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Senator Tom Brewer

Senator Tom Brewer

The ballot initiative petition drive for the “Medicaid Expansion” (otherwise known as Obamacare) has collected enough signatures to be put on the ballot. So far, Nebraska is one of only 17 states smart enough not to have implemented this big mistake.

The bottom line is this: Passing Obamacare in Nebraska means there is no chance we will get any property tax relief. That is the choice facing Nebraskans. Do you want Obamacare or do you want Property Tax Relief? Pick one. You can’t have both. There isn’t enough money. My constituents have been overwhelmingly clear on this point. Property Tax relief has been and continues to be the #1 issue in my district.

In every state that has had the misfortune of implementing Obamacare, the enrollment spending has ALWAYS far exceeded estimates. Oregon and Ohio are great examples of this. More people sign-up than the state budgeted for. The legislature ends up holding the bag, scrambling to find ways to pay for it. Nebraska is already a high-tax state, higher than any of our neighbors. We already have a bloated state budget of $4.5 billion. It has almost doubled in just the last ten years. Will we cut a program to pay for Obamacare? I’ve heard rumors that education funding would have to be cut to pay for this.

We will take up a bill early in the session to pass an internet sales tax. I hate the idea of passing any new tax, but this is a matter of fairness to our main street brick and mortar businesses. They have to collect sales tax, so should their competitors who do business on the internet. Estimates range from $30 to $60 million in new sales tax revenue that will be generated by this. Mark my words, there will be Senators who will want to spend this windfall on Obamacare instead of property tax relief.

1 in 5 dollars in a hospital’s budget is devoted to collecting bills. Right now Nebraska healthcare providers are already faced with carrying large sums of money in “accounts receivable” as they struggle to get reimbursed from our State government for Medicaid patients. Obamacare will make provider reimbursement even more difficult - as it has in every other State that has implemented it.

In addition, implementing Obamacare and adding able-bodied adults to the current Medicaid population will crowd out services to the truly needy and disabled – exactly the people Medicaid was designed to help in the first place. Imagine adding a number of people to the current Medicaid roles that results in nearly 20% of Nebraska’s population on Obamacare. How did we get to such a place where one in five Nebraskans are on government assistance? Providing free healthcare to an expanded group of people does not increase the quality of that group’s “health.” There is a lot of very good research on this point. I encourage folks to study The Oregon Health Insurance Experiment and see for themselves. Arguing that we are missing out on the dubious federal funding that comes with this program is like bribing someone with their own money. It’s our federal income tax and massive government borrowing that pays for it.

Government has made healthcare in America a “third-person purchase.” This is a service somebody buys with someone else’s money, to be provided to someone else. This is unlike a first-person purchase (bought by you – used by you) where price and value are the primary considerations in the decision. Third-person purchases couldn’t care less how much something costs or how well it performs. Everything government spends money on is a 3rd person purchase. As long as government continues to interfere with the healthcare market, it will cost way too much and be increasingly hard for people to get.

Is healthcare for poor people REALLY the problem, or is it our State’s economy not producing the good-paying jobs with benefits people need? Do we raise taxes and increase government spending, or do we figure out a way to grow Nebraska’s economy so we can reduce the number of people who need government assistance? Implementing Obamacare is just treating a symptom of the larger problem we should be addressing.

Please contact my office with any comments, questions or concerns. Email me at; tbrewer@leg.ne.gov. Mail a letter to; Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1202, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or call us at (402) 471-2628.

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