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Georgia, South Carolina not expanding Medicaid

Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013 3:55 PM
Last updated Thursday, July 11, 2013 2:05 PM
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Working full time and yet not being able to afford health insurance coverage literally sticks in Kathryn Playford’s throat.

Neither Kathryn Playford nor her husband can afford insurance, and she needs surgery for an enlarged thyroid.  TODD BENNETT/STAFF
TODD BENNETT/STAFF
Neither Kathryn Playford nor her husband can afford insurance, and she needs surgery for an enlarged thyroid.

The office manager for a self-storage facility and office park in North Augusta says she has put off surgery for an enlarged thyroid for years because she lacks health care coverage.

“Eventually, it may enlarge to the point where I can’t breathe,” Playford said.

The governors of Georgia and South Carolina have decided not to expand Medicaid coverage to more uninsured despite high rates of working families with no coverage.

In South Carolina, nearly half of the 766,304 uninsured, or 359,107, are working and 19.3 percent of people employed in the state lack insurance, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey 2011.

In Georgia, 22.7 percent of the employed lack health insurance, and working families make up 48.3 percent of the uninsured.

The states turned down the expansion under the Affordable Care Act despite the fact that it would be fully funded for the first three years and would not dip below 90 percent federally funded in subsequent years.

In Georgia, the expansion would offer Medicaid coverage for individuals making nearly $16,000 a year and for families of four making around $32,000 a year. Within that adult population, 50.6 percent are uninsured, according to Census data.

“I would argue that those are the people that are really getting the burden of the state not investing more of its state dollars” in Medicaid, said Tim Sweeney, the director of health policy for the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute.

Advocates in a coalition called Cover Georgia will gather Tuesday at the state Capitol to rally for the state to reconsider Medicaid expansion.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has said the state cannot afford it and that the federal government might not be able to continue funding it in the future.

As Georgia Medi­caid’s budget has grown since 2009, the state has used other means to cover it.

The Medicaid budget has grown 18.5 percent from fiscal year 2009 to the proposed budget for fiscal year 2014 of $2.76 billion. In that time, the amount of taxpayer dollars coming from the general funds has increased less than 4 percent while fees from hospitals, nursing homes and a sizable chunk from the state’s share of the tobacco settlement has more than doubled to cover the difference, according to Cover Georgia.

Even the amount budgeted for next year in Georgia is likely to be about $150 million short of what is needed, particularly when the health care mandate kicks in Jan. 1, the analysis shows. That could lead to 120,000 Georgians joining the Medicaid rolls at an additional cost of $70.9 million, which is not accounted for in the budget, the analysis found.

South Carolina is no better at covering working adults, Playford said. At one point, she saved $5,000 to help cover her surgery only to find out that even with a steep discount it would cost $20,000. Meanwhile, she has been receiving care through Christ Community Health Services in Augusta.

“The people at Christ Com­mu­nity have made it easy for us,” she said. At one point she looked into whether she could qualify for Medicaid, but her income was too much.

“I would have to make pretty much nothing” to qualify, Playford said, even with a family of six.

Jeffery Young knows how she feels. In his first couple of years in Augusta, he was without health insurance and relied on Christ Community. Now, he is able to get coverage as a firefighter with Martinez-Co­lum­bia Fire Rescue.

Having that insurance is “a huge comfort,” he said, after putting off dealing with health issues that could have been serious, including a blood clot.

“You hope and you pray that nothing is going to happen to you because if it does, how am I going to pay for that?” he said.

To Sweeney, the states’ rejection of Medicaid money could have a double impact.

“That is going to be money that goes right into the economy, right into the provider community,” he said. “And that also is going to benefit the individuals a great deal as they are going to be healthier.”

Staff Writer Sandy Hodson contributed to this report.

WHERE STATES STAND

A look at how states stand on expanding eligibility for their Medicaid program, according to the Daily Briefing and American Health Line:

OPPOSED: Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas

APPEAR OPPOSED:
Iowa, Nebraska, New Jersey, Virginia, Wyoming

LEANING TOWARD: Kentucky, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon

PARTICIPATING: Arkansas; Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington

UNCLEAR: Alaska, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin

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Gopher
34
Points
Gopher 02/17/13 - 11:14 am
1
1
The price you pay for being a

The price you pay for being a resident of a state with nothing but bullheaded one minded polititions.
With them refuseing federal money, only the low income documented non resident will recive Medicare.
Look into it people, thats the deal.

soapy_725
43772
Points
soapy_725 02/17/13 - 11:21 am
1
0
Career path choices.
Unpublished

Make the wrong ones and you suffer. Your family will suffer as well. Education, stable family life style, stable employment history, thrift, budgeting, law abiding citizen are all paths to success. Education is the foundation to acquiring and keeping a "real job", as the kids say. McD's is not a real job. Teaching, manufacturing management, manufacturing, all medical fields, self employed businesses are all paths to success. They take time and planning. Employees at Federal Paper di not magically become successful. A lot of work, a lot of years and dedication was necessary.

You want to make $25/hr + , fully funded benefits and retirement, plan and stay the course. Grow up and be an adult.

Fifty years ago Butler HS kids may have worked at Kelly's Hamburger but that ended with their diploma. They were off to college and degrees or into manufacturing or skill trades or utilities jobs. Education, Planning and Stability.

For all of the "career counselors" in today's public education system, the results are pathetic. Who is teaching that you can be a productive adult flipping burgers? The only jobs available if you do become a rock star or pro athlete. Sad state of affairs. Created by the STATE.

soapy_725
43772
Points
soapy_725 02/17/13 - 11:26 am
1
0
Get out of the world of Peter Pan.....
Unpublished

Grow up. Santa Claus is not real. And God Almighty is definitely not the incarnation of Santa Claus. Life is what you make it. It is difficult.

The nanny state is a damnable lie. It will not provide all of your needs or guarantee you health or life everlasting.

historylover
11384
Points
historylover 02/17/13 - 06:08 pm
0
0
Insure Everyone!

First of all Gopher many people receive Medicaid not just the non- residents as you put it. We have to have affordable insurance not more entitlement.

carcraft
27139
Points
carcraft 02/17/13 - 08:44 pm
0
2
When DC is broke will they

When DC is broke will they still pay the 90%? SC is already having trouble covering expenses. Obama care had doubled in cost according to CBO estimates and isn't fully implemented. States that haven't bought into Obama's snake oil my look really smart in a few years. The program for insurance coverage for people with pre-existing illness is running out of moneyand not going to take any more into the system leaving millions uninsured! Obama care is pure hype and the economic reality is starting to set in!

Truth Matters
7217
Points
Truth Matters 02/17/13 - 09:16 pm
1
0
Healthcare

My healthcare cost has not gone up; in fact it is lower. Do I blame or thank care?

Truth Matters
7217
Points
Truth Matters 02/17/13 - 09:18 pm
0
0
Correction

That should read Obamacare, not "care."

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 02/18/13 - 05:20 am
0
0
CBO comment:

"For the provisions of the Affordable Care Act related to health insurance coverage, CBO and JCT’s latest estimates are quite similar to the estimates we released when the legislation was being considered in March 2010. The following figure shows CBO and JCT’s projections of the effects of the ACA on the number of people who will be uninsured or will receive insurance coverage through employer-sponsored insurance (ESI), insurance exchanges, or Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Although the latest projections extend the original ones by three years (corresponding to the shift in the regular 10-year projection period since the ACA was first being developed), the projections for each given year have changed little, on net, since March 2010."

For those who prefer more than the Faux "news" version. CBO projections have changed very little. Faux and the GOP are trying to play with the numbers. The costs have increased in the 10 year projection because we are more years into the programs and more parts are taking effect. The CBO accounted for these changes and costs are still along the lines of the CBO's original estimates. Nice try though.

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 02/18/13 - 06:47 am
1
0
Somehow Georgia did manage to

Somehow Georgia did manage to find a $170 million dollar give away (with almost no accountability) to private schools. Evidently it's more important for tax money to go for little Johnny to learn that man rode around on dinosaurs than it is to make sure little Johnny is healthy.

avidreader
3377
Points
avidreader 02/18/13 - 11:24 am
0
1
It's Sad!

This entire situation is sad; however, Georgia's constitution requires a balanced budget. The citizens of Georgia need to hold their representatives accountable to appropriate available funds for the most important matters and quit wasting it on pork projects and other uninspiring programs.

Many people still believe that the federal government is a running faucet of cash that will continue to flow endlessly. Gov. Deal and his government are worried that "the state cannot afford it and that the federal government might not be able to continue funding it in the future." This is something HUGE to worry about. Obama will be gone in less than four years and if another Santa Claus is not elected, then there's a strong possibility that sovereign states will be left to fend for themselves (which I believe is a wise choice).

I am truly a proponent of health care for all, but we cannot allow the inept federal government to devise this plan. Each state has to take care of its own citizens in a manner that is fitting and moral. It can be done if the voters are willing to hold their representatives accountable. I would be willing to take an additional tax increase if that portion goes directly to health care and is not blended with the general fund.

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