For Immediate Release
Friday, October 1, 12:00 pm
Nebraska Capitol Rotunda
Medicaid Buy-In Expansion Takes Effect
Lincoln- In 2020 the legislature passed LB 323 a bill to eliminate a major eligibility barrier for people with disabilities to participate in the Medicaid Insurance for Workers with Disabilities (MIWD) program. This is an important, yet widely underutilized, program that would allow individuals with disabilities who use Medicaid to have a job, increase hours, or take a raise without losing their Medicaid benefits. The MIWD program permits individuals to earn above the poverty level without losing Medicaid. Participants with higher income and earnings may have a premium. The MIWD program is a vital employment tool that encourages more contributions to the community. We are excited to see that as of October 1, 2021, that this update will take effect!
While Nebraska may enjoy one of the nation’s lowest unemployment rates, the same is not equal. Nebraskans with disabilities are approximately 30% less likely to be employed than those without disabilities.
Medicaid plays a vital role in the lives of many Nebraskans with disabilities. Nebraskans with disabilities often live at or below the poverty line. Medicaid often provides a more robust array of essential services beneficial for people with disabilities that may not be provided in a private or employer-based insurance plan. So many Nebraskans with disabilities who use Medicaid are forced to choose between their Medicaid life-line and working—a huge employment disincentive.
- The employment rate for people with disabilities in Nebraska: 51.8%
- The employment rate for people without disabilities in Nebraska: 86.4%
- The percentage of people with disabilities working full-time, full-year (Nebraska): 37%
- Percentage of people without disabilities working full-time, full-year
This is a significant expansion of opportunities for people with disabilities to find new employment opportunities. We urge employers to consider hiring job seekers with disabilities and we encourage job seekers or individuals already working to seek Benefits Counseling Services or contact their Benefits Counselors to see if they can work more hours or take a raise under this program.
“I felt called into this work because I was a former employer who hired people with disabilities. They were some of the hardest working, most dedicated individuals I've had the pleasure to manage. With one in particular, we ran into this issue on several occasions. The first time I wanted to promote her, I was shocked to hear her say: “No, I can’t take that promotion because I would lose the Medicaid that keeps me alive. What employee who is hardworking, has excellent attendance, and stellar performance would say that they don't want a promotion with a higher salary? Yet this is a story I've heard from many others in Norfolk, Kearney, Lincoln, Hastings, and Omaha.” Edison McDonald, Executive Director The Arc of Nebraska
“I work as a bakery clerk for Super Saver. I believe that people with disabilities are strong and faithful workers and are willing to work shifts that are suitable for their needs. I've been at Super Saver for about eleven years. When I had a short term job offer to also work at another organization because of the old standards I almost lost my Medicaid. Under this new program I would be able to work without losing my benefits. This is important because I love the place I work. I don't think people with disabilities should be cooped up in day programs. Without work, my life would be boring and I would be depressed.” Erin Phillips Self Advocate
“Nebraskans with disabilities who are utilizing Medicaid have faced a wholly unique problem. If they go to work and have an income, they would risk becoming ineligible for Medicaid's income limit due to their earnings. We are excited for this expanded opportunity for Nebraskans with disabilities to seek employment with the self determination and independence that follow.” Brad Meurrens, Disability Rights Nebraska
“With a team of certified Work Incentive Coordinators and Counselors, Easterseals Nebraska is prepared to help guide individuals through understanding and utilizing this newly improved program, allowing people to see greater opportunity with work and make informed choices as it best fits into their personal goals and daily life.” Shauna Dahlgren Easterseals Nebraska
Edison McDonald, The Arc of Nebraska, 402-475-4407 or [email protected]
Erin Phillips, Self Advocate, 402-480-2482