Health Care

More | | | Editor

Expand Medicaid, Georgia lawmakers urged

Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013 8:24 AM
Last updated 6:15 PM
  • Follow Government

ATLANTA — Legislators should reverse the governor’s decision and expand Medicaid after all, according to a dozen representatives of hospitals, nursing homes and physician groups testifying Monday.

Maggie Gill, president of Memorial Health in Savannah, told a temporary committee of lawmakers and gubernatorial appointees that the federal Affordable Care Act known as “Obamacare” was designed with the expectation that every state would expand Medicaid to cover people with higher incomes. By not expanding it, an estimated 600,000 Georgians will earn too little to buy taxpayer-subsidized insurance through health exchanges but too much to qualify for Medicaid.

Since Congress expected states to expand Medicaid, it is eliminating indigent-care payments to hospitals like Memorial that treat mostly uninsured patients. That will grow to a $20 million annual gap between the cost of treating them and what Memorial expects to receive by 2018.

“I guess the bottom line is if we don’t expand Medicaid and they cut the (hospitals’ federal subsidy) that are baked into the cake of the Affordable Care Act continue to go through, we’re giving up current funding, and we’re giving up future funding,” she said. “We’re putting hospitals like Memorial and other safety nets in a very tight spot.”

Small, rural hospitals are also in a pinch, according to H.D. Cannington, who was the CEO of Charlton Regional Hospital in Folkston until it closed last summer. It is one of three that closed this year, but as many as 20 are predicted to close in the next five years.

He recounted how just before the close, the hospital’s emergency room saved the lives of a mother and baby involved in a wreck. Then after the close, a woman suffered in the pain of being burned in an all-terrain-vehicle accident for 90 minutes while an ambulance transported her to a hospital in another town.

“Rural Georgians need rural healthcare,” he said. “Anything you guys can do would be appreciated.”

Dr. Jacqueline Fincher, who practices in Thomson, presented a more emphatic appeal.

“No. 1, you can be a hero by saving lives. No. 2, you can be a hero to the business community and expand economic development in Georgia, and No. 3, you can be a hero by finding a win-win solution for the state of Georgia,” said Fincher, the past governor of the 3,000-member Georgia Chapter of the American College of Physicians.

She urged the legislature to adopt Arkansas’ approach to Medicaid expansion in which the newly qualified are given taxpayer money to buy insurance from private companies on the health exchange rather than being covered by the state’s government-run plan.

Other witnesses had their own prescription, such as providing more coverage for mental-health treatment, paying off more of doctors’ student loans to convince them to work in rural areas, training more midwifes, funding clinics where doctors and nurses volunteer, and offering incentives to providers for better patient outcomes.

The committee members listened quietly because they had heard others make the same proposals. They really are hoping to find a lower-cost solution. State leaders are reluctant to expand Medicaid because they fear Congress’ budget cutting will leave the state having to pay most of the costs sometime in the future.

The committee will probably have another meeting or two before it writes a report for the governor and the legislature to consider when the General Assembly meets Jan. 13.

In the meantime, the committee members offered no clues Monday about what they will recommend.

Comments (10) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Little Lamb
47042
Points
Little Lamb 11/19/13 - 11:13 am
6
1
No, No, No

Georgia Legislature was correct in not falling into the ACA trap of expanding Medicaid eligibility. The expanded costs will be high, and taxpayers have been taxed enough already.

Medicaid is supposed to be for poor people. If you expand eligibility into the middle class, there will be continued upward pressure.

They are never satisfied.

kissofdeath
423
Points
kissofdeath 11/19/13 - 12:15 pm
2
5
Election is just around

Election is just around corner and let's vote Georgia Governor Nathan Deal out of office. If Republican governors would just allow their states to expand Medicaid for the poor people under the Affordable Care Act, over 5 million uninsured people could get health insurance . Yet 13 Republican governors are refusing to help people in their states get insured.

Little Lamb
47042
Points
Little Lamb 11/19/13 - 01:26 pm
2
1
Wrong

Your premise is wrong, Kissofdeath. Poor people are already covered under Medicaid. The expansion of Medicaid eligibility is not for poor people, but it is to expand to include families making up to $95,000 a year in income (no matter what their total wealth is).

Thus, the expansion is to provide subsidies to people who don't really need subsidies. It is to get this new set of well-off people (middle class) to get used to government subsidies. It is to expand entitlements — the very thing that has the United States financial picture in a precarious position.

We don't need more subsidies. We need less.

Little Lamb is on record calling for reduction in Medicaid eligibility — for a reduction in food stamps eligibility — for an end to the WIC program — for an end to SSI.

Little Lamb
47042
Points
Little Lamb 11/19/13 - 01:26 pm
1
0
To be fair

To be fair, I am also against corporate subsidies, including energy subsidies and farm subsidies.

prov227
3279
Points
prov227 11/19/13 - 01:27 pm
1
1
Unintended consequences ...

unfortunately, the poorly designed and misunderstood ACA (aka, ObamaCare) isn't the answer. Doctors and hospitals need to realize that their formerly paying patients with adequate health insurance plans are being forced out of insurance plans when their premium doubles, as ours has and will become self paying patients. Physicians and hospitals will find themselves heavily discounting their self-pay patients. I do agree that rural, or smaller municipality hospitals will need financial assistance or become "basic services/stabilization" satellites of larger hospital/medical centers. Most rural/small city hospitals owe their existence to Hill-Burton grants given in the 1950s. However, they can't continue in business on Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements and rural physician shortages. Commercial insurance payments have also declined sharply. Medicare and Medicaid can often be 70% or more of a rural hospital's reimbursement.

Sweet son
10753
Points
Sweet son 11/19/13 - 02:55 pm
2
1
@Little Lamb

Your comment was mine verbatim before I even got to the comments! NO NO NO!!!

Just more entitlement!!!!!

mybaskett
231
Points
mybaskett 11/19/13 - 03:10 pm
2
1
Kiss of Death it's not that easy.

It's not as easy as just allow them to enroll in Medicaid. Who's paying for it? The Government has promised money to those states that expanded Medicaid for only a few years. Once the Gov. stops paying, who will be responsible? The states. We can't afford it. Georgia made the right decision.

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 11/19/13 - 05:09 pm
0
0
I guess
Unpublished

the people living on Laney-Walker blvd. are going to spring for the additional funds needed to expand Medicaid.

kissofdeath
423
Points
kissofdeath 11/19/13 - 06:25 pm
1
4
Let's be crystal clear.

The Affordable Care Act will help millions of Americans who've been locked out of the insurance market. We can't go back on a law that stops insurance companies from denying people with pre- existing conditions, that prevents the bankruptcy of cancer survivors by ending lifetime caps on coverage, and that no longer forces women to pay double for the same care men get. No one is saying our work done. Far from it. Medicare for all or a Public Option is a must if we want fundamental change,but if Republicans and for - profit insurance companies succeed at destroying the gains we've made, it"ll be a huge step backwards that could kill chances to move reform forward decades.

fedex227
11187
Points
fedex227 11/19/13 - 06:56 pm
2
3
For many it's not the argument about/or ...
Unpublished

on which side you fall with regard to the ACA and expansion of medicaid - it's the pure hypocrisy coming from the right ...

http://www.forbes.com/2009/11/19/republican-budget-hypocrisy-health-care...

http://old.chronicle.augusta.com/stories/2005/12/13/met_32402.shtml

allhans
24050
Points
allhans 11/19/13 - 08:26 pm
2
1
Two of my sisters died from

Two of my sisters died from cancer, neither were denied coverage by their insurance company. Much is being made about a cap on insurance that is an exception - not the rule.

Bodhisattva
6474
Points
Bodhisattva 11/20/13 - 06:21 am
0
3
Where in the heck do right wingers get their info?
Unpublished

For the Medicaid expansion to reach $95,000, a 2 parent family would have to have at least 14 kids. The Medicaid expansion goes up to 138% of poverty level. I just checked a Medicaid chart and 133% of poverty level for a family of 16 is $95,484. Bodhisattva is on record for people to know what they are talking about before they post and for this country to have a safety net and have food stamps for the poor and disability insurance for the disabled. I don't see how anyone could be so heartless as to have the disabled starving, homeless, and dying in the streets or have children go hungry. WWJD? I call for an end to farm subsidies and corporate welfare. Record profits, often by hook and crook. They don't need them. The MID is rife with fraud, waste, and cronyism. Cut it to the bone and stop policing and bullying the world. Call for and end to write offs and offshoring for corporations and a return to a more progressive tax system. A good idea would be one where people are taxed on wealth, not income. The Walton clan can then pay their due instead of relying on the government to take care of their underpaid employees. Just the wealth of the 6 of them will equal the taxes of the bottom 40% of Americans. Then we'll have a more just and equal society.

LillyfromtheMills
13977
Points
LillyfromtheMills 11/20/13 - 08:28 am
0
0
Bod

Just because so many things are screwed up, you want to screw the country with the ACA now - another wrong? That makes no sense -

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs