handicapped." - Hubert Humphrey
First, all Nebraska children must be covered by health insurance. At the root of this pledge is the SCHIP (State Children Health Insurance Program) program. Eligibility is determined by a family's income related to the federal poverty level. Nebraska provides coverage to children in families that earn no more than 185% of the poverty level. For a family of four the poverty level is $21,200. So a family of four with an income of up to $39,200 is eligible for SCHIP. Nebraska is only one of ten states that have established eligibility for the program below 200%. As a State Senator, I will introduce legislation to increase the eligibility for the SCHIP program.
Another urgent need in our State is ensuring that our seniors are provided with choices regarding their health care. The AARP recommends that funding be increased for the Community Aging Services Act (CASA). CASA is a comprehensive and coordinated system of community aging services that support the health care and independence of older Nebraskans. The services allow older persons to live in their own homes as long as possible thereby avoiding nursing home placement which often leads to Medicaid eligibility. Home health care is not only less expensive for the state but is the preference of older adults. As a State Senator, I will work to ensure that our seniors have access to programs that enable them to stay in their homes while receiving quality services to address their health care needs.
The most pressing challenge facing our state is access to affordable health care for the middle class. Some candidates for public office will tell you that we must wait until pressure builds at the national level for the next President and Congress to address this crisis by creating a plan for national health insurance.
I believe that Nebraska must start to address this crisis at the state level. The Nebraska Medical Association assembled a Nebraska Health Care Reform Task Force and published a report in November 2007. The Preamble states, "The Nebraska Medical Association Health Reform Task Force posits that all Nebraskans should have access to timely needed health care that emphasizes good heath habits, wellness, and prevention, that health care in Nebraska must be of high quality, efficient, affordable and equitably accessible to all. It also posits that good health and access to needed health care are social goods that contribute to the well-being of the state and all its residents." This summer, the NMA will begin an education process based on their report. Ultimately, their goal is to involve the many health care players in a discussion to develop a plan that will fulfill their goals. I have asked to participate in those discussions as a candidate this year. As a State Senator, I am committed to finding a solution that will ensure that ALL Nebraskans have access to affordable health care.
I will fight to provide affordable healthcare for families and small businesses as the next State Senator from District 21.
If you are concerned about Affordable Health Care, I hope you will join in my campaign to become the next State Senator from District 21.