Dollars and cents are on the minds of every Nebraskan as the state legislature enters a year that is sure to be full of tough budget cuts.  Governor Heineman inflamed these concerns by furthering a distinctly political agenda when he ordered a partisan study on the impact of Medicaid expansion in Nebraska.  

For all his claims to be concerned about healthcare because it is “potentially devastating to our state budget,” Heineman had no problem spending $47,000 (of taxpayer dollars?) on a completely unnecessary “independent analysis” from the national actuarial firm Milliman, Inc.  Especially when a perfectly adequate, non-partisan and widely cited report from the Kaiser Family Foundation already existed.

The Kaiser and Milliman reports were both conducted with potential high and low participation scenarios, although significant doubt has been cast upon the accuracy of Milliman findings.  For example, the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid projects that the expansion will cost $155 million over six years, while the Milliman report projects between $387 million and $573 million over the same time frame.

Aside from attempting to use the Milliman results to pit healthcare against education, all of these loose ends beg the following questions: Who paid for this expensive independent analysis from a consulting company that has also done work for other states suing the federal government over the healthcare law?  And why, when a comprehensive state-by-state assessment already existed, was a new report commissioned in the first place?

In a time when belts are only getting tighter, we’re waiting for the answers and waiting for Heineman to start tightening his in the right places.