Political Notes – Spencer is only repeating what Judson Hill already said

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Rep. Jason Spencer (R-Woodbine), a second-term lawmaker from Camden County, created a bit of a media ruckus Monday when he compared hospitals that accept Medicaid dollars to crack addicts.

Here’s what Spencer posted on Facebook:

“By the way, many hospitals are addicted to the current reimbursement structure in Medicine (the main problem with the healthcare). They are like addicts on crack. They don’t want to give up the money or move to a different solution. They benefit off the current system. That’s why hospitals want more Medicaid dollars with this expansion because it is an easier fix to them but everyone else continues to pay through the nose for it in new Obamacare taxes and insurance premium hikes.”

Spencer, who’s a physician’s assistant when he isn’t working at the Gold Dome, drew an angry retort from the Georgia Democratic Party, which said his crack about crack was “shockingly uninformed.”

Spencer is also diving into something that could be a very explosive issue in next year’s race for governor.

Three small hospitals in rural South Georgia shut down in 2013, in part because the hospitals were not getting enough money for treating Medicaid patients.  Additional hospitals could be forced to close in 2014.

Gov. Nathan Deal has steadfastly refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, even though the expansion would bring the state more than $3 billion in federal funds for its financially ailing hospitals.

Spencer, however, is arguing that Georgia should be paying less in Medicaid dollars to these distressed hospitals, not more.  That’s an argument that’s surely going to be discussed at greater length in the governor’s race.

Oddly enough, while Spencer is catching flak for comparing hospitals needing Medicaid payments to “crack addicts,” he is not the first Georgia politician to use that language.

In an October 2012 interview with the Marietta Daily Journal, Sen. Judson Hill (R-Marietta) made this statement about Medicaid payments to hospitals:

“I call it federal crack dollars,” Hill said. “The federal government pimps us with federal dollars — and they’re doing it again with Obamacare — and then along the way they reduce the federal allocation after the state has chosen to participate in the program or expand their program based on receiving federal dollars, and politically it becomes even more challenging to ‘just say no.’”

Hill was explaining why he opposed the state’s Medicaid provider fee, also known as a “hospital bed tax.”

Hill’s comparison of Medicaid to “federal crack dollars” was picked up and referred to several times in media accounts of the ensuing debate over the provider fee.  The Democratic Party evidently was not troubled by the comment because it never criticized Hill for making the comparison.

Ironically, in the 2013 legislative session, Hill flip-flopped on the issue and voted to pass Deal’s bill that extended the Medicaid provider fee for an additional four years.

When he was asked why he had changed his position on the Medicaid fee, Hill said: “What’s changed since the last time we considered this issue?  In one word, Obamacare.”

Westmoreland and Benghazi

U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Coweta County), like many of his conservative colleagues, went ballistic over a lengthy article in the New York Times that said the 2012 attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi was not linked to al Qaeda but was caused in part by outrage over an anti-Islam video made in the United States.

Westmoreland charged the Times account was “completely false” and was part of a conspiracy to “lay the groundwork” for a Hillary Clinton presidential campaign in 2016.

“The reports by the New York Times was — I don’t know why they put it out unless it was for political reasons, but we thoroughly dispute that story as far as the link to al Qaeda,” Westmoreland said in an appearance on a Fox TV show.

“Of course Secretary Clinton was in charge at the time, and you know there are just now a lot of rumors going and pushing about her running for president in 2016,” Westmoreland added. “So I think they are already laying the groundwork.”

New York slips again

There was a time when New York was once the most populous state in the union, but that status changed a long time ago when California and Texas surpassed the Empire State.

It is about to happen again.  At some point in 2014, Florida will grow to the point where it is the third most populous state, pushing New York into fourth place.

From the New York Times:

A closer look at the numbers shows that New York is not actually losing population. It has been growing at about 1 percent annually of late, but it simply cannot keep up with Florida’s rate of growth, which was about 2.7 percent between April 2010 and mid-2012, according to the Census Bureau.

However, New York’s population is declining in upstate cities like Buffalo, which has lost more than 10 percent of its population since 2000, as well as places like Syracuse and Rochester, where population is largely stagnant.

© 2013 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Benghazi , crack , hospitals , Jason Spencer , Judson Hill , Lynn Westmoreland , Medicaid , New York Times , population ranking