Hospital Medicaid funding bill passes on final reading

March 21, 2024, 11:44 a.m. ·

The chambers of the Nebraska Legislature
The George W. Norris Chambers at the Nebraska State Capitol. (Photo courtesy Nebraska Unicameral Information Office)

LB 1087, a bill that will increase Medicaid funding for hospitals in Nebraska passed on final reading Thursday. It was approved with an emergency clause, which would put the law in effect immediately, pending final approval from the Governor.

The bill intends to alleviate financial struggles of hospitals. In committee hearing, Scottsbluff’s Regional West Medical Center CEO, Mel McNea, said his hospital lost $54 million in 2022.

“I would have to say the post-COVID challenges are actually different and much more challenging than what I witnessed as actually serving during the COVID years,” McNea said.

On Thursday, the bill advanced by a vote of 45-0 with three senators not present and one present not voting.

Senator Ben Hansen, head of the Health and Human Services Committee, was the one senator present who didn’t vote.

During committee hearings, Hansen questioned whether LB 1087 would come with more regulations from the federal government in the future.

LB 1087 uses no state funds in the end. Hospitals in Nebraska will pay into the program up to six percent of their yearly net revenue. For every dollar paid by hospitals, they will receive an additional $2.19 of federal Medicaid money, according to the bill’s lead sponsor, Senator Mike Jacobson.

Two amendments were added during the second round of debate earlier this month. One amendment reversed a previous change to the bill that would have ended or sunset the program at the end of 2026. It advanced with no set end date.

A second amendment created a scholarship and workforce development fund out of annual private investments for nurses and other health care workers. The Nebraska Center for Nursing and the Nebraska Hospital Association will partner to oversee that part of the program.

LB 1087 now moves to Governor Jim Pillen’s desk to sign or veto.