Do-nothing Burr inadvertently exposes danger of not expanding Medicaid
Getting his rhetorical wires crossed:
"Today our biggest challenge is to keep delivery points in place," said Burr, noting that four community hospitals in Georgia had closed and rural N.C. hospitals in Pungo and Wilson were facing operating deficits. While lamenting the challenges hospitals face, he also re-emphasized his support for the state's decision to not expand eligibility for Medicaid, the government program designed to pay for care for the poor and disabled.
Several legislators challenged him on the seemingly discordant stances, given that North Carolina's hospitals had lobbied for the expansion as a vehicle for new revenue to offset the cuts in reimbursements under the Affordable Care Act.
The bottom line is, Republicans knew well ahead of time that not expanding Medicaid would cause huge problems for patients and providers, problems they counted on to derail the Affordable Care Act. And as far as Burr pointing to problems in Georgia:
Since the health law originally intended every state to expand Medicaid, it includes funding cuts to hospitals that serve large numbers of poor and uninsured patients who often can’t pay their medical bills — cuts that were meant to be mitigated by an influx of newly-insured poor people under the Medicaid expansion. But when the Supreme Court ruled the expansion optional for states in 2012, rural hospitals in anti-Obamacare states found themselves in a precarious position. Four rural Georgia hospitals have closed their doors in the last two years over excessive uncompensated care costs — a trend that’s expected to continue in states refusing the expansion.
A study by the Commonwealth Fund found that Georgia taxpayers will be forced to shell out $3 billion through 2022 to help fund other states’ Medicaid expansions, even though state residents won’t enjoy any of the benefits of the health law provision themselves.
We can't let Republicans use their own mistake (refusing to expand Medicaid) to gain political points with voters, who (understandably) are confused about many aspects of the ACA. Education will set us all free.