Georgian Senators Push for Medicaid Expansion, Republican Says ‘Socialist Medicine’ Policy

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Democratic senators from Georgia promise to keep one of their campaign pledges to expand Medicaid.

“We need to expand Medicaid because people are literally dying, especially the working poor,” Senator Raphael Warnock said.

He recently appeared with Sen. Jon Ossoff and several other senators to say they were working to get a measure to expand Medicaid in the slowly moving reconciliation bill in Congress.

Warnock says up to 600,000 Georgians could benefit from an expansion of the program. He says the pandemic has widened the gap between those who can afford health insurance and those who don’t.

“This pandemic has taught us lessons that we should have learned a long time ago,” said Warnock, “that we are as close to our humanity as a cough.”

Medicaid provides health care benefits to those who qualify based on their income. The program is administered by the state, but receives millions of dollars in federal funding each year.

When the Affordable Care Act was passed over a decade ago, states were urged to cover more people on Medicaid. States were also promised that for a number of years the federal government would pay 100% of the costs to cover the additional people, and then pay 90% thereafter.

But 12 states, including Georgia, refused to expand coverage, saying, on the one hand, that it would ultimately cost states too much.

“Access to health care shouldn’t depend on where you live or who you are,” Ossoff said.

He said Georgia had lost billions of federal money that would have been paid as part of the expansion, and much of that money would have gone to hospitals that provide care to the uninsured.

Instead, Ossoff said, hospitals have always had to treat patients but haven’t received the funding to offset the costs.

“Nine hospitals in Georgia have closed in 11 years,” Ossoff said. “And these hospitals have closed, in large part because our state’s political leaders have refused to expand Medicaid. “

Senators say the only solution is to expand a new federal bill that would provide funding to beneficiaries who need Medicaid.

But Georgia Congressman Buddy Carter, a Republican from District 1, said “this is why reconciliation is so dangerous because they are adding everything to it so that their policies are basically passed and it is nothing. more than another policy “.

Carter says Medicaid was not originally designed to be a massive insurance program, but rather as a safety net for those who need it most.

“Now what they want to do is federalize Medicaid,” Carter said. “It should be held at the state level, it should not be federalized. This is essentially what is happening.

“It’s nothing more than socialist medicine, and that’s what they’re trying to do.”

Carter says the state devised a plan to cover additional people, but would use different financial guidelines than the Affordable Care Act and the state of Georgia had to apply for a waiver for this. . It was granted during the Trump administration but was canceled when President Joe Biden took office.

He says granting the waiver would get more coverage of people, but that wouldn’t be the number that Senators Warnock and Ossoff say needs coverage now.

“We’re going to keep pushing, to make sure that at the end of the day that’s still in the package,” Warnock said.

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