Obamacare, Medicaid expansion bills to get votes in final days

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With the legislative session winding down to its final four days, bills that would halt attempts to expand Medicaid coverage and implement Obamacare are still awaiting final votes in the Georgia Senate.

The Senate is expected to vote at some point prior to final adjournment on HB 990, which would shift the decision for expanding Medicaid coverage from the governor’s office to the General Assembly.

A vote in the upper chamber is also anticipated on HB 707, which would prohibit state agencies from implementing any provisions of the ACA, such as through providing navigators for the health insurance exchanges.

The debate over the federal Affordable Care Act has generated much controversy between the two sides of the contentious issue, with press conferences held in support of it and in opposition to it.

The latest news conference was held on the capitol steps Tuesday morning by Georgians for a Healthy Future, which supports the expansion of Medicaid coverage, a major provision of the ACA.

Gov. Nathan Deal and the legislature’s Republican leadership oppose Medicaid expansion, which would provide healthcare coverage to an estimated 650,000 low-income Georgians.

“Medicaid expansion can help people get covered and we’re here to ask our state policymakers to make it happen,” said Cindy Zeldin, the executive director of Georgians for a Healthy Future.

She quoted from one of the 8,000 postcards her organization has received from around the state in support of the insurance program’s expansion: “Everyone has a right to be cared for medically. No one should be left behind.”

Dawn Randolph, a lobbyist for the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse, called substance abuse and mental health treatment “one of the wreckages this state has to clean up.”

“We need to support folks in our communities as soon as possible,” Randolph said. “That’s why Medicaid expansion is so important.”

She added: “Expanding Medicaid gives us tools for chronic health conditions. Let’s make sure what we do is get folks healthy and not waiting.”

Cathryn Marchman of Saint Joseph’s Mercy Care Services said her organization provides healthcare services to about 13,000 patients a year, 92 percent of whom are uninsured.

Medicaid expansion “is not a handout, it’s truly a hand up for our patients, particularly the homeless,” Marchman said.

© 2014 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: ACA , Cindy Zeldin , Dawn Randolph , Georgians for a Healthy Future , Medicaid expansion , Nathan Deal , Obamacare