GOP lawmakers have mixed reaction to Medicaid expansion plan

[private]Republican legislators are divided in their early reactions to the Medicaid expansion proposal developed by a Georgia Chamber of Commerce task force.

Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford), who had already showed signs of softening her opposition to Medicaid expansion funded with Obamacare dollars, supported the Chamber’s proposal.

“The three proposed cafeteria alternatives adequately reflect Georgia’s conservative values in solving the dilemma of how we take care of the needs of millions of our state’s citizens who presently do not have medical insurance available,” Unterman said.

“Our state ranks 48th in the nation for the number of uninsured citizens living in our state,” Unterman said. “We can no longer close our eyes and hope this problem of accessibility goes away. We can no longer prop up our current budget with only state medical care dollars.”

On the other hand, Rep. Jason Spencer (R-Woodbine), a Camden County tea partier, contended that the Chamber proposal “will put our state’s most needy at risk by diverting needed state dollars away from these medically frail patients.”

“These Georgia Chamber policies, if adopted, will do lasting damage to our state’s taxpayers and the enrollees themselves by trapping them in a new welfare program, ” Spencer said. “This is the worst kind of social and economic engineering I have seen.”

The Georgia Chamber outlined three alternative proposals Wednesday for using federal funds from the Affordable Care Act to essentially expand Medicaid coverage of childless adults who fall below the federal poverty level.

The Chamber proposals would require recipients to make co-payments and pay part of the premium costs of Medicaid coverage. Their plan is similar to a program adopted in Arkansas and would require a waiver from the federal government.

The decision on whether or not to expand Medicaid coverage rests with the Legislature under the provisions of a bill passed in 2014.

Democratic lawmakers, who hold about one-third of the seats in the House and Senate, already support Medicaid expansion. The final decision depends upon whether more Republicans take the position held by Unterman or by Spencer.

© 2016 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Affordable Care Act , Jason Spencer , Medicaid expansion , Renee Unterman