Nebraska will no longer reimburse clinics across the border in Iowa and South Dakota where Nebraskans with disabilities are treated. Officials with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services say they won’t pay out-of-state agencies because they aren’t subject to Nebraska’s rules. Nebraska state Senator Cap Dierks of Ewing chaired a recent legislative hearing where people with disabilities and their family members spoke out about the policy change.

“We don’t know what the results are going to be,” Dierks says. “We just had the hearing and got a lot of testimony and we’ll find out what effect that’s had on the department. I think there’ll be some other discussion between the committee and the department.” Testimony was taken last Thursday from some two dozen northeast Nebraskans with disabilities who have been working with agencies in Sioux City and Yankton.

Dierks says he hopes a compromise can be reached. “I think maybe we can, I know we have to try,” Dierks says. “Quite a lot of people feel disenfranchised over this whole thing up there, there’s around 25 families, but there’s got to be some way to take care of that.” Dierks says he wants to believe that Nebraska’s current budget shortfall isn’t the cause of the issue.

“We have a big budget crunch coming up and you can’t talk about much of anything without money being part of the problem,” Dierks says. “We will be talking about it again and I hope we can come up with some answers.” Nebraska officials say the law requires the state to have oversight over all service providers, but that authority can’t reach into Iowa and South Dakota.

By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton