Georgia Democratic Candidate for Governor Stacey Abrams recently nailed it when she said: “the expansion of Medicaid would have an impact on everything we do.” Georgia Democrats have been pushing for Medicaid expansion. Both Democratic candidates for Governor have made expanding Medicaid a top priority. Despite support for Medicaid Expansion statewide, few Republicans have been willing to express public support for the measure.
Last session members of the Georgia House Democratic Caucus along with their Senate counterparts announced a significant push for Medicaid Expansion. During a press conference, House Minority Leader Representative Bob Trammel cited an Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll indicated that 75% of Georgia voters supported Medicaid. Trammel further explained that closing the coverage gap would reduce the uninsured rate by half.
"We've got the money. The question is, do we have the priority?"
— Falak Hindash (@Hindash13) January 25, 2018
Describing the coverage gap, Representative Deborah Gonzalez explained that there are 240,000 Georgians who make more than $6,000 annually but are not eligible for health care subsidies as they earn less than $15,930. Representative Kimberly Alexander explained that expanding Medicaid would help improve mental health and substance use treatment. According to Alexander, between 2001 and 2015 there was a 360% increase in opioid deaths. It is estimated that 25% of uninsured Georgians are in need of mental health and substance abuse treatment.
Many people across the country have stories about how their families have been either saved by having access to insurance or how they have suffered due to the lack of health insurance. In our family, we have both benefited from the blessing of good coverage when my father was diagnosed with Cancer, and we have experienced the frustration of inadequate treatment from relying on an overburdened system at Grady in care for my youngest sister.
In February, I had the misfortune of spending 14 hours in the emergency room with my sister only for her to be sent home with a Motrin. She had juvenile idiopathic arthritis and had been on a waiting list over six months to see a rheumatologist. While waiting, we met a woman who suspected she had an upper respiratory infection. She worked full time, making $8.50 an hour and reported having insurance with a very high premium. Even still she found herself in the long wait at Grady in hopes of avoiding an asthma attack.
Medicaid Expansion is one of the few issues that genuinely unites Georgians. Building the organization and support to not only win but improve the lives of all Georgians must include Medicaid Expansion as a priority. Reaching voters across the working class regardless of background starts by addressing issues that directly affect our lives.
Expanding Medicaid would also help address the problem of uncompensated care cost. Closing the coverage gap would significantly reduce uncompensated care costs borne by hospitals across the state.