Today, one day before the anniversary of the Medicaid program, the Democratic Party of Georgia hosted a virtual press conference with health care providers and patients from across the state to discuss the urgent need to expand Medicaid in Georgia.Speakers included State Senator Dr. Michelle Au, a metro Atlanta physician; Dr. Karen Kinsell, a physician in Clay County; Joyce Barlow, RN, a nurse in Albany; and Lauren Carter, an Atlanta small business owner who has experienced unstable insurance. They highlighted that while Georgia Republicans refuse to expand Medicaid, Georgia Democrats in Congress and the state legislature are fighting for quality, affordable health care for every single Georgian.
If Georgia were to expand Medicaid, more than 600,000 Georgians would be eligible for coverage, health outcomes would drastically improve, rural hospitals would get a lifeline to help keep their doors open, and Georgia would see a $6 billion per year economic boost. Read more about how Medicaid expansion would increase coverage, improve health outcomes, strengthen rural health care, and boost the economy in Georgia.
You can watch the full press conference here, and find speaker quotes below.
“A strong, productive, thriving society really depends on the health of all its members. Not only is investment in that healthy society morally and fiscally sound – we actually cannot afford the alternative,” said State Senator Dr. Michelle Au. “What we’ve seen in the decade since the passage of the ACA is that those states who have chosen to expand Medicaid have seen their health of their populations improve, and seen their health care costs go down. But our Republican leadership, led by Governor Brian Kemp, is playing partisan politics with people’s lives. There are few easy decisions in politics; but expanding Medicaid is one of those easy decisions. It’s a no-brainer for the state of Georgia, and it’s long past time to do the right thing.”
“We are losing our health care infrastructure in rural Southwest Georgia. So many people in this region don’t qualify for any help. About a third of my own patients are uninsured, and they can’t afford things – they just go without when they’re sick or injured. I had a patient today who needs home oxygen, but she can’t afford to buy it and there is no plan for her to get that,” said Dr. Karen Kinsell, a physician in Clay County. “I have to explain to my patients that if they lived in one of thirty-eight other states, they would already have a Medicaid card. It’s just not acceptable that so many people do not have access to basic health care. Over half a million people would benefit from expanding Medicaid in Georgia, like most other states have done, and it’s time to do this now.”
“Let me be plain and clear about it – there is a hospital desert here in Southwest Georgia. There are four hospitals that have closed since 2010. The loss of jobs and the infrastructure supporting jobs goes with the loss of a rural hospital; it affects the grocery store, the convenience store, the pharmacy, the farmer, the janitor, the electrician,” said Joyce Barlow, RN, a nurse in Albany. “We’re also witnessing and seeing the negative health outcomes of not having a local hospital in our rural counties. One gentleman in this region had a heart attack. Because we’re in a hospital desert with no place to take him, by the time he was transported to a further away hospital, they could not stabilize him, and he did not survive. These are preventable losses – they’re absolutely preventable if we had Medicaid expansion.”
“In 2009, when the recession happened, I, like many people, got laid off. When I went to apply for health insurance at that time, I had had too much income to qualify for Medicaid assistance, but I could no longer continue to afford my health care premium. So I found myself in a situation where I had no insurance. It became a daily choice of what was going to be the priority – was I going to pay my household expenses, or was I going to go to the doctor?” said Lauren Carter, an Atlanta small business owner who has experienced insurance instability. “We all deserve the right to have good, quality health care. But we have legislators and elected officials who have morally made a decision that they want to be on the wrong side of this issue. And they’ve made a decision that some of us just aren’t worth living. And that is reprehensible.”
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