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Friday, September 3, 2010

Healthy vs. educated kids

Erin Kelly

Staff Writer

Is it too much to ask for our kids to be healthy and receive the education they deserve? I guess for some people the answer is yes.

According to an article from The Hill, Governor Dave Heineman is backing school administrators into a corner by pitting education against health in an effort to stop Medicaid expansions.

 Let’s start from the beginning: Gov. Heineman recently commissioned a study to examine the effect of expanding the state’s Medicaid program under health reform. He is now using the study to claim that funding for the expansion would result in less money for education. And last Wednesday, Gov. Heinemen sent a letter to the Nebraska Council of School Administrators encouraging them to vote to support repealing health reform or risk losing significant funding.

Many have questioned the data from the study. According to Business Week,

The letter follows the release of a state-commissioned study last week that says health care reform will increase Nebraska's Medicaid costs by $526 million to $766 million over the next decade. In May, a state-by-state report commissioned by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured [http://kff.org/healthreform/8076.cfm] estimated a much lower cost of between $106 million and $155 million.

That same Kaiser study found that for this relatively small increase in Medicaid spending, the state could reduce the number of uninsured adults with incomes less than 133% of poverty by more than half, covering more than 50,000 previously uninsured Nebraskans.

And according to Sen. Ben Nelson, also of Nebraska,

Here's the bottom line: the governor's study is incomplete at best and intentionally misleading people at the worst.

Essentially, Governor Heinemen is relying on a questionable analysis—which he himself commissioned—to create a false choice between the education of Nebraska’s children and the health of Nebraska’s children and families, and he is pressuring the Nebraska Council of School Administrators to make that difficult decision.

This isn’t good politics, and it certainly isn’t good for Nebraska’s future.