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Affordable Care Act

J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

As U.S. House Republican leaders scrambled to win enough votes to pass their plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), Georgia's Republican officeholders were still trying to find out how the plan would affect the state – especially its Medicaid program.  

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The House Republican healthcare plan has been met with derision and skepticism from politicians and the public alike.
J. Scott Applewhite, File / Associated Press

Top Georgia Republicans so far have been fairly quiet about the plan from U.S. House Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (also called Obamacare).

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J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

Wednesday on "Closer Look with Rose Scott and Jim Burress":

Deal Supports Alternative To ACA … If It’s Fair To Georgia

Mar 15, 2017
In this June 2, 2015 file photo, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal speaks to reporters following a ceremony announcing a $300 million expansion of Google's data center operations in Lithia Springs, Ga.
David Goldman / Associated Press

Gov. Nathan Deal said Tuesday that he supports congressional Republicans’ efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but also said he wants more details on the GOP plan to replace the law -- and its potential effects on Georgia.

 

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Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press

The Republican health care bill under consideration in the House of Representatives would change health coverage for a lot of people.

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It would no longer require that Americans buy health insurance, for instance, and it would eliminate current subsidies, replacing them with a fixed refundable tax credit.

Branden Camp / Associated Press file

At the state Capitol in Atlanta, and in the nation's capital, it was a busy week, to say the least.  

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U.S. House Republicans unveiled their plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act; Georgia Republican Gov. Nathan Deal said he might look at a revised version of the "campus carry" bill he vetoed last year; and a stampede of candidates from both parties charged into the final weeks of campaigning for the 6th District U.S. House seat.

ELLY YU / WABE

On a recent afternoon, the emergency room at Irwin County Hospital is empty except for one patient. He’s propped up on a bed and strapped to a machine that monitors his heart rate. Nurse Jason Baxley works the shift.  

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“Our ER is not very large. It’s only four exam rooms, a cardiac room and trauma room,” Baxley said.

branden camp / associated press file

A proposal to replace the Obama health care law would cut out a pillar of funding for the nation's lead public health agency, and experts say that would likely curtail programs across the country to prevent problems like lead poisoning and hospital infections.

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J. Scott Applewhite / AP

WASHINGTON—Determined House Republicans won early victories Thursday on divisive legislation to undo former President Barack Obama's health care law, winning approval in key committees after marathon all-night sessions despite Democratic protests and intense opposition from doctors and consumer groups.

U.S. House Republican leaders have launched a drive to push their new healthcare bill through House committees.  

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The measure, which would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), has run into pushback from some Republicans who claim it doesn't go far enough.  

''Save My Care'' is a national, two month, cross-country bus tour protesting the possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act. It stopped in front of the Georgia Capitol on Feb. 20, 2017.
Al Such / WABE

Keeping the Affordable Care Act was the focus of a rally in Atlanta Monday that drew more than 200 people to Liberty Plaza in front of the state Capitol.

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It was part of “Save My Care," a national, two month, cross-country bus tour protesting the possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). 

At the rally, Georgia residents shared stories of near-death experiences and surviving cancer.

Al Such / WABE

As if the dizzying rush of events in Washington were not enough, Atlanta area politics have gone through a frenzied week, too.  

Mayor Kasim Reed held a news conference and released more than a million pages of documents relating to the City Hall bribery scandal; airport officials tried to assess the possible impact of President Donald Trump's travel order (if it's upheld by the courts); and gun rights advocates brought "campus carry" legislation back to the State Capitol.

ANDREW HARNIK / ASSOCIATED PRESS

More than 9.2 million Americans are covered by the Affordable Care Act this year, about 500,000 less than in 2016.

Georgia is among the states where enrollment declined.

Nearly 494,000 Georgians signed up for Affordable Care Act in 2017.

That's a 16-percent drop from the previous year, according to Georgia Health News.

Most of the enrollees — about 378,000 people — are from Metro Atlanta.

Atlanta Regional Commission

As the new Republican federal administration digs into the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, many Georgians are left unsure about the future of their health insurance.

Price Tries To Reassure On Health Care; Dems Not Buying It

Jan 18, 2017
Health and Human Services Secretary-designate, Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., pauses while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Offering reassurances, President-elect Donald Trump's pick for health secretary said Wednesday the new administration won't "pull the rug out" from those covered by "Obamacare." Democrats were unimpressed, noting a lack of specifics.

In this Jan. 5, 2016, file Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington.
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File

Carla Dent is a restaurant owner who steers her employees to federal health insurance exchanges. Eden Purdy helps poor and working-class Georgians navigate the health care marketplace. Bryson Boech is a grocery cashier recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, what the insurance industry calls a pre-existing condition.

David Goldman / Associated Press

On Monday, the Georgia Legislature convened for its 2017-2018 session.  

From old battles like guns on college campuses and "religious freedom" bills, to responding to the new administration's decision on Obamacare, state lawmakers will face some big and complicated issues this new year.  On "Morning Edition," WABE reporters Elly Yu and Johnny Kauffman talked with Denis O'Hayer about what to expect.

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Al Such / WABE

This week, Republican leaders in the new Congress hope to hold confirmation hearings for key members of the incoming Donald Trump administration. However, Democrats – and even some Republicans – are worried by the president-elect's continuing skepticism about U.S. intelligence findings that Russian hackers attacked the Democratic National Committee.  

On "Morning Edition," Georgia's senior senator, Republican Johnny Isakson, talked about that, Obamacare's future and other issues with WABE's Denis O'Hayer.

Al Such

State lawmakers returned to the Capitol on Monday, for the first day of the 2017-2018 session.

The GOP enjoys big majorities in both the House and the Senate, but they and Republican Gov. Nathan Deal will be greatly affected by what the incoming Trump administration and the new Congress do on issues like healthcare.

On Friday, in the midst of storm preparations, the Governor spoke with WABE's Denis O'Hayer about the upcoming debates under the Gold Dome.

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Wellstar Cobb Hospital
Al Such / WABE

The biggest insurer and the biggest hospital system in Georgia are joining forces.

WellStar Health System and Blue Cross Blue Shield have agreed to take part in a federal insurance exchange product.

“Continuity of physician and hospital is important to consumers and you know, you feel comfortable with somebody you trust. And if a WellStar patient very much likes their doctor, they can keep them if they stay in the Blue Cross network,” said Andy Miller, with Georgia Health News. 

The HealthCare.gov website, where people can buy health insurance, is displayed on a laptop screen in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015.
Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

With the state legislative session a month away, Georgia lawmakers and advocates want details on how exactly Republicans in Washington will repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Before that, they say, there’s little they can do to significantly reduce Georgia’s uninsured population, which is somewhere above one million.  Georgia has one of the highest uninsured rates in the nation.

Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga.,  July 23, 2013.
Charles Dharapak / Associated Press

President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for Health and Human Services Secretary has been in the U.S. House of Representative for 12 years.  But Tom Price got his start in the Georgia State Senate, where he served eight years, becoming the first Republican Senate majority leader since Reconstruction.

Lawmakers who served with Price in the Legislature say he will bring that state government experience –along with his background as an orthopedic surgeon – to his new job, should the Senate confirm him.  

Now that the 2016 U.S. elections are over, the names of several Georgia Republican leaders continue to appear on lists of those likely to win appointments to top posts in President-elect Donald Trump's administration.  

Meanwhile, Democrats in Georgia, and around the nation, are trying to figure out a new strategy for the coming four years.

Firefighters spent more than two months battling wildfires in north Georgia and in Tennessee this fall.
John Bazemore / Associated Press

Wednesday on "Closer Look with Rose Scott and Jim Burress":

Closer Look: Reconciling After The Election; And More

Nov 10, 2016
Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press

Thursday on "Closer Look with Rose Scott and Jim Burress":

Supporters of the Affordable Care Act hold up signs as the opinion for health care is reported outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday June 25, 2015.
Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press

 On a recent campaign stop in Cobb County, Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence made a promise that used to be a big applause line at Republican rallies since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

“If you want a president who will cut taxes, grow our economy, squeeze every nickel out of that bloated federal bureaucracy and repeal Obamacare lock stock and barrel,” Pence said to growing applause, “then I say to you here in Georgia, we have but one choice.”

The HealthCare.gov website, where people can buy health insurance, is displayed on a laptop screen in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015.
Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia says it will soon be the only insurer on the Affordable Care Act exchange in most of the state.

Blue Cross says with Aetna's pullout earlier this month, it will be the sole insurer on the exchange in 96 Georgia counties next year. UnitedHealthcare and Cigna are also dropping out of the market, while Humana is significantly downsizing its footprint to just a few counties. 

This year, all 159 counties had at least two providers offering plans.

The HealthCare.gov website, where people can buy health insurance, is displayed on a laptop screen in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015.
Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

The state agency that oversees Georgia’s Medicaid program says it needs tens of millions of dollars more this budget year to cover its expanding roles, and more than $100 million the following year.

The Georgia Department of Community Health has requested an additional $82.8 million in state funds to cover Medicaid growth for Fiscal Year 2017, which started in June. DCH will also ask for another $121.4 million in FY 2018.  

Alex Brandon, File / Associated Press

Federal health officials are downplaying concerns of higher costs and less choice on the Obamacare insurance exchanges next year, including in Georgia.

A report from the U.S. Department Health and Human Services released Wednesday said even if all premiums increase in Georgia by 50 percent next year, around 79 percent of consumers would still pay $75 or less each month for coverage.

David Goldman / Associated Press

Georgia health officials painted a dire pictures of the state’s rural hospital network for state lawmakers Monday, with more cuts predicted as the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, continues to roll out.

About 40 percent of the state's hospitals lost money in 2014, according to the Georgia Hospital Association's most recent figures.

Testifying in front of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, the association's Ethan James was asked if that number might now be closer to half of hospitals operating in the red.

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