In an interesting turn for political support, there now exists a desire by a small number of Georgia Republicans that are now open to the idea of expanding Medicaid. However, they will face significant hurdles to do so. The conservative backers still are not sure exactly how much it may cost or if they even maintain enough support to vote in next year’s legislative session. Even with the growing number of support from Republican Lawmakers, they face the same objections as before – for example, Governor Nathan Deal has yet so sign on and several State Representatives such as Jason Spencer (R-Woodbine) remain critical of any form of expansion.
According to Greg Bluestein of The AJC, Georgian lawmakers previously complicated a potential expansion by sending the authorization to lawmakers and not Governor Deal. Keep in mind, he has been trying to study other ways to expand healthcare accessibility in a way that can assist rural and safety-net hospitals. On the other side, State Senator Renee Unterman (R-Buford), who once opposed the expansion, now seeks to revisit this difficult decision after a handful of recent converts became increasingly frustrated with financial struggles of rural hospitals and trauma centers. Since 2001, dozens of rural hospitals have been deemed financially fragile, including nine that closed due to extreme financial difficulty while expansion states often experience significant revenue boosts and budgetary improvements.
Will Georgia mimic the fiscally successful change-of-mind seen in Louisiana? Will Medicaid expansion become inevitable? Or will Georgia pass once again? Whatever the outcome, it is always positive to see such intense dialogue across party lines in our industry.