- Associated Press - Monday, March 17, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A group of faith leaders is calling on lawmakers to pass the Wellness in Nebraska Act, which would allow more low-income residents to qualify for Medicaid or subsidized private health insurance.

More than 110 faith groups signed a letter in support of the bill, which lawmakers are expected to debate on Tuesday.

The bill would help an estimated 54,000 Nebraskans enroll in health insurance by mid-2015. Many residents who would qualify have fallen into the so-called “coverage gap,” because their incomes are too high to qualify for Medicaid but too low to qualify for private subsidies through the federal health insurance marketplace.

Gov. Dave Heineman argued his weekly newspaper column that state Medicaid expenses would grow rapidly under the bill and pull money away from other priorities, such as education.