The Effect Of Georgia Opting Out Of Medicaid Expansion
The purpose of this research paper is to examine the effect of Georgia opting out of Medicaid expansion. I plan to focus on the impact of Georgia’s decision not to participate in the Affordable Care Act by not provided Medicaid to approximately 650,000 residents and how this decision affects low-income residents and public hospitals. In March of 2010, President Barack Obama enacted the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, to make health insurance more accessible and more affordable to all Americans. When Barack Obama became president in 2009, 45 million Americans were uninsured. A growing number of American employers had cut insurance from their benefits. The ever-increasing cost of medical care became a leading cause of personal bankruptcies, foreclosures, and family crises. So, Obama made health care reform his chief mission. Just one month after his inauguration, Obama delivered a speech to Congress announcing his administration’s push for reform. Even though Obama and his fellow Democrats controlled Congress and the White House, the reform efforts were delayed, as members of Congress debated how much of a role the government should have in health care. After many compromises, the ACA finally made it through Congress, and Obama signed the new law in 2010. The immediate goals of the ACA were to make health insurance available to more people, while also making health care cheaper and expanding the Medicaid program. For the last six years, Georgia’s republican’s leadership has refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Georgia’s republicans proposed a bill that would authorize the state to request federal money for health care and health insurance under a tangle of federal laws, including Obamacare. The bill does not permit a request for Medicaid expansion, and Democrats argue that the legislation is not enough because it would cover fewer than half the people who could benefit from Medicaid expansion. But Republican feels that federal Medicaid expansion would still come with an unknown price tag. Their alternative is to let the state custom design its health care plan while paying for it with federal money. This bill won by a party-line vote in the Senate, and Governor Kemp declared a partial victory. Georgia’s decision not to participate in Medicaid expansion is having a severe effect on the financial health of hospitals. Some hospitals, such as Grady Memorial Hospital may end up in the red as a result of Georgia failing to expand Medicaid, and the cuts are growing each year, so the projection of this problem is expecting to keep growing over time.
Georgia ranks 5th in the country for having the most uninsured residents, which put the state in a healthcare crisis. Georgia’s hospitals are closing, and working people do not have access to care. Now, over 600,000 citizens in Georgia do not have health care through Medicaid expansion. However, Georgia’s state legislature has passed a terrible bill house bill 990 that would remove the authority to expand Medicaid from the Governor to the state legislature, and the end goal was to make sure Medicaid never expand. This decision is part of a long and ridiculous political game; it is a game for some, but it is a matter of life and death for 600,000 Georgians who do not have health care. I think Georgians should get legislation to make the governor veto house bill 990 and expand Medicaid. Not only do I feel it is immoral to reject Medicaid expansion, it’s also isn’t logical. There are moral and economic cases to be made for accepting the expansion by taking the cost from the federal government who is willing to pay 100% of participants healthcare cost for the first couple years and then scale back to 90% of the cost leaving the state of Georgia only responsible for 10% of the cost. 10% is a small price to pay when the expansion of Medicaid projects to generate $65 billion in new economic activities, which will create about 56,000 new jobs over ten years. In my opinion, Medicaid expansion is good news for the working poor, residents in rural areas, and the entire state.
Republicans are forcing hospitals to close their doors, for example, lower Oconee Community Hospital in Glenwood Georgia had to shut their doors for good. The facility was struggling with finances for years, and the hospital had to layoff almost 100 employees due to strained resources. The Republicans refuse to take Medicaid money from the federal government for hospitals to pay for uninsured citizens. Oconee Community Hospital, like many other hospitals throughout the state, was banking on the Affordable Care Act for help because a law was passed back during the Reagan administration stated that hospitals had to accept patients and emergency rooms regardless of their ability to pay. This law created an enormous expense for hospitals, particularly in areas where there are a lot of uninsured people. This law is a substantial statewide problem, and Georgia’s Republicans have done everything they can to make sure Obamacare would not help residents of Georgia. Georgia, along with other Republican lawmakers in 25 different states across the country, have blocked the Obamacare Medicaid expansion. Medicaid expansion is significant to the public and rural hospitals because it is the lifeline; they need to stay open by turning many of their uninsured patients into paying patients. Unfortunately, former Georgia governor Nathan Deal and other peach state Republicans have decided it’s essential to sabotage President Obama’s signature achievement than it is to help the people who put them into office. There refusal to expand Medicaid as many as 15 Georgia hospitals are at risk of closing permanently, which affects residents because they have to find a new way to see a doctor, and commute longer distances to receive medical care. Closing of the hospitals has affected workers as well because it displaces too. They are making commutes to work longer, which in turn can cost them more money in traveling, expenses for their family such as daycare sitters, and time away from their family. The republicans made a massive argument that a tiny portion of residents has to change their healthcare plans forcefully. Still, their effort to sabotage ACA is forcing Americans to lose hospitals, and I hope they reverse what they have done and support Medicaid expansion.
Overall, I discussed the Affordable Care Act and the trials and tribulations the Obama administration went through to get the bill passed, so all Americans are insured and have access to health care. I briefly covered the Supreme Court decision to make it law that the state decides to participate in Medicaid expansion. Because Georgia is one of the 25 states that refuse to expand Medicaid, I explained the consequences that decision has on the residents and the hospitals throughout the state. Now my final thoughts, is it a possibility that Georgia will change course and opt into expanding Medicaid? I think soon Georgia will participate in Medicaid expansion to save hospitals and to create access to health insurance for half a million Georgians, help thousands of veterans and military families. Medicaid expansions protect rural communities that are watching themselves wither away because their hospitals are shutting down, which is unacceptable. The state of Georgia has access to the money needed to solve the problem of providing medical insurance to more citizens. Hundreds of thousands of Georgia residents make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but too little can afford health insurance. They fall into what’s called a coverage gap, and expanding Medicaid, would fix this problem and give nearly 500,000 Georgians access to healthcare. No resident of Georgia should have to fear financial ruin to get health care or pay medical bills. No child should have to go uninsured. Yet, every year Georgia rejects Medicaid expansion loses three billion dollars meant to pay for health care coverage. That’s money that can help to keep rural hospitals open, create jobs, expand access to mental health care and substance abuse treatments, and reduce the alarmingly high maternal and infant mortality rates. Medicaid expansion helps all people, regardless of their age, race, political thoughts, religion, gender, and background. The residents of Georgia want Medicaid expansion, and eventually, the people, in my opinion, will force the Governor to make a change.