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Opinion: Kemp is asking us to spend more to cover fewer Georgians
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Gov. Brian Kemp, left, and former Gov. Nathan Deal meet prior to the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce board meeting Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019, at the Ramsey Conference Center at Lanier Technical College. - photo by Scott Rogers

On Monday, I attended Georgia’s public comment on the governor’s new proposal for a Medicaid waiver at the Gainesville Civic Center.

I spoke on behalf of my daughter, to stand up for her future and to stand up for the future of all Georgians. Although the details of a Medicaid waiver are not making the front page of some news sources, the policy behind them is vital to Georgia and will mean the difference between life and death and healthy or sick Georgians in the near future.

My daughter was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease when she was 3; this forced her into a lifelong sentence as a person with “pre-existing conditions.” Because my husband and I are small business owners, we were thrust into Georgia’s health insurance marketplace, which sent our finances, and emotional well-being, into a terrible spiral.

After experiencing this system, and studying what laws Georgia has implemented, I am disgusted at Gov. Brian Kemp’s latest proposal, known as a Medicaid waiver.

The ACA system was designed to work with a balance of insurance policies available on the exchange or through Medicaid. Georgia voluntarily refused the Medicaid coverage (and federal money), thus creating a system that did not work; the numbers simply don’t add up and, consequently, our insurance marketplace has failed many Georgians.

The state of Georgia has offered no legitimate reason — fiscal or otherwise — as to why it will not accept Medicaid expansion under the ACA, which would provide Medicaid to 400,000 Georgians and only cost the state 10% and the federal government would pay 90%. This is stealing from Georgians, who pay the same federal taxes that other states pay, yet receive less benefits, resulting in crisis: rural hospitals closing, the ACA marketplace being completely out of balance, and premiums being unaffordable for the middle class and self-employed citizens.

This is all because of the state of Georgia’s choice. At this point, Gov. Kemp is in a unique position and could choose to expand Medicaid and cover 400,000 Georgians.

The costs of covering that many people is $213 million.

Instead, the governor is proposing this nonsensical plan (the Section 1115 Medicaid Waiver) that will only cover 80,000 Georgians at a cost of $215 million.

In review, our governor is asking us to spend $2 million more to cover 320,000 fewer Georgians. That’s 320,000 actual people that won’t have health insurance.

Not only does this plan steal our already-paid federal tax dollars, it throws off the intricate balance of insurance in Georgia, putting in danger our hospitals, our medical care, and causing unsustainable fluctuation in health insurance pricing.

In sum, this plan costs more money to cover fewer people and endangers the people of Georgia’s lives. It is both morally and fiscally irresponsible. I am asking Gov. Kemp to be fiscally conservative and please fully expand Medicaid, thus saving us both millions of dollars and lives.

Leigh Miller

Flowery Branch

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