Abrams' group airs TV ad pressing voters to ‘heal’ Georgia by ousting critics of Medicaid expansion

FILE - In this March 1, 2020, file photo, Stacey Abrams speaks at the unity breakfast in Selma, Ala. Abrams, the voting rights activist and former gubernatorial candidate in Georgia, also has a career in writing novels. Her next one, the Supreme Court thriller “While Justice Sleeps,” come out May 25. (AP Photo/Butch Dill, File)

Credit: Butch Dill

Credit: Butch Dill

The advocacy group launched by Stacey Abrams unveiled a $1 million ad campaign on Thursday urging voters to punish Gov. Brian Kemp and other Republicans at the ballot box for refusing to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

The 30-second Fair Fight spot, which will run on digital and television outlets, features a physician from rural Fort Gaines and another from Atlanta with the same message: Georgia faces a healthcare “crisis” worsened by the pandemic.

“Families are hurting. Hospitals are closing. People are dying. That’s why Georgia needs Medicaid expansion now,” the two say. “But Governor Kemp and the Republican leadership have done nothing but roll back our healing process. To heal we need to expand Medicaid, fund hospitals and create jobs.”

They close with a plea to vote this year: “Your vote can heal Georgia and save lives.”

The campaign coincides with a “special announcement” that Kemp will deliver Thursday afternoon involving state and federal officials instrumental in forming his “waiver” proposals to reshape health insurance in Georgia.

Abrams and other Democrats have long pushed for a full expansion of Medicaid, saying it would cover hundreds of thousands of uninsured Georgians, boost the state’s economy and shore up the flagging network of rural hospitals.

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09/30/2020 - Marietta, Georgia - Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp after greeting Vice President Mike Pence as he arrived on Air Force Two at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia, Wednesday, September 30, 2020. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Top Republicans, including Kemp and former Gov. Nathan Deal, have said funding Medicaid expansion would be too costly in the long run, particularly if the federal government ends a matching program. They also say expansion would take state dollars from priorities such as public safety or education.

In an eight-page fiscal note delivered last year to House leaders, the state auditor estimated the net cost of the expansion would be about $150 million in 2020 and range between $188 million and $213 million by 2022.

Abrams founded Fair Fight in 2018 after losing a close gubernatorial election, and the group has raised more than $32 million since then, with millions devoted toward expanding voting rights access in battleground states across the nation.

But the group has also promoted other causes near-and-dear to Abrams, who is expected to challenge Kemp in a 2022 rematch, including frequently pushing for an expansion of the Medicaid program that she highlighted on the campaign trail.

See the ad, “Medicaid Expansion Now,” here:

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