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Medicaid

Elly YU / WABE

Some of the state's top Republican leaders said they have concerns about the Republican health care bill moving through Congress, and in particular a funding plan for Medicaid.

Under the Congressional Republican plan, states after 2020 would get a capped amount of federal funding based on how much a state spends per person on Medicaid. The Medicaid program insures low-income people and those with disabilities.

J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

 

 

U.S. House Republicans have unveiled a pair of bills laying out what repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act could look like.

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According to Cindy Zeldin, with healthcare consumer advocacy group Georgians for a Healthy Future, one of the biggest impacts this state would feel is from a major shift in the way Medicaid works.

Elly Yu / WABE News

Cindy Jones still can’t help but think about the timing of things. Stewart-Webster Hospital, the place she and her family had gone to for years, closed in March of 2013. A month later, her husband Bill suffered a heart attack.

“He came in from a day of farming and ate supper, and then sat down to watch David Letterman,” Jones said. “And all of a sudden he got quiet, and we knew something was wrong because he wasn’t laughing at David Letterman anymore.”

A Pennsylvania lottery kiosk promotes the record $1.4 billion Powerball Jackpot in a mini-mart in Monroeville, Pa., Jan. 11, 2015.
Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press

Alabama is one of only six states that doesn't sell lottery tickets, but that could change soon.

Lawmakers in Alabama are divided on whether to legalize the lottery there to help fund Medicaid.

After years of opposition, the governor of Alabama now says legalizing the lottery is the only way to cover Medicaid costs.

Lucy Dadayan, a senior researcher with the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, a New York-based think tank, said if they do, it could cut into Georgia's lottery sales.

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.

From left, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif. and Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., sing "We Shall Overcome" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 23, 2016.
Carolyn Kaster / AP Photo

  

While the British were voting to leave the European Union, it was a big week in politics on this side of the pond. Atlanta Democratic Congressman John Lewis led a sit-in on the floor of the U.S. House, which was watched around the world on social media. And the Supreme Court issued some big decisions on affirmative action and President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration.  

Jeff Chiu, File / Associated Press

WABE's news reporters, producers and editors are already looking toward 2016.

"Morning Edition" host Denis O'Hayer says he is curious about Obamacare and what the state of Georgia will decide to do about Medicaid:

"Part of the dispute is whether the state would expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, and Gov. Deal has said, 'no no no.' There have been rumblings for a long time that the state would try to negotiate some sort of third way with the feds, something between 'absolutely no' and 'we're going to expand Medicaid.'"        

WellStar Health System

WellStar Health System says it’s in discussions with Tenet Healthcare to buy Tenet's five hospitals in Georgia.

Tenet, a for-profit company that operates 81 hospitals nationwide, has been considering selling its facilities in Georgia, according to an earnings call with analysts earlier this year.

Hospitals have been looking to scale their operations as part of a bigger trend in the industry, but the lack of Medicaid expansion in Georgia could also be another factor for Tenet's sale, said Chris Kane, principal at DHG Healthcare.

More than a dozen states that opted to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act have seen enrollments surge way beyond projections.

Those numbers raise concerns that the added costs will strain state budgets when federal aid is scaled back starting in two years.

Some lawmakers warn that the price of expanding the health care program for poor and lower-income Americans could mean less money available for other state services, including education.

Poor Georgians will have a more difficult time finding doctors this year, because fewer physicians will take Medicaid patients. They say the federal government is not paying enough for the care they provide to low-income residents.

 

The Empty Stocking Fund

  What do a local children’s charity and a federal health care law have in common? More than you might think.

The Affordable Care Act expanded requirements for Medicaid, the federal/state program that helps low-income families and individuals pay for health care.

“More than 90,000 Georgians were assessed ‘Medicaid eligible’ by the marketplace and many of those were children,” says Beth Stephens, the Health Access Program Director for Georgia Watch.

Georgia hospitals want the state to reconsider its opposition to expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. They warn rural hospitals in particular are in danger of closing. By one estimate, as many as 15 hospitals are at risk.

A prominent state lawmaker, however, remains firmly against expansion and says some closings are indeed justified.  

Moral Monday Protesters Rally for Medicaid Expansion

Jan 13, 2014

Despite pouring rain, about two hundred Moral Monday demonstrators rallied on the steps of the state Capitol, protesting the governor’s refusal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

The coalition of religious and progressive activists demanded Gov. Nathan Deal change his mind about Medicaid expansion, thus enabling hundreds of thousands of uninsured Georgians to gain health coverage.

Georgia is fighting the health care law at every political turn.

Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican, chose not to expand Medicaid, despite the increased federal funding made possible by the Affordable Care Act. And Ralph Hudgens, the state's insurance commissioner, publicly vowed to obstruct the law.

But that doesn't mean that Georgia isn't seeing some financial benefits from the law.

By 2020, had Georgia participated in the Medicaid expansion, almost twice as many uninsured Georgians would have received coverage compared to current projections based on the state’s decision not to participate.
Courtesy: The Commonwealth Fund

If Georgia does not expand Medicaid, as is now Governor Nathan Deal’s plan, the state’s economy will do without about $4.9 billion in the year 2022.  The figure comes from a newly-released Commonwealth Fund report on how states will gain or lose in the Medicaid expansion equation.  

Some Georgians shopping for health insurance on the federally-run exchange are learning they actually qualify for Medicaid, the joint federal/state program for those in the lowest income brackets.

While that's generally considered a positive effect of President Obama's signature healthcare law, a technical issue at the federal level is putting Georgia and other states in a bind.

Medicaid Study Committee Holds Final Hearing

Nov 19, 2013

Georgia lawmakers Monday held the last of a series of hearings on how to control rising costs related to the state Medicaid program.

In a packed committee room near the state Capitol, several speakers representing hospitals and other provider groups stressed the implications of the health reform law.

Jim Burress / WABE News

After a stop at the Carter Center Friday morning to announce new insurance rules for mental health coverage, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius headed to Southside Medical Center.   

There, the Secretary touted a new $150-million investment in community health centers as part of the Affordable Care Act.

 Of that, $379,000 will come to Southside Medical Center to fund, in part, more outreach and education surrounding the health insurance exchange.

For the first time publicly, the state’s largest hospital advocacy group says Georgia needs to expand Medicaid under President Obama’s health reform law.

Georgia is one of 25 states that so far have opted out of the expansion.

Kevin Bloye of the Georgia Hospital Association, which represents 174 hospitals across Georgia, says state leaders must rethink their opposition.

Despite a new health care exchange run by the federal government, more than 400,000 low-income Georgians could remain uninsured in 2014.

A Kaiser Family Foundation report says it’s because of Georgia’s decision not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Georgians Now Able To Sign Up for Medicaid Online

Oct 10, 2013
davidking via Flickr

For the first time Georgians can enroll for Medicaid benefits on the web. 

The new feature went online at the beginning of the month and is part of President Obama’s health reform law.

“The federal reform law required it to be running October 1. Ours is up and running," said Department of Community Health Commissioner Clyde Reese. "You can apply online now and my understanding is that’s going well.” 

Medicaid is the joint federal-state program that provides low-income people with health coverage.

After months of speculation, nonprofit CEO Michelle Nunn announced Tuesday she’ll seek the Democratic nomination for Georgia’s open U.S. Senate seat in 2014.

She’s running to replace Republican Saxby Chambliss, who is retiring after two terms.

Nunn says she’s running to restore fiscal responsibility to Washington, create jobs, and put a stop to partisan bickering.

Marilyn Tavenner, Administrator for the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, gives the keynote address at the 2013 Georgia Chamber Health Care Conference.
Jim Burress / WABE News

Lots of businesses are unsure what changes mandated in the Affordable Care Act will mean to their bottom line. 

    

Answering those questions was at the heart of a health care conference put on Wednesday by the Georgia Chamber.

Marilyn Tavenner, head of the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, gave the keynote address.

She told the few hundred attendees at the Georgia Tech Conference Center she avoids calling the law by name.

Children's Hospital Association

Georgia families and those from across the nation are in Washington D.C. to raise awareness about the challenges facing children who receive Medicaid and the best ways to reform the program. They’re meeting with members of Congress as part of a family advocacy day hosted by the Children’s Hospital Association. The visit comes as Congress considers whether to cut Medicaid and other entitlement programs to reduce the federal deficit.
 

InsiderAdvantage

  Governor Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) is now in the middle of his first term, and all signs are he'll run for re-election in 2014.  

Two recent polls appeared to give conflicting signals about how Georgia voters view the Governor.  One gave Deal an approval rating of 55%; the other had him at just 36%.

But Matt Towery, CEO of InsiderAdvantage, the firm with the 55% rating for Deal, said the two polls might not be as different as they seem at first glance.

 Towery spoke with WABE's Denis O'Hayer.

Coalition Urges Governor to Reconsider Medicaid Expansion

Feb 19, 2013

A coalition of patient advocates and health care providers called on Gov. Nathan Deal Tuesday to reconsider his opposition to expanding Medicaid under the federal health reform law.

At the state Capitol, members of the Cover Georgia coalition made their case for expanding the state healthcare program for the needy. Dr. Harry Struthers, a family physician, said extending coverage to the uninsured will help control costs in the long-run.

“Seeing people for preventative care is a lot more efficient than seeing them after they’ve had their stroke,” said Struthers.

A recent Carter Center forum examined how the Affordable Care Act will affect Georgia’s mental health and substance abuse services. Speakers examined what Governor Deal’s decision not expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act will mean and alternative options.

Governor Deal Signs Bed Tax

Feb 13, 2013
John Lorinc / WABE

Georgia's struggling Medicaid program gets a boost from Governor Nathan Deal.

The governor signed Senate Bill 24 Wednesday morning during the Georgia Hospital Association's Annual Meeting.  Deal says the so-called "bed tax" is a big step for hospitals throughout the state.

"We did have hold of about $700 million dollars in our Medicaid budget.  This will allow us to use the funds that will be generated through the provider fee to draw down roughly two times that amount of money in federal matching money for the state."

Denis O'Hayer/WABE News

  Georgia's Republican Governor Nathan Deal faces many big decisions in the next few months.  One big one involves whether or not to remove members of the embattled DeKalb County School Board.  The other:  whether or not to expand the state's Medicaid program, as called for under the new health care reform law.  

Governor Deal has consistently said he will not expand the state's Medicaid rolls, but now some other GOP governors have decided to do just that in their states.  

During a budget hearing at the state Capitol, the chief of Georgia’s Medicaid program emphasized the importance of renewing the so-called hospital bed tax.

Department of Community Health Commissioner David Cook said without the expiring bed tax, the state would need to find more than a half a billion dollars to shore up Medicaid.

“Our opportunities to address a $550 million shortfall if that were not passed would be pretty much limited to addressing it through provider payment rates, which I think could be significant.”

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