PUBLIC COMMENT MEETING ON HEALTHCARE


On Monday Nov 18, a meeting was held in Gainesville by the STATE of Georgia to hear public comments on Kemp’s new Health Care Plan. Leigh Miller and Laura Colaninno attended this meeting. Kemp’s Health Care Plan will cost more and cover fewer people than the extending the ACA.

Click Here to read an article in the AJC

Please comment on this new plan. at https://medicaid.georgia.gov/patientsfirst OR

Lavinia Luca, c/o Board of Community Health, PO Box 1966, Atlanta GA 30301-1966

A Brittany Butler, a student from UGA, spoke at the meeting and she agreed to share her comments on 1115 Medicaid Waiver.

            Healthcare in the United States continues to be a civil rights issue. Amitabh Chandra, the Malcolm Weiner Professor of Social Policy at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), argues that there continues to be inadequate healthcare for minority patients, especially African-Americans. This is revealed through data related to hospital visits and medical treatment of minority patients. Research also shows that the impact of race on health stems from differences in access to resources and opportunities that can help or enhance health. According to the Henry Kaiser Family Foundation, as of October 2019, 32% of Georgia’s population is low-income. In Georgia, 17% of the population is covered by Medicaid, which is designed to provide healthcare to low-income households. The racial breakdown of Medicaid enrollees is 40% white, 46% black, and 13% other, while Georgia’s demographics are about 60% white, about 32% black, and 8% other. Based on statistics, while African-Americans make up only about 30% of the total Georgia population, we make up the majority of Medicaid enrollees in this state. Statistically speaking, there is a racial divide in Medicaid, thus making healthcare a civil rights issue.

            Section 1115 Medicaid waivers allow states the opportunity to test new approaches to Medicaid that differ from what’s required by federal law. These waivers allow states to use federal Medicaid and CHIP funds in whatever way they would like, as long as they can prove it is an “experimental, pilot, or demonstration project that’s likely to assist in promoting the objectives of the program.” This allows states to make changes to Medicaid eligibility, benefits and cost-sharing, and provider payments across their program. First and foremost, because healthcare is a partisan issue, and this state is Republican-led, the overall initiative in this experiment would be to cut back or place caps on Medicaid expansion. Governor Kemp has already promised to oppose any legislation that will expand Medicaid while there are 1.38 million Georgians who remain uninsured. Additionally, this would have detrimental effects on those who benefit most from Medicaid, specifically African-Americans. Additionally, Georgia has a history of discriminatory practices against minority groups, such as in the infringement of voter rights. Without federal oversight of the way Georgia is allocating their federal funds for Medicaid and CHIP, it is logical to assume that lawmakers will find a way to leave minority groups out of the benefits of the program as long as they can find a way to say it is serving the purpose of the program. For example, in other Republican-led states such as Washington, lawmakers have attempted to set a work requirement in exchange for Medicaid. In this case, a federal judge has already ruled that this is illegal because work requirements do not advance the purpose of the Medicaid law.

            Georgians should oppose the 1115 Medicaid waiver until the governor and state lawmakers find a way to make Medicaid a more expansive program to help the millions of uninsured Georgians that remain without access to healthcare in this state. Racism in healthcare persists, while it should be inclusive for everyone. African-Americans do not just make up the majority of the low-income population in Georgia just because they happen to. There are reasons why our community continues to suffer at the hands of its oppressors! Until we can do away with the discriminatory practices that affect life-and-death situations in our communities, we do not need to give biased lawmakers more power than they already have.

            “Georgia Population 2019.” Georgia Population 2019 (Demographics, Maps, Graphs), 2019 World Population Review, 2019, http://worldpopulationreview.com/states/georgia-population/.   

            Gibson, Katie. “Healthcare as a Civil Rights Issue.” Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard College, 8 June 2017, https://www.hks.harvard.edu/research-insights/policy-topics/health/healthcare-civil-rights-issue.

            Hart, Ariel, and Greg Bluestein. “Georgia Governor Signs Health Care Waiver Bill into Law.” Ajc, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 28 Mar. 2019, https://www.ajc.com/news/state–regional-govt–politics/georgia-governor-signs-health-care-waiver-bill-into-law/S19OvcyLsHnP2zJEZCk8JJ/#.

            Hinton, Elizabeth, et al. “Section 1115 Medicaid Demonstration Waivers: The Current Landscape of Approved and Pending Waivers.” The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Kaiser Family Foundation, 21 Feb. 2019, https://www.kff.org/medicaid/issue-brief/section-1115-medicaid-demonstration-waivers-the-current-landscape-of-approved-and-pending-waivers/.

            McCutchen, Kelly. “Who Are Georgia’s Uninsured?” Georgia Public Policy Foundation, Georgia Public Policy Foundation, 2019, https://www.georgiapolicy.org/issue/who-are-georgias-uninsured/.

            “Medicaid Enrollment by Race/Ethnicity.” The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Kaiser Family Foundation, 12 Dec. 2017, https://www.kff.org/medicaid/state-indicator/medicaid-enrollment-by-raceethnicity/?currentTimeframe=0&selectedRows={“states”:{“georgia”:{}}}&sortModel={“colId”:”Location”,”sort”:”asc”}.

             “Race, Racism and Health.” RWJF, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 21 Mar. 2019, https://www.rwjf.org/en/library/collections/racism-and-health.html.

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