Minority Leader of the Georgia House, James Beverly, D-Macon, speaks during a press conference at the Coverdell Legislative Office Building on Wednesday, March 29, 2023 in Atlanta. (Photo: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice)

Governor Brian Kemp and Members of the Republican-led legislature have made Medicaid a priority. But not a priority that fairly and appropriately serves the needs of the people of Georgia. Republican legislation being proposed this session seems intently focused on limiting the types of coverage Medicaid provides; creating more stringent requirements for access; and reducing the number of people enrolled in Medicaid, as much as possible. The ongoing refusal to expand Medicaid in Georgia is expected to leave 400,000 qualifying people without healthcare. Alternatively, the Governor is seeking to limit coverage to just 50,000 people, creating a niche market of recipients based on an individual’s ability to meet certain work requirements.

These callous GOP efforts are in opposition to the interest and prosperity of the people of our state, and beg several questions why:

  1. Why is the GOP refusing to expand Medicaid and limit coverage to all who qualify?
  2. Why is the GOP ignoring the overwhelming majority of Georgians, both Democrats (84%) and Republicans (65%), who view Medicaid favorably?
  3. Why is the GOP comfortable with GA having the third-highest number of people without health insurance in the country?
  1. Why is the GOP willing to allow more than a quarter million people to fall victim to the Medicaid coverage gap?
  2. Why is the GOP willing to deny expanded coverage even if doing so costs more than continued care?
Minority Leader of the Georgia House of Representatives, Dr. James Beverly, D-Macon, delivers a portion of the Democratic Party’s response to the annual State of State Address inside the Georgia State Capitol on Wednesday, January 25, 2023. (Photo: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice)

The impact of Republican inaction will be felt for years to come. Georgians deserve quality healthcare because the numbers don’t lie:
●  2,357,625 Georgians enrolled in Medicaid

●  18% of GA population covered by Medicaid

●  32% of GA population is low income

●  5th highest Medicaid enrollment

Those elected officials who seek to downplay the value of Medicaid, create arbitrary barriers to coverage, and act against the financial well-being of the state can’t dispute the facts. For example, an estimated 545,000 Georgians are expected to lose Medicaid when the Public Health Emergency (PHE) expires.

These efforts suggest members of the Georgia GOP are engaging in dereliction of duties and could use a stern reminder of the duties they vowed to uphold. All members of the Georgia Legislature committed to an of oath office which states:

“I do hereby solemnly swear or affirm that I will support the Constitution of this state and of the United States and, on all questions and measures which may come before me, I will so conduct myself, as will, in my judgment, be most conducive to the interests and prosperity of this state.”

Those words are of particular importance when it comes to the health and well-being of the people of our state, and the ability to provide access to quality affordable healthcare for all. The GOP-controlled state government continues to advocate ways to reduce care for the most marginalized members of our population including black and brown people, low-income wage earners, and the elderly.

In this basic test of human decency to address the needs of the Georgians they were elected to serve, Republicans are failing. Their efforts contrast with the current trajectory of both the nation and Georgia; because in 2021 the number of people who lacked health care coverage dropped to 8.6%, a historic number last seen in 2016. But when the Medicaid unwinding begins in April and people become unenrolled this progress could be reversed. However, edits to the Republican approach to healthcare are still possible if they answer to the facts and provide Georgians with the healthcare they need and deserve.