Unicameral aims to provide better health care

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October 8th, 2013

easelly_visualOmaha, NE — Nebraska legislators know that the future of the state depends on a healthy population, which is why they have developed Legislative Resolution 22.

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Senator Kathy Campbell and Senator Mike Gloor have introduced the resolution also known as LR22. The purpose of the resolution is to develop policy that will transform Nebraska’s health care system.

Campbell said the unicameral is looking at long-term solutions.

“No matter which side you’re on with the Affordable Care Act, health care is changing,” Campbell said. “The effort of LR22 is really to look at 10 to 15 years down the road not what’s immediately happening. We’re looking at health care at a very broad perspective not necessarily tied to the Affordable Care Act.”

The new framework will meet public health, workforce, delivery and budgetary responsibilities that will hopefully help people like John Proctor and Glenda Sorensen, who represent the 14 percent of uninsured Nebraskans under the age of 65.

“I like the idea that he’s [President Obama] getting everybody to be insured. I’m for it bottom line. I like having health care coverage for everyone who qualifies,” Sorensen said.

Alan Weil, executive director of the National Academy for State Health Policy, presented, “Building a State Health Plan for Nebraska,” during a conference at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. NASHP is a non-profit research and policy organization dedicated to state health policy and practice.

Weil was asked to examine the state of Nebraska’s health care. He said having a vision is great, but without the resources that vision may fall flat.

“By national metrics, Nebraska looks pretty good – above average in so many areas,” Weil said. “The problem is the American health care system is so expensive – uses so many of our resources and I think we all know we can do better. So just because you’re above average doesn’t necessarily mean you’re where you ought to be.”

Gloor said LR22 would give legislators the opportunity to truly assess the state’s resources.

“One of the opportunities that LR22 provides us with is to sit down and talk about how we spend our dollars.,” Gloor said. “Whether it’s individual consumers, whether it’s payers or whether it’s even providers of health care when it comes to running their physician practices or hospitals. We’re taking a look at the broad issue of the economy here without any great degree of specificity.”

According to LR22, 11 of Nebraska’s 93 counties have no primary care physicians. The University of Nebraska Medical Center reports that by 2014 the state will need at least 1,685 primary care physicians, 314 primary care nurse practitioners and 350 primary care physician assistants to meet the increased demand from the Affordable Care Act.

Dr. Rowen Zetterman, said there is no question that Nebraska needs more health care professionals in rural areas of the state.

“We only need about 25 to 30 more physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants to meet the needs of all that population,” Zetterman said. “So when you think about it being spread out across all of the physicians of Nebraska many of whom are already caring for those uninsured patients in their practices anyway it won’t be as tough of an issue getting covered.”

Senator Campbell and Senator Gloor hope to develop a health care system in the near future that will benefit generations for years to come.

The Health and Human Services Committee of the Legislature and the Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee of the Legislature are scheduled to hold a joint hearing by November 1 to discuss LR22.

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