Georgia House Republicans Want to Block Gov. Deal from Expanding Medicaid
(APN) ATLANTA — House Republicans are pushing new legislation to give the Legislature a say over whether the State of Georgia will accept federal funding to expand Medicaid in Georgia.
Medicaid expansion has been a hot issue, with Sen. Jason Carter (D-Decatur), the presumptive Democratic nominee for Governor, having criticized Gov. Nathan Deal for refusing to expand Medicaid thus far in Georgia; and with several Moral Monday activists having gone to jail earlier this year after refusing to leave Deal’s office without discussing Medicaid expansion.
Some believe that Deal will eventually expand Medicaid, but is holding out to see how many concessions he can get from the federal government, as well as to throw so much red meat to his right-wing Republican base.
HB 990, however, would prevent Deal from expanding Medicaid without permission from the Republican-led Georgia House and Senate.
According to its caption, it would “prohibit the expansion of Medicaid eligibility through an increase in the income threshold without prior legislative approval.”
Some 650,000 Georgians would gain access to Medicaid if Georgia were to accept federal funding.
HB 990 was introduced on February 11, 2014, by State Rep. Jan Jones (R-Milton), Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge), and Reps. Larry O’Neal (R-Bonaire), Chad Zimmer (R-Blackshear), and Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City).
“I believe this is a cover for Deal, absolutely,” State Senator Vincent Fort (D) told Atlanta Progressive News.
Deal cannot afford to lose the votes of those who do not support the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, but do support Medicaid expansion, this this year’s General Election.
According to a poll commissioned by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper and published in January 2014, 57 percent of Georgians support expanding Medicaid, while only 39 percent are opposed.
Therefore, it is good to have friends like Ralston and Jones, who, by introducing HB 990, apparently seek to take the burden of the issue out of Deal’s lap, only to give it to their friends on the House floor.
Deal could seem less responsible for it, even while Medicaid expansion would surely stagnate, if HB 990 passes.
Medicaid expansion would create 70,000 jobs statewide, advocates say, an economic impact that would more than pay for the four billion dollars Georgia would have to pay over ten years to match the generous federal funds available.
“Where do you come up with half a billion dollars?” Jones said to the AJC recently, referring to the estimated cost for one year. “To raise the taxes sufficient to cover that would require a vote of the Legislature. That’s why the Governor supports it [HB 990].”