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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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Why would President Donald Trump attack the validity of an election that he – and Republicans in Georgia and nationwide – won?  That's the question on the mind of Republican strategist Brian Robinson.  He's a former deputy chief of staff and communications director for Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal.

In a conversation with Denis O'Hayer on "Morning Edition," Robinson talked about the effects the President's claims might have on Georgia's top voting official, Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp.  

Alison Guillory / WABE

Supporters of legalizing casino gambling in Georgia are introducing legislation to do just that.  

The proposed constitutional amendment – and a companion bill to outline how and where casinos would operate – call for the state to put some of the money it would collect from casinos into the HOPE scholarship program.  Another share of the state's take would go to a plan for scholarships based on need.

David Goldman / Associated Press

It was a busy first week of the Georgia Legislature's 2017-18 session.  Governor Deal delivered his State of the State message, with a focus on failing schools; supporters of a "campus carry" bill took their first steps toward reviving it; and there were quiet, high-level meetings about possible casino legislation.

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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State Republican leaders indicated Thursday they are not prioritizing religious exemption bills that have headlined legislative sessions in years past.

Republican House and Senate leaders spoke about their legislative agendas Thursday for this year’s General Assembly which starts Monday. The Senate GOP Caucus’s priorities included topics ranging from health care to education funding, but did not include religious exemptions bills.  

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who presides over the state Senate, said it’s a different environment today because of the recent election.

Although it is located in the middle of one of the Atlanta region's fastest-growing areas, DeKalb Medical Center recently laid off 60 workers; eliminated 80 positions that were already vacant; and accepted the resignations of its chief executive officer, chief operating officer and chief financial officer.  

DeKalb Medical has admitted its financial performance has not been satisfactory.  DeKalb Medical board vice chair, and former DeKalb County District Attorney Bob Wilson is the new CEO.  

Georgia Capitol Building
Al Such / WABE

There has been no post-election lull in Georgia politics.  

State leaders in both parties have begun drawing battle lines for the upcoming session of the Legislature. One example:  On "Morning Edition," House Democratic leader Stacey Abrams said that her caucus will continue to fight for Medicaid expansion in the state.

Al Such / WABE

They are outnumbered in the Georgia House of Representatives by almost two-to-one, but Democrats plan to dig in on several issues when the Legislature returns next month.  

That's the message from House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta.  Although Republicans in Washington have promised to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (also called Obamacare), Abrams promises Democrats will continue to push Georgia officials to expand the state's Medicaid rolls, to cover more uninsured people.  

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.  

Al Such / WABE

Donald Trump’s win is set to ripple through Georgia politics in the coming months and beyond, potentially redirecting expected state policy changes on issues like education, health care and religious rights.

Trump’s win “sends a signal” to the state Legislature, said Republican state Sen. Michael Williams of Cumming. He called himself the first Republican official in Georgia to endorse the now president-elect.

“I think the discussions that we have are going to dramatically change based on the leadership that we see from Donald Trump,” Williams said.

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.”

Gerald Herbert / Associated Press

A health care task force created by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce released its much-anticipated report on ways the state could expand medical coverage to the uninsured Wednesday, outlining three paths for lawmakers to consider this coming legislative session.

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.

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

Georgia could pull down $8 to $9 from the federal government for every one state dollar it spends to expand Medicaid, according to a new report from the Urban Institute.

The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit looked at Georgia and the 18 other states that have not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

The findings show Georgia could get from $8.86 to $9.42 for every state dollar it spends to expand the federal health program that covers the poor and disabled, depending on how many people enroll in the program.

WABE File

There are an estimated 400,000 Georgians who can't afford health care insurance, but who have too much income to qualify for Medicaid. The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, aimed to close that gap by offering federal money to states if they expanded Medicaid to cover more of those people.

But more than six years after the ACA took effect, Georgia has consistently refused to expand Medicaid. And without that federal money, Georgia officials have had to pump millions of state dollars into the health system to meet exploding costs.

One of Georgia's leading Republicans on healthcare, Sen. Renee Unterman, wants the state to "re-examine" Medicaid expansion and look at possibly taking federal money to buy insurance for low-income people.

Democrats, like Sen. Nan Orrock of Atlanta, are on board with that.

“I think that, that is a pathway that the Republican controlled states are choosing. I think it's less than the best option,” said Orrock.

Orrock said she'd rather see Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act.

WABE File

The Republican head of the Georgia Senate's Health and Human Services committee says the state needs to “re-examine” expanding Medicaid.

State Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) didn’t endorse the idea of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Rather, she thinks the state should look at negotiating a federal waiver, as other Republican-majority states have done, to tailor how any potential Medicaid expansion would work.

Phillip Jeffrey (cropped) / flickr.com/photos/tyfn/

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

Alison Guillory / WABE

    

It's been a busy week in Georgia politics, and it's only going to get more frenetic once the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries are over and presidential candidates start heading south for the March 1 SEC primaries.

Before they get here, though, state political leaders have been occupied with -- among other things -- the delay in Gov. Nathan Deal's education reform package and the continuing pressure to expand the state's Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act -- something the governor has so far refused to do.

John Bazemore / Associated Press

Georgia Democrats responded to Gov. Nathan Deal's State of the State address, saying the governor's plan doesn't do enough for the everyday people of Georgia. In its Democratic response, the party called on the state to expand Medicaid, fund mass transit and raise the minimum wage. 

Alison Guillory / WABE

 The Georgia General Assembly convened Monday to begin the second year of a two-year session.

Republicans hold big majorities in both the House and the Senate, but House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D-Atlanta) says Democrats can still make a difference.  

In a wide-ranging conversation with Denis O'Hayer, Abrams talked about where and how Democrats can draw battle lines to get what they want -- and where they will have to simply resist new GOP legislation they might not like.

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

Going into President Barack Obama's last year in office, progress has stalled on reducing the number of uninsured Americans under his signature health care law, according to a major survey out Thursday.

The share of U.S. adults without health insurance was 11.9 percent in the last three months of 2015, essentially unchanged from the start of the year, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. The ongoing survey, based on daily interviews with 500 people, has been used by media, social scientists, and administration officials to track the law's impact.