Georgia Chamber pitches conservative-friendly blueprint for Medicaid expansion

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce unveiled what it bills as a conservative-friendly blueprint for Medicaid expansion on Wednesday, outlining a trio of proposals that could offer more coverage to Georgia’s poorest residents under the Affordable Care Act.

A task force deputized by the influential business group cast its options as a starting point for Georgia lawmakers who are preparing for a bruising debate in 2017 over healthcare coverage that could cost less than a wholesale expansion of the program. It calls it the “Georgia Way” – though it spares many crucial details, such as the cost of each option, how it could be financed or how many people it could cover.

Gov. Nathan Deal has long opposed accepting more federal funds to expand Medicaid, saying it will be too costly in the long run. But a growing number of Republicans say it is past time for Georgia to begin accepting tens of billions in federal money to expand coverage to more than 600,000 low-income residents and shore up the struggling network of rural hospitals.

Just how to do that promises to be a main theme of next year’s legislative session. A 2014 law gives the legislative branch authority to expand Medicaid, though Deal would still have to sign off on the changes. So far, state leaders have been holding their cards close to their vests.

“The governor is always open to financially sustainable solutions or ideas to provide healthcare coverage to Georgians, however any action in regards to this report will have to come from the General Assembly,” said Deal spokeswoman Jen Talaber Ryan.

A spokesman for Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle said the Republican is interested in “conservative proposals that would increase our citizen’s access to care and protects the long term viability of Georgia’s rural hospitals.” And House Speaker David Ralston hinted at the difficult conversations to come.

“While we are committed to maintaining access to quality, affordable healthcare in Georgia, we must recognize that there is no easy – or cheap – solution available,” Ralston said.

Supporters of Medicaid expansion rally outside the Georgia GOP convention

Supporters of Medicaid expansion rally outside the Georgia GOP convention

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first option would provide new coverage through the state’s Medicaid program to childless adults who earn less than $11,700 annually – an at-risk population that now falls below the minimum income requirements to receive federal subsidies under the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchange.

The second option would increase eligibility to adults earning up to $16,242, or 138 percent of the federal poverty level, and enroll all beneficiaries up to that income level in the Medicaid program. The third would also increase eligibility to adults earning up to $16,242 but place those who earn above $11,770 in a private insurance plan.

Gov. Nathan Deal at a state Capitol press conference in January. Hyosub Shin, hshin@ajc.com

Gov. Nathan Deal. Hyosub Shin, hshin@ajc.com

“Any of these plans would serve as a game-ready playbook for lawmakers seeking a fiscally responsible and sustainable path to cover Georgia’s uninsured, revitalize a rural healthcare network in crisis and undergird our safety net hospitals,” said Chris Clark, the chamber’s chief executive , in a prepared statement.

The task force did not include cost estimates or other figures for the three plans, but said it would release more data and cost projections before lawmakers convene in January. It also said the three approaches would require special waivers from the federal government.

Clark said he hoped the proposals would kick start a “serious conversation” with Deal and other state officials.

“As our nation continues its debate about the proper role of the federal government in healthcare, we need to focus on the state level on what we can control, under current laws, to keep Georgia’s healthcare network alive and vibrant and our business climate the best in the nation,” he said.

House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, long an outspoken supporter of an expansion, said the report lays out in “stark detail” the need for more healthcare coverage for needy Georgians.

“While the details matter, Democrats are pleased by the thoughtful work evidenced by this report, and we look forward to a robust debate about how and when we move forward to accept the billions in investment available to our state,” she said.

More: Read the Chamber’s proposal here.

More: A $300M boost sought for Georgia’s state health program

More: More Georgia Republicans push to expand Medicaid in 2017

More: Hanging on the presidential race is a renewed debate over Obamacare in Georgia

 

Reader Comments 0

26 comments
Grace Wood
Grace Wood

For Georgia legal people only,we need the help,get rid of the individual in the local DF first.

Sheila Shook
Sheila Shook

Expanding Medicaid would be more of the same, socialism...

Fred South
Fred South

Put people to work instead of finding ways to pay them for staying home making babies!!

Bonnie Martin
Bonnie Martin

I just want to know how it's going to be funded after the Federal money goes away.

Bea Kyles
Bea Kyles

There is no free lunch. Never was.

Liz Bracey
Liz Bracey

This is about healthcare, dear. So keep up.

Alice Bracewell
Alice Bracewell

Of course there is no free lunch. But there is unreasonably expensive, bad lunch vs a good lunch for a reasonable price.

Bea Kyles
Bea Kyles

Liz Bracey There is no such thing as "free" healthcare. Taxpayers still have to pay for it-whether they benefit from it or not!!!

Norma Wilborn
Norma Wilborn

For everywhere but rural counties where it's needed most. Most of that expansion will go to immigrants.

Faye Carpenter Dotson
Faye Carpenter Dotson

Nope...just a ploy 4 the fall elections. They have no real intention whatsoever

Sheila Shook
Sheila Shook

Not going to happen!!! Georgia is a red state!!!!

Steve Morris
Steve Morris

Taxpayers are going broke in case you haven't noticed. Democrats are for free stuff.

Daniel Eason
Daniel Eason

A change to the ACA would more depend on which party controls the next congress, and whether that congress is split, and whether the next senate is controlled by a super majority (that won't happen for the GOP, and probably not for the Democrats).

Barry Cooper
Barry Cooper

Dingbat Care is falling apart on its own. If the gangster Queen is annointed America will follow.

Chad Kesegi
Chad Kesegi

Barry Cooper - Dingbat Care? Did it take you all night to cook up that piping hot zinger?

Barry Cooper
Barry Cooper

Chad Kesegi Zingers are good because they are honest as in 'call them the way you see them'.

Chad Kesegi
Chad Kesegi

Barry Cooper - Is that your canned excuse for lacking in imagination other than hyperbolic visions of a future hellscape?

David Matheny
David Matheny

GOP wants to put its brand on it so they can gain the Political Advantage out of it...meanwhile, with each year that passes by, less and less of OUR Taxpayer Dollars will be sent to our State for this Expansion.

Daniel Eason
Daniel Eason

It makes sense to those who know the subject.

Chad Kesegi
Chad Kesegi

Harry K. James - Glynn County schools did me well. So what's your excuse?