Why We MUST Expand Medicaid in Georgia

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Without a doubt, healthcare in America is a serious crisis. Although we've made great strides in moving the uninsured rate to zero, Republican policies at the local and state level have kept our state in a relative purgatory, lacking options for basic care in many areas.

This really comes down to a few primary causes, all of which are things that I intend to change when I earn your vote and am elected to the General Assembly. This isn't just a matter of "it would be nice to have..." Healthcare is essential. Without your health, work becomes impossible. Families are burdened and the public is endangered.

It's especially awful for anyone starting a small business or working as an independent contractor — which is a huge issue in terms of the entertainment industry, one of the biggest growing industries in the state. These are hard-working people who need our help. So these are the reasons we have to expand Medicaid in Georgia.

1. Fiscal Responsibility

Currently, Medicaid has been expanded in 32 other states and the District of Columbia. Georgia has not. However, we are still paying taxes into the system, and have been the entire time. So that means that from day one, Georgia has been sending its money to states like New York and California. We have failed to secure this basic funding for the people in our state and we have paid a terrible price for it. But more on that in a second.

You would never walk into a grocery store, purchase your cart's worth of food and then just leave it in the parking lot when you drive away. But that's EXACTLY what Georgia has been doing with Medicaid. It isn't smart, nor is it responsible in the least bit.

2. More Jobs than Amazon

For a while now, we've all been inundated with stories about how Amazon is looking for a place for its "HQ2," or second headquarters, and that they were considering Atlanta. This is great and we should all applaud economic expansion in Georgia. They are claiming it will bring in an extra 50,000 jobs.

But there's a way that the General Assembly could add even more jobs than that — but they have been selfishly withholding this for partisan ideological reasons. And those reasons have been hurting Georgians for years.

See, expanding Medicaid will bring in OVER 50,000 high-paying jobs. These will be nurses and doctors, healthcare professionals, support staff, and everything that entails. And this is all over the state — not just clustered in one single place. This matters because we all have family all over this state. In fact, the majority of our elderly populations live in more rural or suburban communities where hospitals have been dwindling and dying off. There are so many Georgians now who not only have no health insurance, but even if they had insurance, their closest provider is hours away.

All of this could have been alleviated YEARS ago by a responsible state legislature. We haven't had one of those in decades.

3. Greater Economic Output

What could an extra $6.5 billion in revenue do for Georgia's bottom line? Well, that's what I would love to find out! Also, this is what we've been thumbing our collective nose at ever since our state Republicans have refused to expand Medicaid.

For years, they have held us back. That is a staggering amount for our state. That's money that will pay construction workers to build bigger wings on hospitals, help new small businesses like sign and print shops, and all the while Georgians all over the state will have access to higher quality healthcare.

Why have Republicans been opposing this again?

4. Closing the Medicaid Gap

By failing to expand Medicaid, the GOP created a situation where over 240,000 Georgians make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but make too little to receive financial assistance from the Affordable Care Act. This is known as the Medicaid Gap and it's a terrifying place to be.

In this gap, families making under $29,000 a year are expected to pay the same rates for insurance as families bringing in over $83,000 a year. That is abhorrent and inexcusable.

5. We aren't heartless monsters.

This is the most important reason. You know who stands to gain the most from Medicaid expansion? Kids.

Now, sure, there are programs (despite the GOP's attempt to kill them off) that exist to provide poor children with healthcare access. But that's just a drop in the bucket. Healthcare in an industrialized nation in the year 2018 is a basic right. Medicine isn't about money, it's about humanity.

In order to work, people need to be well. There's a reason that the military makes sure to cover healthcare, dental care, meals and clothing for service members — those are the four basic things you need to live and exist in this world. It's no different for everyone else.

This is the challenge of our time, by which we will be judged by our descendants. We have the technology, we have the money in our nation and state, we have the ability. All we have lacked for the past few years is the courage to do what is right. That ends now.

This is just one of the many reasons that I'm running for office — but I think it's an important one. For more, check out where I stand on other major issues as well.

Beth Moore