Posted: 10:13 am Thursday, February 13th, 2014

House GOP: Take Medicaid expansion away from governor 

By Jim Galloway, Greg Bluestein and Daniel Malloy

032812legabortion01

Speaker pro tem Jan Jones, R-Milton, left, Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge are the sponsors of a bill that would put Medicaid expansion in the hands of the Legislature. AJC file

Just before the state Capitol shut down on Tuesday, House GOP leaders dropped a bill that would take the power to expand Georgia’s Medicaid program and place it in the hands of the Legislature.

In other words, the governor of Georgia would no longer have a free hand in negotiating with the White House over a deal – as has been cut in Arkansas and elsewhere — that would broaden health care coverage with the billions of federal dollars that are being made available through the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare.

Your daily jolt on politics from the AJC's Political insider blogAs such, consider H.B. 990 the most important bill of the 2014 session.

The lead signatures on the bill: Speaker pro tem Jan Jones of Milton; Speaker David Ralston of Blue Ridge; and Majority Leader Larry O’Neal of Bonaire.

From the bill:

[N]either the department, the board, nor any other representative of the state shall expand Medicaid eligibility under this article through an increase in the income threshold without prior legislative approval.”

In an interview from a downtown Atlanta apartment, where he is waiting out the storm, the House speaker said the measure is not a power grab, nor an expression of doubt in Gov. Nathan Deal’s re-election.

Or concern that Republican control of the governorship may slip after Deal.

Ralston pointed to a fourth signature on the bill, belonging to Chad Nimmer, R-Blackshear, the governor’s floor leader, as evidence that Deal is on board with the effort.

“I’m totally confident that Nathan Deal is going to be re-elected governor. This is simply an opportunity for the Legislature to stake out the issue as policy,” Ralston said. “I have no concern about Republican governor getting elected this year, four years from now, or eight years from now.”

Tim Sweeney, director of health policy for the center-left Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, declared himself startled that the Legislature would stake out the territory at the expense of the executive branch.

“Seeing the bill was a little surprising, given that just last year the Legislature was giving the Department of Community Health taxing authority,” Sweeney said.

Updated: At a presser to address the aftermath of the ice storm, I asked the governor if he was indeed on board with ceding the power to expand Medicaid to the Legislature. “I’m fine with that, yeah,” Deal replied — clearly preoccupied with other matters.

One thing to note in the language of H.B. 990: The bill would not give the Legislature the power to reduce Medicaid coverage in Georgia. Only expand.

***

On that same note, the Washington Post notes this milestone for Obamacare:

For the first time since the federal and state health-insurance marketplaces opened early last fall, the number of people who signed up for coverage exceeded the government’s expectations for the month in January, bringing the overall total to about 3.3 million.

Across the country, nearly 1.2 million people enrolled in health plans last month through the new insurance exchanges — more than federal officials had envisioned when they compiled monthly targets late last summer, weeks before the sign-ups began.

***

Given the sudden push to allow medicinal marijuana in Georgia, this New York Times op-ed by Orrin Devinsky and Daniel Friedman, physicians at the NYU Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, is required reading. A taste:

The truth is we lack evidence not only for the efficacy of marijuana, but also for its safety. This concern is especially relevant in children, for whom there is good evidence that marijuana use can increase the risk of serious psychiatric disorders and long-term cognitive problems.

The recent wave of state legislatures considering and often approving medical marijuana raises significant concerns. By allowing marijuana therapy for patients with diseases such as difficult-to-control epilepsy, are state legislatures endorsing the medical benefits and safety of a broad range of marijuana species and strains before they have been carefully tested and vetted?

***

An LGBT rights group has joined the liberal chorus against Michael Boggs to serve as a federal judge from Georgia.

The statement last night from the Rev. Darlene Nipper, deputy executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, started with praise for recent Obama administration nominees in Illinois and Florida, who would become the second openly lesbian black federal judge and first openly gay black federal judge, respectively. Nipper ended the message on this note:

“However, the nomination of Georgia State Appeals Court Judge Michael P. Boggs— who has a deeply troubling track record as a Georgia state legislator having voted against changing Georgia’s racist Confederate flag, against marriage equality for same-sex couples, and against reproductive choice — is both surprising and disappointing.

“We urge the President to withdraw this nomination and continue his outstanding record by nominating a slate of diverse jurists that share his vision of a just and free society.”

Among LGTB groups, the Human Rights Campaign carries the most clout. A spokesman there told us Wednesday that “We generally don’t make a determination about a nominee until a hearing but we’ll let you know if anything changes.”

It’s worth noting here that nominees typically remain silent during the confirmation process, and Boggs’ allies will likely have to prepare a public counteroffensive.

***

Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., was on the Senate floor on Wednesday, offering praise to former Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox:

Isakson spent a good deal of time explaining Cox’s record for ejections:

“Bobby Cox fought for his players. He knew how to motivate the crowd. He knew how to get on an umpire’s back. He knew how to turn the team bench around. His 132nd ejection took place in November of 2007 in a game – one of the playoff games – when he went out and argued a third called strike against his star player Chipper Jones. Two innings later the Braves rallied and won.”

96 comments
Beau1500
Beau1500

Hey EdUktr and 789456 - where'd  ja go???

Beau1500
Beau1500

@EdUktr - o by the way that means that the most people who are OC and have not paid for it could be at the most 8% of the total  #of people who  have signed  up.  (in case you can't do the math )which I am assuming you can't.

Beau1500
Beau1500

@Educkter  once you sign up for obamacare you have 30 days to pay your first month's premium. If you don't  then your insurance is cancelled and you are taken off the roles.  I know, I signed up in December.

Beau1500
Beau1500

#789456    You stand corrected.

sim_namore
sim_namore

I'm glad to see Johnny come up with the hard-hitting stuff--yet again.  Go Johnny go go go somewhere else.


Beau1500
Beau1500

@789456 - Mary Elizabeth is exacttly correct.  And let me ask you one question - How much are the GA taxpayers paying to bring Hollywood to Buckhead.  I'm gonna bet you don't have a handle on that number. And I doubt if very few people in the state do.  Where would you rather see our money go - to helping poor people afford healthcare or giving our restaurateurs photo ops with the celebs???

Kamchak
Kamchak

New thread upstairs....

digdeep
digdeep

Bobby Cox was a very good Manager ...but come on Johnny come lately is that all you've got to do and aren't there more important things to occupy your pitiful mind?

789456
789456

Correct me if i'm wrong but isn't the push back on medicaid due to the fact that the federal dollars promised dry up after 2 years and the states are then stuck with the additional cost of all the new participants?

So the costs move from the feds to the states which means the taxpayers of GA will see a big increase to cover this.  

GWilson
GWilson

An estimated 2326 Georgians will die because of Deal's refusal to expand Medicaid

Many reputable organizations did studies showing the estimated number of deaths caused by the lack of health insurance during the debate on the Affordable Health Care Act (Obama Care).

Because Georgia so far has refused to expand the Medicaid program at federal expense to all qualifying Georgians, I wondered how many Georgians would die because of this failure. The Kaiser Family Foundation using a study by the Harvard School of Public Health came up with the number 2326 based on 409350 Georgians that would be covered with the expansion of Medicaid This number looks low because most projections are over 650,000 which would put the death rate even higher. The arguments that Governor Deal and other Republicans use are at best invalid, specious and ridiculous and are driven by right wing ideology rather than economic facts. Let's once again review the pluses for enacting Medicaid expansion in Georgia.

anothercomment
anothercomment

This shows how afraid they are we will have Gov. Jason Carter, in jan. 2015.

Starik
Starik

Another reflexive twitch in response to the encroachment of the modern world...single payer will come eventually, just as racial integration came to Georgia.

Bernie31
Bernie31

GOP House members trying to Provide Cover for their Failing Governors in 2014 & 2016. They are just NOW startiing to see the WRITING on The WALL!...... Too Little ...Too Late!......Its OVER!

uh..huh.

Bernie31
Bernie31

If Governor Deal were SMART. He would take the Medicaid Savings provided by the Federal Medicaid Expansion Plan and RE-TOOL and upgrade the State's Computer System for the Department of Medical Assistance and make it a STATE of the Art System that would be the envy of the Nation. 

This New SYSTEM upgrade if designed right and correctly would operate far more efficient and could provide Billions of savings of WASTE FRAUD and ABUSE for years to come. But this would be his best option...If The Governor were WISE and pocessed the gift of UNDERSTANDING. Never will the STATE of Georgia, ever get a chance to make a wholesale change to gain efficiency without spending Billions of its own STATE money to do so.

EdUktr
EdUktr

The only possible reason for the White House refusing to release figures on how many people have actually paid premiums for Obamacare—as opposed to merely signing up—is that the numbers would be embarrassing.

If Galloway were a journalist he'd join those calling for that data to be released.

Jack_Republican
Jack_Republican

The millions of dollars of Federal money that would be paid to Georgia for Medicaid expansion has to come from the pockets of taxpayers: It's simply another way to expand Obama's welfare program and it's another way for slackers to take advantage of responsible people.

Bernie31
Bernie31

GOP House members trying to Provide Cover for their Failing Governors in 2014 & 2016. They are just NOW startiing to see the WRITING on The WALL!...... Too Little ...Too Late!......Its OVER!

uh..huh.

honested
honested

Just title HB 990 the 'Poverty Perpetuation and Servitude Act' so they can err on the side of honesty.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

On, and on the header for the article:  The House is afraid of what will happen after Deal is defeated.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

We can accept federal aid for clean up--it is matching money--but we will not accept federal money for medical help for our poorest, which requires no match for 3 years, then a 10% match?!!!  Of course, the snow fell on all, even the rich. 

hamiltonAZ
hamiltonAZ

Would love to hear a rational explanation as to how expanding medicaid is bad for Georgia. 

CBO estimates show that the federal government will bear nearly 93 percent of the costs of the Medicaid expansion over its first nine years (2014-2022).  The federal government will pick up 100 percent of the cost of covering people made newly eligible for Medicaid for the first three years (2014-2016) and no less than 90 percent on a permanent basis. They say states would pay about 7 percent more over that 10 year period than if there were no ACA. 

This 7 percent does not take into account the savings in other health care costs states wouldn't have to pay and doesn't account for the velocity of the federal money infusion.

 Medicaid expansion is expected to bring $36 billion in direct federal funds to the state and have a cumulative impact of $72 billion on the economy over the next 10 years.

 A decision not to go ahead with the Medicaid expansion, despite these benefits, would have adverse consequences for many poor individuals and families without health insurance.

 These Georgians matter.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

Another correction.  My apologies. Still used to being able to edit, after posting.


Not "more open, more inclusive, and more inhuman political agenda, but "more open, more inclusive, and more humane political agenda"

AuntieChrist
AuntieChrist

The quote from the op-ed piece that is referenced above gives the impression that the Dr's are suspicious of the medicinal benefits of MJ. Such is not the case. Here is the operative paragraph from their op-ed:

To foster research, we need to change compounds derived from marijuana from Schedule 1 to a less restrictive category. It is troubling that while few barriers exist for parents to give their children marijuana in Colorado, there are significant federal roadblocks preventing doctors from studying it in a rigorous scientific manner.

In other words, it is the short-sighted insistence by our 'wise' solons to maintain MJ as a Schedule 1 substance(i.e. Supposedly having no medicinal benefits) that impedes and prevents the studies that would show that it does have medicinal benefit.

Surely, the $Millions contributed by big Pharma every year to our bought-and-paid-for legislators would have nothing to do with their intransigence would it?

DS
DS

@789456  The push back is that conservatives don't want another government program success story. It would fly in the face of their recurring theme: government bad---let's tear it down.

The conservative columnist Bill Kristol wrote a famous memo in 1993 to say that conservatives must kill health care reform at all costs because it would be a huge setback for conservative ideology. A successful government program would be inconvenient for their cause.

But it's too late. Three million have signed up for Obamacare, and it's estimated that 6 million will have signed up by end of March. Game over.

Some conservatives are still trying to hang on to credibility with their base by opposing Medicaid expansion. Doesn't make sense if you look at the numbers---Medicaid expansion is a great deal. That's why Jan Brewer, conservative governor of Arizona, accepted Medicaid expansion. She figured independent voters might look at the numbers, and she'd have some 'splainin to do if she didn't accept expansion.

Georgia conservatives are betting there aren't enough independent voters in the state who would look at or understand the numbers. That's why they're still fighting, even though it's a lost cause.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@789456


No, the federal government will pay 100% the first few years, and 90% thereafter.  The money the federal government has to pay for this expanded Medicaid comes from your taxes and from mine.  When we don't accept this money back, as a part of expanded Medicaid, our money is sent to other states in the union which do accept the Medicaid expansion for its citizens and which receive at least 90% from Obamacare's plan, as a result. 


Georgians are losing money, and jobs, and hospitals, as well as keeping 650,000 lower income working Georgians from receiving medical insurance when we refuse to expand Medicaid as a part of Obamacare.

Kamchak
Kamchak

@789456  

...federal dollars promised dry up after 2 years..

Actually it's 3 years and if by "dry up" you mean drop to 90%, then yeah.

CherokeeCounty
CherokeeCounty

Sorry but this is just the latest dumb Fox meme - my two daughters signed up, and it's easy, but it does take some time.

Why would anyone go through the trouble of entering the information, choosing a plan, and then not follow through?  Sure there may be a few... but it won't be too many...

AuntieChrist
AuntieChrist

@EdUktrIf Galloway were a journalist he'd join those calling for that data to be released.

By "those calling for that data to be released," you mean you, right? And who else exactly? (other than Galloway, that is. I'm sure he rushed out to call for that data to be released, as soon as he read your comment).

Kamchak
Kamchak

@EdUktr  

The only possible reason for the White House refusing to release figures on how many people have actually paid premiums for Obamacare—as opposed to merely signing up—is that the numbers would be embarrassing.

Got proof?

And please, show your work.

Thanks in advance, sport.

AuntieChrist
AuntieChrist

@Jack_Republican The Trillions of dollars of Federal money that were paid to haliburton had to come from the pockets of taxpayers: It was simply another way to expand the military-industrial welfare program and it's another way for the military-industrial complex to take advantage of paranoid, stupid people.

ctfatlanta
ctfatlanta

@Jack_Republican  What's your definition of a slacker?  A big chunk of the people who would be covered are working regular jobs that don't pay a whole lot and that don't offer health care coverage.  When they get sick, they have to go somewhere and that is often our hospitals.  Plus their lack of access to healthcare leads to neglecting minor medical issues which become major and more costly.


All the studies show that expanding Medicaid saves tax payer money in the long haul, helps to have a healthier population, which means a healthy work force, etc.

Bernie31
Bernie31

@Jack_Republican You would most likely consider Yourself a God Fearing Christian Man  and faithful follower of the Teachings and principles of Jesus Christ too! 

But this is what Jesus would say.... about you. " I Never Knew You". For Your Voting habits do not match your words or deeds.

AuntieChrist
AuntieChrist

@Wascatlady We can accept federal aid for clean up--it is matching money--but we will not accept federal money for medical help for our poorest,

Simple enough to figure out,  with disaster clean-up comes the opportunity for awarding big money contracts for campaign contributors, patronage to those county commissioners who support the powerful, and a way to punish those who don't play footsie with those in power. (see christy, chris) Obviously, the poor do not fall into this category, so they can just die as far as the jawja gubner is concerned. 

If only deal and company consulted rick scott in FL to learn how they can bilk the Feds out of $$Billions in false medicaid/medicare claims and never see a jail house, maybe they would expand Medicaid here.

honested
honested

@hamiltonAZ  

It's simple, allowing for adequate healthcare coverage and appropriate funding to the downtrodden does not include sufficient additional hardship and dehumanizing.

There is no place in republican-world for elimination of suffering for those who do not make campaign contributions.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@hamiltonAZ


Yes, these Georgians do matter.  But, remember that the Republican political ideology has been for decades to "drown the beast of government" so that most governmental services become privatized to benefit corporate interests.  Republican leaders see that, although Obamacare is not government implemented as is Medicare but is made up of private insurance exchanges, Obamacare will be the first step toward governmental regulatory control of this private insurance market.  Thus, these Republican legislators oppose Obamacare, regardless of how much their opposing Obamacare will hurt individuals who, as you say, "matter".


Again, this Republican ideology is influenced in state legislators across the nation through ALEC, which joins together mainly Republican legislators and CEOs of corporations for the purpose of perpetuating corporate interests. 

Baumer_1
Baumer_1

@AuntieChrist  


I don't know a Democrat who believes marijuana should be illegal...of those I know who oppose medical marijuana only do so because they want it completely decriminalized. Similar to how they opposed the ACA for not going far enough.


After all, each of those states considering (or having done so) legalization are Blue...not Red.

789456
789456

@Kamchak @789456  

Thanks for the clarification, since you seem to have a good handle on it a few questions:

What % does the fed pay now?

Have you seen the calculations on how many dollars GA will have to put up after the 3 years.  

Thanks

AuntieChrist
AuntieChrist

@CherokeeCounty"Sorry but this is just the latest dumb Fox meme -"

There are not enough farmers in America to keep up with the demand for straw from pox news, for the straw men they constantly put before their low info voters.

Baumer_1
Baumer_1

Whatever. If the data were released you would be crying about privacy violations or some otger nonsense

EdUktr
EdUktr

Readers: Join me in stopping ALEC from hiding under MaryElizabeth's bed at night and tormenting the poor thing! 

... and therefore the rest of us by proxy.

AuntieChrist
AuntieChrist

@Baumer_1 @AuntieChrist Many polls show that support for legalization/decriminalization among Dems runs only about 55%, so it is not a foregone conclusion that Dems will solidly support its legalization. Here are some facts and opinions from around the internets regarding it as an issue in '14 and '16:

*******************************

The New Hampshire House voted Wednesday to legalize up to 1 ounce of marijuana for recreational use by adults over 21.  Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) told reporters that she would veto the bill. (It 'sends the wrong message to young people, she said. (apparently the governor has never watched a ball game on TV, where every 5 minutes a commercial says "buy a keg of our stuff, and party til you puke"))

The Democratic governors of Washington and Colorado didn’t even support initiatives to legalize the possession, distribution, and consumption of marijuana, even though the initiatives ultimately prevailed by clear margins. It took the Obama administration ten months to announce—in the middle of the Syria debate—that the Department of Justice wouldn’t pursue legal action against Washington and Colorado. 

Any liberal rival to Hillary Clinton in 2016 will have every incentive to support marijuana legalization. Whether Clinton will follow suit is harder to say, given that frontrunners (and Clintons) are generally pretty cautious. It’s probably more likely that Clinton would endorse steps toward liberalization, like weaker criminal penalties and support for the legalization experiments in Washington and Colorado.

*************************

So while your statement that Dems support decriminalization, it is the rank and file doing so, while our "leaders" remain tepid and spineless on the issue, and while their approach will not result in criminal records for those possessing MJ, in many states, users will be subject to fines, and community service sentences. 

Since our 'leaders' won't lead on this issue, it will be up to us to force them to.

Kamchak
Kamchak

@789456

What % does the fed pay now?

I dunno.

 Have you seen the calculations on how many dollars GA will have to put up after the 3 years.

No. 

AuntieChrist
AuntieChrist

@EdUktr I would not exactly characterize this blurb from your link as "calling for that data to be released," but I don't view life through the fog of conservatism either. I'll let others jusdge whether this constitutes "calling for that data to be released."

How many people have paid their premiums? The White House is reporting numbers on how many people have enrolled in coverage on the exchanges, but not how many have paid for it. People won’t have coverage if they don’t pay their bills. The lack of data on this question also reflects the technical hurdles still ahead for healthcare.gov, including building a system to send subsidy payments to insurance companies. “As soon as we have our automated payment systems complete and tested, we believe we’ll be able to provide you additional data in terms of those consumers who have paid their premiums,” HHS spokeswoman Julie Bataille told reporters.

Kamchak
Kamchak

@AuntieChrist

I generally try not to speak on behalf of others, but I felt that should have been addressed. I was also pretty sure I was correct.

Kamchak
Kamchak

@Baumer_1

...your beloved GOP...

You seem to be laboring under the misapprehension that Auntie Christ is a conservative.

Baumer_1
Baumer_1

@AuntieChrist @Baumer_1  


by not trusting polls on this topic I mean that I expect there to be very different responses between the poll and a private conversation.  


And fyi, I just checked your numbers and they are way off.  Dems support at 62%, "independents" at 59%, and Republicans at 36%.  

Baumer_1
Baumer_1

@AuntieChrist @Baumer_1  


Since when do your expect politicians to state their honest opinion?  No one pays attention to the rank and file...that is how they can get away with being honest.  Also, I am pretty sure the govs of CO and WA has flipped on the issue. In fact, Gov Inslee has been lavishing the Obama Admin for being cool with their decision.


On topics like this I also don't exactly trust polling.  


I don't know how to force "our leaders" on this issue.  The GOP is against it...so elections won't help.  I live in Oregon now and  we are considering legalization...the vote in the Judiciary committee was split along party lines: 3 Dems in favor, 2 GOPers opposed...and our gov has supported it.  


It doesn't change the fact that your beloved GOP is adamantly opposed and the only states doing anything about are democratic states.  


The best way to do anything about it...I guess, is to vote with your feet. You want legal weed? Leave GA.  Nothing is changing there.