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Georgia should consider Medicaid expansion

Mac Gordon

Mac Gordon

Georgia is among a handful of states yet to decide whether to expand its Medicaid program. Although the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of President Obama's health care initiative, states were given the choice of expanding the Medicaid program that serves the elderly, the needy and the forgotten.

The last I heard from Gov. Nathan Deal, he wants to wait until after the November election to decide on expanding the program. If Republican contender Mitt Romney is elected president, the question may be moot because he says he is somehow going to derail what he mockingly calls "Obamacare."

That's some big talk, declaring you are going to roll back a program that has won approval from the nation's highest court. Rest assured that if the question goes before the high court, advocates will be pushing just as hard to see that the program remains intact.

According to The Associated Press, Georgia's present Medicaid program now covers some 1.7 million of the state's 9.8 million people, or almost 20 percent. Expanding the program, Deal has said, would add about 650,000 people to the program. The feds would pay the full costs of those added to the Medicaid rolls for three years and afterward would pay 90 percent of those costs.

I would be willing to bet that each of the estimated 23,000 hospital beds in Georgia has been slept in by a Medicaid patient. I also imagine that the hospitals were glad to get reimbursement from the federal/state program.

Surely no one disputes the notion that Medicaid is an important economic engine that helps keep this state running. Many small hospitals and nursing homes get the lion's share of their annual revenue directly from Medicaid. Those reimbursements put money in the pockets of not only doctors but also many nurses, aides and other health care workers.

If you are not on the Medicaid rolls yourself, rejoice and be happy in it, but also be assured that someone you know is on the list. If you doubt that, take a stroll through the corridors of a nearby nursing home. That's where a majority of the patients are Medicaid beneficiaries.

Most hospitals and nursing homes in Georgia and surrounding states will do almost anything to fill a hospital bed, because usually some program is going to pay for the services rendered. Books are cooked (the legal way) until they look like burned shoe leather. The way patients are categorized can quickly be changed to keep that bed occupied and the care and the cash flowing. To a small, struggling, unappreciated hospital or nursing home, that often means the doors stay open.

Some citizens of this state outlive their financial resources, get deathly ill or disabled and go on Medicaid to pay for their care. A little-known fact is that Medicaid often makes up a portion of its costs by taking and selling citizens' property after they're gone. I know people who have faced that situation, and if you don't, please exit your ivory tower and get a real life.

I think Georgia should think real hard before saying "no" to Medicaid expansion.

Mac Gordon is a retired reporter who lives near Blakely and writes an occasional opinion column for The Albany Herald. He can be reached at macmarygordongmail.com.

Comments

chinaberry25 1 year, 8 months ago

Expansion, we cannot afford what we already have.

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gotanyfacts 1 year, 8 months ago

One of the reasons our nation finds itself in an economic bind is doing as Mac does here, looking at the money coming in while failing to recognize where it has to come from. The federal monies had to come from our pockets first. After reducing our disposable income through taxes, fees, and cost of over-regulation the government comes to our rescue; at the mere cost of personal freedom.

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msa651 1 year, 8 months ago

For being a retired reporter, I would have expected more than just the typical talking points and maybe just a bit more digging in to the facts.

After the first 3 years as the standard talking point says, Georgia would be required to pay 10% of the costs, but you don't say where the State should get the money from. Nor do you even mention the fact that the State would have to pickup the entire cost of Admin, from day 1 I understand that this is quite a big cost. Again no mention of where the State will get the money for this again. The estimated cost in year 4 is over is 500 million to the State. Nor do you mention that if the state does not take up the expansion, the same people will be eligible for care through the exchanges, state or federal, where a large portion of the cost to the individual if not all the cost will be paid by the federal government. If it's a federal exchange then the state has no cost. Then there is the actual care, medicaid pays far less that medicare. Every provider loses money when they they take a medicaid person. Try and find a doctor today that will take medicaid or medicare. How about the shortage of doctors? Even the NY Times is now reporting, we have a shortage. the same people will end up getting less and poorer quality care than they should have.

No Mr Gordon, what sounds good on the surface, is not so pretty under the surface. The only thing you get with the expansion, is more government control over an individuals health care, not better care. People would be better off in the exchange buying insurance and getting a doctor that will except the insurance, that is if they can find a doctor that will take new patients.

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Progressive 1 year, 8 months ago

That's some big talk, declaring you are going to roll back a program that has won approval from the nation's highest court

This typical democratic spin to confuse the readers. The Supreme Court did not approve Obamacare! It ruled the plan as a TAX, which is exactly what Obama tried to tell the people that is was not = bait and switch = gotcha again.

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mirish69 1 year, 8 months ago

I agree! Why don't we just go ahead and expand medicaid and to be able to afford it, let's disolve the military and establish the "Obama Militia". And while we are at it, let's expand the food stamp program even more so that everyone just get's vouchers for food and necessities and do away with paychecks all together. Let's hand all our earnings and savings over to the government so we can "share the wealth" with the less fortunate or better yet, the less motivated and less energetic (at least when it comes to work) so we can all be one big happy nation like the communists countries! On second thought, I haven't seen allot of smiling faces out of those countries except maybe the Chinese at the Olympics. I have always beleived we should follow down the same road of destruction as our European and communists neighbors because as we all know, it is working so well for them! That is what truly makes us special because we believe if it doesnt work for the rest of the world, well we will be damn sure to make it work for us! I thank God every day for this left wing liberal kind of thinking. Oops, I apologoze for putting God and liberal in the same sentence. That was politically incorrect of me.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 8 months ago

Think about this folks. 650,000 people who would have public insurance to go to doctors' offices and clinics rather than clog emergency rooms. That's a lot of savings to us. It may be a bitter pill to swallow but it might be the better of the alternatives. It's not that we are going to get off without paying, it's just which bill do we want to pay?

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 8 months ago

Mac Gordon is such a dope. Herald, please quit printing his tripe and let him stay in permanent retiremen.

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Jimboob 1 year, 8 months ago

Is there anyone here that believes poor people will just disipare if Medicade doesn't pay? If Medicade doesn't pick up the bill for doctor visits the state will pay for treatment in the emergency room. Anyone who has used emergency room services know that it costs a lot... A whole lot.

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agirl_25 1 year, 8 months ago

No poor people won't disappear if Medicaid doesn't pay the bills but I understand what he is talking about as far as funding for the elderly, cooking the books so to speak, and the importance of Medicaid to some small rural hospitals. I have seen elderly lose everything because of their inability to pay for their care and have no family to care for them. They exhaust their resources and have to fall back on Medicaid. I have also seen lonely elderly people with no family be discharged from the hospital early in the AM and wait around for DFACS to find them a ride to their lonely empty home. Later that afternoon the same lonely person comes back in the hospital with a .38 bullet lodged in his brain....and we declare him dead. There was not a Medicaid bed available for him. I saw an elderly couple who had painful rheumatoid arthritis so bad they could barely move...married nearly 70 years....who could not wait any longer for Medicaid beds that were not available.....he placed her on the floor on a soft bed of quilts, covered her face with a pillowcase and shot her..laid down beside her, covered himself and did the same. I don't know...I have seen the faces of Medicaid recipients other than the fat-assed welfare cheats and I don't want them to suffer.

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