Today marks the first day of the 2016 Georgia legislative session, and Athens for Everyone is excited to announce the continuation of our campaign to lobby the state legislature for Medicaid expansion as well as various other progressive causes.
A dozen Athens for Everyone members spent hours meeting with State Senators and Representatives at the State Capitol. Meetings were held with members of the Athens delegation, members on pertinent Committees, and also with state representatives from districts where hospitals have recently closed partially due to the lack of Medicaid expansion.
Currently, 300,000 Georgians are ineligible to enroll in Medicaid but do not earn enough to receive tax credits through the healthcare marketplace. These Georgians fall into what is known as the Medicaid gap, leaving them with no form of health insurance. The Affordable Care Act provides over $30 billion to Georgia over the next ten years to expand Medicaid, but our state government has refused to accept the money. We believe that the refusal to expand Medicaid is politically motivated, due to resistance against the Affordable Care Act. As a result of this political posturing, Georgia lives are at stake; people die every day due to a lack of access to preventative healthcare. Additionally, the lack of sufficient funding from Medicaid has led to the closing of 5 rural hospitals throughout Georgia, with 20 additional hospitals at risk of closing. It is time for our Georgia legislators to step up and do the right thing, and demand full expansion of Medicaid as provided by the Affordable Care Act.
The benefits of Medicaid expansion are countless. Not only is expanding Medicaid the right, compassionate thing to do for Georgia residents, it also makes sound economic sense. In addition to reopening the hospitals that have closed, full Medicaid expansion is estimated to create over 70,000 jobs as a result of the influx of money from the federal government.
“We cannot think of a better policy goal that better reflects our mission of equality, social justice, and an end to poverty for all people”, said Athens for Everyone Board Member Adam Veale. “We look forward to continuing to forge relationships with our state legislators and standing up for what is right for Georgians.”
Along with advocating for the expansion of Medicaid, Athens for Everyone will be lobbying the state legislature to create an independent redistricting commission, allow local municipalities to set their own local election dates, and pass legislation to reform police use of “no knock warrants.”
In all our efforts, Athens for Everyone remains committed to our mission of equality, social justice, and an end to poverty for all people.by