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Nebraska Medicaid expansion enrollment starts online Aug. 1

Published: Jul. 20, 2020 at 9:48 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - Nebraska is preparing for Medicaid expansion, set to go into effect Oct. 1, with an online application process starting Aug. 1.

Monday morning, Gov. Pete Ricketts was joined by Dannette R. Smith, CEO of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, and Jeremy Brunssen, interim director of the DHHS Division of Medicaid and Long-Term Care, for an update on the state’s Medicaid expansion.

Beginning Aug. 1, applications will be taken online at ACCESSNebraska.ne.gov. While the state is urging applications be submitted online, applicants will also be able to submit over the phone; by email, fax, or mail; or in person.

The roll-out begins nearly two years after Nebraska voters approved a measure to expand Medicaid coverage in the November 2018 election over the objections of Ricketts and conservative groups. Nebraska lawmakers and governors repeatedly rejected attempts to expand coverage, prompting a statewide ballot campaign that won with 54% support, mostly from the Omaha and Lincoln areas.

The expansion extends coverage to low-income able-bodied adults ages 19-64. Low-income is defined as those earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level; in Nebraska in 2020, that means an annual income of about $17,000 for a single adult or $36,000 annually for household of four.

Medicaid expansion gives beneficiaries access to basic benefits through a single overarching managed-care program that integrates physical and behavioral health as well as pharmacy benefits.

The state is also planning to offer Medicaid expansion beneficiaries the opportunity to qualify for enhanced prime benefits — that is, basic services plus dental, vision, and over-the-counter medications — by participating in wellness, personal responsibility, and community engagement activities. But before that can happen, DHHS state must implement the Section 1115 waiver of the Social Security Act. Delayed by COVID-19, the waiver has yet to receive final approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Even without the waiver in place, however, these prime benefits are automatically available for “eligible 19- and 20-year-olds, pregnant women, and medically frail individuals,” according to a DHHS news release.

Applications will also be taken over the phone:

  • Omaha: 402-595-1178
  • Lincoln: 402-473-7000
  • Toll-free: 855-632-7633
  • TDD: 402-471-7256

Applicants will also be able to submit a paper application downloaded from the ACCESSNebraska website by fax at 402-742-2351; by email to DHHS.ANDICenter@nebraska.gov; or by mail at P.O. Box 2992, Omaha, NE 68103-2992.

Applications will also be taken in person at any DHHS office.

The state will hire 68 more staff to process the applications, and a call center will be in place to answer questions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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