Nebraska Medicaid expansion appears to be headed for November ballot

Nebraskan advocates have cleared their biggest hurdle yet in their quest for Medicaid expansion.

Enough signatures have been collected in the state to trigger a ballot initiative this fall, according to Insure the Good Life, an advocacy group that supports expansion in the Great Plains state.

To make the November ballot, the petition must have 85,000 valid signatures from registered voters. The group said Thursday it surpassed that goal by about 50,000, which now heads to the Nebraska Secretary of State for verification.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services would also need to approve any passed expansion before it is implemented.

"Nothing says freedom more than affordable healthcare for Nebraskans and our families," Adam Morfeld, a Democratic state senator, said at a press briefing. "Now people are speaking out and getting the job done that should've been done long ago."

Nebraska's Republican legislators have rebuked and filibustered expansion efforts for years, citing monetary and cost concerns.

If successful, the expansion would provide coverage to 90,000 people who are earning up to 138% of the poverty line. But Nebraska isn't the only state with Medicaid expansion on its ballot this year.

Groups in Utah and Idaho have also submitted enough signatures for similar ballot initiatives in their states. Maine passed expansion in 2017 via a ballot initiative by about a 20-point margin.