Georgia House Democratic Caucus announces Medicaid expansion bill

A day after Gov. Nathan Deal reaffirmed his reluctance to expand Medicaid, House Democrats announced that continues to be one of their top legislative priorities.

Rep. Stacey Abrams, House Minority Leader, said 300,000 Georgians "earn too much to qualify for Medicaid as it exists now, but too little to qualify for healthcare subsidies available under the Affordable Care Act."

Another 178,000 Georgians who “qualify for subsidies but cannot afford them” receive no healthcare, Abrams said.

Passing the Expand Medicaid NOW Act would provide these nearly 500,000 Georgians access to healthcare, she said at a press conference announcing the 2016 legislative agenda of the House Democratic Caucus.

Issues on the Caucus’ agenda include legislation to raise conditions for military personnel and their families, to fully fund HOPE Grant for all recipients and to allow full-time employees to accrue paid sick leave.

Abrams said expansion of Medicaid would create 56,000 jobs over the next seven years, which is almost the same number of jobs 19 KIA plants would generate.

Abrams said a compromise between Democrats and Republicans may be possible, as shown by recent developments in other Southern states. On his first day as governor of Louisiana, Democrat John Edwards signed an executive order to expand Medicaid for working families in his state. Virginia’s Democratic governor, Terry McAuliffe, also announced his plan to push for Medicaid expansion.

“The governor of Alabama has acknowledged they may need to expand Medicaid. The Southern states, which have been the last to adopt Medicaid expansion, realize they can’t afford not to,” said Abrams.

In his State of the State address on Wednesday, Deal said expanding Medicaid would still be too costly for Georgia. The governor said the state would have to spend $2.1 million of the 2017 budget “just to turn in the paper work” that would be required.