Posted: 2:55 pm Thursday, March 20th, 2014

The Republican state senator who endorsed Medicaid expansion 

By Jim Galloway

Buried in the storm of bills shoved through the Legislature on Tuesday was a late-night surprise – for those paying attention.

During debate on HB 990, members of the Senate suddenly found themselves listening to a Republican – Chuck Hufstetler of Rome — advocating for the expansion of Medicaid.

Sammy Jones of Georgia Public Broadcasting kindly dug through the GPB archives and produced the above clip.

No, Hufstetler doesn’t have any opposition this year. But it was still stunning to hear a Republican commit GOP apostacy. It’s worth listening to Hufstetler’s entire presentation, but here’s a few tidbits:

“I fought the Affordable Care Act and believe the program as a whole is detrimental to our country. The individual mandate, which I hoped would be invalidated by the Supreme Court, was not. But President Obama has given so many waivers that, for all practical purposes, it’s gone.”

Hufstetler cited the list of Republican governors in Arizona, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and Utah who have made accomodations with the Affordable Care Act. He also pointed out that Clayton County was considering a $50 million SPLOST to keep its local regional hospital afloat – to replace Medicaid dollars being spurned by Georgia. To continue:

“I believe this transfer of wealth is going to hurt Georgia as numerous studies by Kaiser, the University of Georgia, and Georgia State have pointed out. Our stance is hurting our state, but we’re not lowering the federal deficit. I just don’t believe that it’s consistent, after sending the Medicaid Financing Act last year to the Department of Community Health and the executive branch – that we now want to take control of Medicaid expansion, as we go into recess for the rest of the year, without a single hearing on Medicaid expansion in the last two years….

“I am concerned that my party is going to lose thousands of health care workers and independent voters over this. The majority of Georgians do oppose Obamacare, but six out of 10 believe we ought to expand Medicaid. There is a difference between the two.”

Hufstetler voted against HB 990, which passed the Senate on a vote of 35-19. He was the only Republican to do so.

6 comments
rcsr
rcsr

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MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

". . . listening to a Republican – Chuck Hufstetler of Rome — advocating for the expansion of Medicaid. . . .  Hufstetler voted against HB 990, which passed the Senate on a vote of 35-19. He was the only Republican to do so."

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FINALLY, a Republican legislator in Georgia who has the courage to stand alone and who, also, has the heart and mind to say what needed to be said about the value of expanding Medicaid, publicly.  Well done.

Vote Democratic, Georgians, except vote, also, for Republican Chuck Hufstetler from Rome, whose name I will not forget.  I did not expect a man of such courage from the Republican Party in Georgia, but I am glad to see it.

DS
DS

I believe this transfer of wealth is going to hurt Georgia as numerous studies by Kaiser, the University of Georgia, and Georgia State have pointed out.

Well, it's encouraging that at least one Republican is actually doing his homework on this program. I'm also impressed that Hufstetler can apparently think for himself and make up his own mind about what would be best for his constituents, rather than just blindly following along with whatever his caucus leaders tells him to do.

Ralph-43
Ralph-43

Why do you say it is 'stunning' to hear a Republican, Hufstetler, support Medicaid Expansion.  He cited multiple state Republican leaders who have concluded that it is foolish to throw away their state's funding, damage hospitals, and create difficulty for both the uninsured patient and the healthcare providers?  This is so straight forward, as pointed out in the speech, that only a fool would insist on blocking it.  Yes, the voters will note the decision - that's the way democracy works.  The Centrist - still wishing for a dictatorship - will never accept the will of the majority or even common sense.  He still wishes to be part of the slave-owning Oligarchy portrayed in the fictitious 'Gone With The Wind'. 

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

"I am concerned that my party is going to lose thousands of health care workers and independent voters over this."

See, Republicans want to buy very expensive votes too. Just not enough of them.

Not surprised to see this get a mention here, though.  No doubt where the AJC Democrats stand.

RobertoEmails
RobertoEmails

@Ralph-43  it is stunning to hear a Republican because no other Georgian Republican has even considered support Medicaid expansion, disregarding how beneficial it is for Georgia. In fact, Governor Deal has considered limiting access to Emergency Rooms rather than expand Medicaid. House Speaker Ralston has expressed his lack of support to Medicaid expansion too. The state Republican leaders mentioned in the video are not from the south, and no other Republican from Georgia has made any consideration in support of Medicaid expansion, despite being so beneficial for the state. Governor Deal could have accepted the expansion (on the likes of Governor Brewer and  the other Governors mentioned here). Instead, he chose to pass the bucket, and put the decision in the state Congress. Make your own conclusions.