Saturday, September 1, 2012

Healthy Georgians Not Desirable for Deal

Gov. Nathan Deal’s decision not to expand Medicaid, as outlined under the Affordable Care Act. was quoted as saying he supported the idea of a ‘’block grant’’ approach to Medicaid. That proposal would result in the federal government giving a fixed amount of Medicaid dollars to the state, which would then gain more flexibility on how to spend that money.

The Georgia Hospital Association expressed support for a block grant approach in an interview Tuesday with Georgia Health News, and it was included the group’s view in two articles on the governor’s decision. GHA on Friday issued a statement to Georgia Health News adjusting its position on block grants. Here it is in full:

“A pair of recent Georgia Health News articles stated that GHA supports block grants to address the needs of the state’s Medicaid population.

“After a closer examination, GHA is not prepared to take an official position in support of block grants since many questions remain regarding exactly how the grants would work.

“Meanwhile, under the new federal health care act, hospitals face billions of dollars in federal cuts even if Medicaid is not expanded, which places hospitals in an untenable position.  We recognize the budget challenges our state is facing and are committed to work with Governor Deal and lawmakers to find solutions that work best for all.”

Deal spokesman Brian Robinson, though, told the Associated Press, ‘‘Today, the governor said if the state’s only options remain the ones that are available today, he would oppose taking part in the expanded Medicaid program.’’

Robinson, asked by Georgia Health News on Wednesday to clarify his remarks, said in an email that the governor would reassess his expansion decision if Medicaid were changed to a ‘‘block grant’’ approach.

That change, advocated by the GOP vice presidential nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, would give a state a lump sum of federal money for Medicaid, while the state would gain more flexibility in deciding how to spend it. A state could then -death panel?- decide whom to cover and what benefits to offer, thus changing the nature of the Medicaid entitlement.

An expansion, as outlined in the Affordable Care Act, would add more than 600,000 Georgians to the Medicaid rolls, starting in 2014. The federal government would pay 100 percent of the costs in the first three years, and 90 percent thereafter, with the state picking up the remaining tab.

A block grant approach, Robinson said, could allow Georgia ‘‘to use the federal portion to expand Medicaid and not have to chip in a state share, which in the governor’s view is unaffordable.’’

SB 31 and ACA
Opponents of ACA in Georgia are condemning the "tax issue" but nobody is making any effort to repeal SB 31 which imposes a tax to consumers of Georgia Power to pay for the construction of two reactors in Plant Vogtle. While supporters of SB 31 are trying not to see the similarity in the state mandate, at least they could try to see that nuclear plants are health hazard if they cannot see as a risk for humanity.

It is seems clear that the health of georgians is not a priority for the state government. While cutting budgets in education, health, public transportation and security, nobody is hesitating in providing more taxpayers money to the Prison Industrial Complex, Military Industrial Complex and the Nuclear Industrial Complex.


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