Georgia’s efforts to block Medicaid expansion just got a little bit harder, following the successful expansion of Medicaid in Louisiana this summer.
Conservative leadership in this state has cited cost and concerns that the federal government will back out of its commitment to fund 90 percent of the cost of Medicaid expansion. This would, the argument goes, leave states to either cancel what is proving to be a wildly popular policy — healthcare for all — or pay the full cost. However, no such concerns exist over the billions of dollars Georgia accepts from the federal government every year to fund transportation projects.
And so, Georgia continues to be a Medicaid expansion refuser.
We’re already seen six rural hospitals shut down since Gov. Nathan Deal took office, leaving many communities without any access to emergency care or a local healthcare facility. And Georgia, like much of the rest of the South, performs poorly on metrics of health and wellness — like overall life expectancy, preterm births, and management of chronic illnesses.
But this state’s resistance just got a lot harder to maintain.
Over 265,000 “low-income Louisianans have newly signed up for Medicaid,” since the beginning of August, the LA Times reports. They are the 31st state to expand Medicaid, and the third Southern state.
Not surprisingly, when states do close the coverage gap that denies health insurance to many low income folks, a flood of people come forward looking to manage chronic health conditions, receive care for drug and alcohol abuse, and get routine medical exams.
The LA Times highlights one such story, of a woman who was unable to fill prescriptions to manage her high blood pressure and diabetes because of the out-of-pocket cost.
For Cherry Jackson, a 55-year-old New Orleans native who had been living in a homeless shelter, the Medicaid coverage has helped her get medicines she needs to control her high blood pressure and diabetes.
“Every time my doctor would give me a prescription, I couldn’t pay for it,” Jackson said. “I thank God for this program.”
Georgia still has 300,000 people in the coverage gap — unable to get ACA (Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare) subsidized premiums and unable to get Medicaid.
Predictions have been rolling in that, as more states (and especially more Southern states) expand Medicaid, it will become harder for Georgia to keep saying no. And there are some indications that conservative policymakers are easing their anti-Medicaid expansion stance.
However, this policy game isn’t just about snubbing Obama and stonewalling any efforts by the left to see policy changes. Lives are at stake.