Half a million Georgians would gain health insurance coverage if this state expanded Medicaid in 2017. That makes up about 10 percent of the nation’s uninsured, ranking just behind Texas and Florida.
Expanding Medicaid, however hard a battle it’s been, is just the beginning in the fight to make sure ALL people have meaningful access to health care (and not just health insurance).
Georgia has too few health care providers — especially primary care doctors, specialists like OB/GYNs, and mental health professionals — to meet the current needs of citizens, let alone to deal with aging baby boomers. While the legislature has studied this ad nauseam since at least 2007, little progress has been made on reversing this trend.
Georgia’s large refugee and immigrant populations also need access to culturally competent care, with medical interpreters (who specialize in dealing with medical settings) available at every doctor’s appointment.
Rural hospitals and related infrastructure need to be supported, to ensure rural Georgians have access to health care facilities. Location should not determine if a heart attack or car accident kills you, or just leaves you with a few scars.
Smart reproductive healthcare and education is a must, and these issues can’t just be used as a political tool for scoring votes with the self-righteous right. This includes access to family planning (and comprehensive sex ed), robust access to health care before, during, and after a pregnancy, and access to abortion care. Yes, accessing abortions are unequivocally critical and necessary for the mental and physical wellness of women.
Additional barriers, like lack of access to high quality child care can make it difficult for parents to actually utilize the health care system for themselves, while inadequate family leave policies can make it difficult for parents to utilize the health care system for their kids.
LGBTQIA+ folks (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual), the elderly, those living with chronic illness and disability, and undocumented folks all deserve health care that is accessible, sustainable, affordable, and sensitive, because healthcare is a human right.
Delivering on anything less is failure of leadership that results in unnecessary deaths and heartaches (and loss of economic productivity, if you want to talk that game). Ourselves, our families and our communities deserve to have all their human rights respected. Medicaid expansion is just the beginning in the fight for health care for all.
Readers, what else completes the picture for you in making sure “health care for all” can become a reality in Georgia?
Thanks to Betty Anderson Dworschak for suggesting this topic after Better Georgia put out the question about which issues the blog should cover.