Georgia fighting another lost cause over Obamacare

An estimated 500,000 Georgians have already been denied health insurance through Medicaid because Georgia leaders have refused to allow the program to expand in this state.

If the Supreme Court rules in June that Obamacare subsidies are legal only in those states that have established their own insurance exchanges, another 500,000 currently insured Georgians are likely to be stripped of the subsidies that make coverage affordable. If that happens — and the odds appear to be about 50-50 — then the number of Georgians denied access to health insurance by their own state officials will total roughly one million.

One million Georgians denied access to decent care that they would otherwise have. One million Georgians, unable to pay doctors and hospitals for whatever care they do manage to receive.

In practical terms, Georgia’s refusal to participate in a health-insurance expansion that Georgia residents are helping to finance through their federal taxes has never made sense. It has cost the state economy billions of dollars and thousands of jobs and increased the financial stress on rural hospitals in desperate need of patients who can pay their bills. But initially, that refusal could at least be justified in conservative political terms.

Nationwide, conservatives have wanted nothing more than to kill Obamacare. In the context of an all-out war to repeal the law and undercut it by any means necessary, it made a certain amount of political sense for red-state leaders to refuse to cooperate in its implementation. The problem is, that effort is no longer feasible. The law is here to stay:

  • According to the latest health-care tracking poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the percentage of Americans who view Obamacare unfavorably has dropped by 11 points just since November, with supporters now barely outnumbering those who don't like the law. Just 29 percent of Americans now say they want the law repealed.

  • Another new poll — this one from Bloomberg News — reports similar findings. Just 35 percent of Americans in that poll say that they believe Obamacare should be repealed, while 63 percent say they believe it should be preserved with small modifications or kept as it is.
  • Most important of all, Gallup reports that the percentage of American residents without health insurance has fallen by a third in less than two years, with less than 12 percent now uncovered. Many of those without coverage at this point are either illegal immigrants who are ineligible for Obamacare or working-class Americans in states such as Georgia that have refused to expand Medicaid.

Overall, some 20 million previously uninsured Americans now have health coverage as a direct result of Obamacare, with millions more expected to benefit next year. Those numbers — combined with the fact that barely a third of Americans support repeal — mean the law is here to stay. Fighting for its repeal by continuing to deny its benefits to your own people is a lost cause, and while we have a historical fondness for lost causes in these parts, the price is no longer worth it.