OMAHA, Neb. (AP) Billionaire Warren Buffett and another wealthy Omaha businessman have each donated $200,000 to support a ballot measure that would expand Medicaid to more low-income Nebraska residents.
Buffett, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, and Walter Scott Jr., the former head of Omaha construction company Kiewit Corp., wrote the checks to back Initiative 427 on Tuesday’s ballot, according to a recent campaign finance report. The measure would expand Medicaid coverage to an additional 90,000 residents, the Omaha World-Herald reported.
“Medicaid Expansion is the right thing to do morally, and it makes economic sense for Nebraska,” Buffett said.
Scott’s support for the measure is particularly notable, considering that he funded a past ballot issue seeking to limit government spending in Nebraska. The newspaper couldn’t reach him for comment Wednesday.
Supporters of the initiative have touted the economic benefits of putting more than $500 million in additional federal Medicaid funding into Nebraska’s health care system and economy annually.
Opponents have expressed concern about the cost to taxpayers, which is estimated to be between $39 million and $57 million per year by 2022.
Including the contributions from Buffett and Scott, about $2.9 million has been donated to support the measure, according to the Insure the Good Life ballot committee. As of last week, the group had spent $2.6 million to get out their messages through TV ads, direct mailings and other means.
Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid coverage, putting Nebraska among the one-third of states that have not.
Initiative 427 doesn’t have a formal ballot committee opposing the measure, but two groups are running independent advertisements against it.
The Alliance for Taxpayers has spent at least $50,000 in Nebraska on TV ads criticizing Medicaid expansion, while the Nebraska affiliate of limited government organization Americans for Prosperity has spent about $15,000 on radio ads calling for a no vote.