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Archive for May, 2018

June Issue Cafes at Urban Abbey

May 30th, 2018

A few months a year, the Urban Abbey, a coffe shop/bookstore/Methodist Congregation partners with OTOC as community partners. As community partners in June, OTOC receives 10% of the coffee bar sales in the month (drink up in June!) as well as hosts learning opportunities at the Abbey. This June will be OTOC’s second Urban Abbey month of the year, and some OTOC action teams are hosting four great Issue Cafes to learn more about some issues they are working on. Please join us at any and all of these events, and learn about issues affecting Omaha families.

Events are located at Urban Abbey, 1026 Jackson Street

-June 19: A Merciful Alternative to Payday Lending. 6:45-8 pm
The OTOC Payday Lending Action Team will sponsor a presentation by Jerry Byers of Community Debt Solutions about an experimental, non-profit alternative to payday lenders that would offer short-term, small-principal loans to borrowers with limited access to credit.

– June 28: What is the Ban the Bag Campaign? 6:45-8 pm
Join environmental sustainability leaders to hear from Omaha City Council members Ben Gray and Pete Festersen about the Ban the Bag ordinance being introducing that would ban plastic grocery bags in the city of Omaha.

How we can change the Narrative for Substandard Rental Housing on June 5


June 13th Issue Cafe at Urban Abbey was a successful discussion surrounding Medicaid Expansion in Nebraska. Medicaid Expansion Action Team co-chair Mark Hoeger gave an excellent presentation on why Nebraskans should be advocates for extending Medicaid Expansion on the ballot in November. The ballot initiative movement in Nebraska is strong, and this meeting inspired more individuals to sign and start gathering signatures themselves. Although the movement is strong, we need every signature we can get! If you are interested in hosting an event at your parish please contact Mary Spurgeon at (402) 292-1157 or and to get a walk list for your neighborhood contact Paul Romero at or (402) 881-2591. To learn more and view more resources go to


Now it’s up to You- Medicaid Expansion in Nebraska

May 21st, 2018

Summer intern from Creighton, Paul Romero, collection a signature for the ballot petition

Working together with Insure the Good Life, the OTOC Medicaid Expansion team has been hard at work collecting signatures to get Medicaid Expansion on the ballot in November. 

Should the measure get on the ballot and be approved by Nebraska voters, this would serve to expand Medicaid coverage to 90,000 working Nebraskans who currently do not qualify for the program because their income is too high while also having incomes that are too low to qualify for healthcare subsidies. In essence they are in a “coverage gap.” This ballot initiative would propose an expansion law to the ballot in November, and supporters need to gather 85,000 signatures by July 6. There is not only a moral obligation to this issue, but fiscal benefits of expansion as well. “Study after study shows that we wasted dollars delaying until it is often too late for diseases like cancer, diabetes, drug addictions, mental health, high blood pressure and heart ailments. Diseases that could have been prevented at a fraction of the cost, if folks had access to early preventative treatments.” Nebraska is currently spending $34 million of the State General Fund for state disability programs, drug programs for HIV and AID’s patients, prison health and behavioral health programs. Even if Nebraska chooses to direct the full 10% of its share on expansion $22.3 million, the federal government picks up all the other costs for those programs, as well as the other cost of Medicaid expansion in the rest of the state. Moreover, the $34 million is replaced by the $22.3 million nearly reducing state spending by $12 million a year. Thirty four states have already approved this legislation. Maine is the most recent conservative state to approve Medicaid expansion, and they did this over the objection of their Governor, by ballot initiative.

For years the Medicaid Expansion team has been working on passing legislation at the state level that would allow for the state of Nebraska to take advantage of federal subsidies that would expand the Medicaid program. Despite being successful in pushing for the passage of legislation multiple times within the Unicameral, the threat of a veto from the current as well as past governors has caused this process to stall. 

Now, OTOC leaders have shifted their focus to the people of Nebraska. With the July 6th deadlines for signature notarization fast approaching, OTOC leaders have been working hard collecting signatures at local congregations, parades, sporting events, polling stations and outdoor venues. Complementing this, OTOC leaders have taken to their neighborhoods, going door to door to collect signatures for the placement of this important initiative on the ballot. If you are interested in getting a walking list for your neighborhood, email Paul Romero at, OTOC’s summer intern working on this project.

Along with signature collections, the Medicaid Expansion team has been working to inform local congregations of the Medicaid Expansion initiative and also train others to collect signatures themselves. Through these distributed efforts, the Medicaid Expansion team has developed a substantial list of OTOC volunteers working to collect signatures for this initiative.  If you want to be a volunteer to collect signatures in the next few months, email Paul at

As one of the largest coordinated group of volunteers in the state working on this issue, OTOC leaders stand to play a large role in ensuring this measure gets on the ballot and “insuring” the good life for all Nebraskans. Visit Insure the Good Life site to learn more about statewide efforts. 

Want to sign a petition? Email Paul at or call 402-344-4401 to arrange a time for signing. 

Resources and Handouts:

OTOC Medicaid 1 page 

Citations for OTOC Medicaid 1 page

Who’s-in-the-Coverage-Gap-Fact-Sheet- by NE Appleseed

Fact Sheet – About ITGL

Medicaid Expansion- Talking Points

Now its Up to You!

On May 31st at Creighton Preparatory School Omaha Together One Community leaders and members of the Omaha community gather to discuss Medicaid expansion in Nebraska.

The meeting began with an exceptional presentation from OTOC Medicaid Expansion Action Team leaders Mary Spurgeon and Carol LaCroix M.D. The presentation surrounded the ideas behind why Nebraskans should be in support of expanding Medicaid and the ballot initiative movement throughout the state. This ballot initiative would propose an expansion law to the ballot in November, and supporters need to gather 85,000 signatures by July 6.

The ballot initiative movement in Nebraska is strong, and this meeting inspired more individuals to sign and start gathering signatures themselves. Although the movement is strong, we need all the help we can get. If you are interested in hosting an event at your parish please contact Mary Spurgeon at

OTOC leaders speak up about silence from Nebraska Senators and Representatives

May 18th, 2018

Lirio Funes, 20, holds onto her daughter Melissa Funes, 2, just after being detained by local officials after crossing the U.S. — Mexico border on March 15, 2018 in McAllen, Texas.

OTOC Immigration and Refugee Action Team leaders Kathleen Grant and Jeanne Schuler have published an op-ed in the Omaha World Herald calling on Nebraska’s senators and congressional representatives to take action for mothers and children who are facing poor treatment and separation. To read their article in the Omaha World Herald, click here.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Department of Homeland Security admit that the US is separating children from their parents at the border to deter immigrants.  The Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the Office of Refugee Resettlement, has acknowledged there were “approximately 700” children separated from adults at the U.S. border since October, 2017.  Further it states that over 100 of these are less than 4 years old!  Mr. Sessions repeated again on Monday (5.7.2018) that this will continue.

The Department of Homeland Security has ended Temporary Protected Status for almost 60,000 Hondurans. They are now forced to relocate to a country whose murder rate is among the highest in the world.

The Trump Administration has repeatedly vilified the Central American women and their children who are fleeing violence to seek asylum in the U.S.  Surely 200 women and children fleeing violence do not pose a threat to a country of almost 300 million. 

Please consider making calls to our Senators and Congressmen in honor of all mothers this Mother’s Day season:

Senator Deb Fischer  202-224-6551 and 402-391-3411

Senator Ben Sasse 202-224-4224 and  402-550-8040

Representative Jeff Fortenberry 202-225-4806 and 402-727-0888 (some parts of Sarpy County)

Representative Don Bacon 202-225-4155 and 402-938-0300 (Douglas and parts of Sarpy Co)

Ask that Senators Fischer and Sasse and Congressman Bacon and Fortenberry call on the Department of Homeland Security to:

  1. Immediately stop separating children from their parents – and reunite children with family members now!
  2. Treat all asylum seekers according to the United Nations Refugee Accord and U.S. law.

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