LINCOLN – Wednesday morning, Governor Pete Ricketts highlighted the State’s preparations for the fall election on November 3rd during a press briefing at the State Capitol. He also provided an update on the expansion of Medicaid. Coverage starts for the newly expanded Medicaid program on October 1, 2020.
Nebraska Secretary of State Bob Evnen joined the Governor to discuss his office’s work to safely run polling locations and to verify ballots sent in by mail. Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) CEO Dannette R. Smith also participated in the press briefing to review how to enroll for Heritage Health Adult, the expanded Medicaid program. Additionally, DHHS Interim Director of Medicaid & Long-Term Care, Jeremy Brunssen, overviewed his agency’s work to assist Nebraskans applying for the new Medicaid health care coverage.
Gov. Ricketts: Election Security
- Secretary Evnen, the Elections Division, and Nebraska volunteers did a great job of overseeing a smooth election in May.
- They’re again making preparations to ensure visits to the polls are as safe as possible for Nebraska voters.
- Given the pandemic, our elections team is prepared for an unusually large number of absentee ballots to be mailed in.
- They’re carefully reviewing incoming ballots to verify their legitimacy.
- We also want to remind folks to turn in their own ballot to the election commissioner. Do not give it to a political operative to turn in for you.
Secretary of State Evnen: Election Security
- The polls will be open as they were in the primary election. We will keep our voters and poll workers safe.
- This is a great time for young Nebraskans to step up once again and serve as poll workers. This gives a break to our older poll workers who are in high-risk health categories.
- We expect higher than normal participation in early voting. The USPS says that ballots must be in the mail by October 27th to be received by November 3rd.
- Only ballots received by the close of polls on election day will be counted.
- If you don’t feel comfortable putting your ballot in the mail, you can deliver it to secure ballot collection lock boxes outside of your county office in every county in the state. You may also deliver your ballot personally to your county election official.
- Mail-in ballots have their own security issues. We’re redoubling our efforts to ensure that ballots are cast by the registered voter and not by someone else.
DHHS CEO Smith:
- Heritage Health Adult expands the Medicaid program to Nebraskans whose income is at or below 138% of the federal poverty level.
o For a single person: $17,609
o For a family of four: $36,156
- Heritage Health Adult expands coverage to lower income adults, age 19-64, who previously may not have been eligible for Medicaid unless they had other personal or family situations that qualified them.
- With expansion, eligible Nebraskans will receive Basic benefits through a managed care program that will coordinate physical health, behavioral health, and pharmacy benefits.
- The newly eligible groups—those whose ages are 19-20, pregnant women, and those determined to be medically frail—will also be able to receive Prime benefits, which are dental and vision services and over-the-counter medications.
- To learn more about Medicaid expansion or to enroll:
o Visit www.ACCESSNebraska.ne.gov or call ACCESS Nebraska toll free at (855) 632-7633.
- In addition to weekday hours, DHHS now has extended phone hours on Saturdays from 8:00 am to noon.
DHHS Interim Director Brunssen:
- DHHS continues to provide great customer service. To support Medicaid expansion, around 100 additional staff across the state have been hired and trained, with the majority of them in our eligibility operations unit to receive and process applications.
- Technology has been updated across the state in preparation for Heritage Health Adult.
- Our managed care partners have been adding additional providers to their networks to provide care for the newly eligible Medicaid population.
- DHHS has received approval on four State Plan Amendments, our “contract” with our federal partners, to expand Medicaid in Nebraska.
- We’ve worked to communicate to the public via multiple channels (TV, radio, print media, billboards, and social media). We’ve also held well over 100 meetings this summer and fall with community partners to spread the word about Medicaid expansion.
- Since August 1, 2020, when Heritage Health Adult applications opened, through yesterday, over 10,500 Nebraskans have been determined to be eligible.
- DHHS teammates across the state stand ready to help out in any way, whether it’s answering questions about the program or helping folks apply.
Full video of Wednesday’s briefing is available by clicking here.