Laura Berry LINCOLN(KPTM)-Nebraska is one of the states that decided not to expand Medicaid. According to a new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation, that's left tens of thousands of Nebraskans in a health coverage gap. They earn too much money to be on Medicaid and aren't eligible for premium tax credits under Obamacare. While state senators look at what can be done for people left unable to afford coverage, one Stapleton woman shares her story.
Tammy Fiechtner traveled five and a half hours from her home in Stapleton to share her story with lawmakers at Nebraska's State Capitol. Fiechtner knows the importance of health insurance, she's a cancer survivor. "I need the coverage to protect my farm and ranch so I can pass it on to future generations," said Fiechtner, who found out she couldn't afford Obamacare when she went to the Marketplace to shop for coverage. "I was told I was too poor for Obamacare, so we would be forced to go to Medicaid, which gives us no options in the State of Nebraska because we haven't expanded our Medicaid program.
Fiechtner is a farmer, rancher and sales associate from western Nebraska. She says she's worried that many people in her part of the state will be impacted because they're self-employed and pay for their own insurance. "Our only option will be to go on the open market and fund it ourselves, totally out of our own pockets. Because of the new laws of what they have to cover, our payment will go up substantially," said Fiechtner.
Fiechtner has survived cancer, her cattle have survived this year's cold snap, her crops have made it through drought, now she's wondering if she can win the battle for affordable coverage. "If you just asked me a couple of years ago if I'd be here. I would have said 'no way.' I didn't even think about being on Medicaid. I thought we'd be on Obamacare, we'd be getting our subsidies, I never once dreamed this would happen to us," said Fiechtner.
Nebraska is one of 24 states that opted not to expand Medicaid. The state's Governor has said the reason he opted out of the expansion - although it would initially be supported by Federal funds - eventually the state would have to pick up an increasing percentage of the tab - a burden he did not want to place on taxpayers.
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