Cheering her on are the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, the Arizona Small Business Association, the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association, the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce and many other business and healthcare organizations.
The governor is spinning it thusly: “Brewer Medicaid Plan: The Conservative Choice for Arizona.” Gov. Jan says her plan pumps billions of dollars into Arizona’s economy, protects hospitals and keeps Arizona tax dollars in Arizona.
Politically, it appears to be a winner for Brewer.
“The Brewer Medicaid Plan,” says her web site, “comes at no cost to the General Fund. Best of all, by taking Medicaid pressure off the General Fund, we can protect critical services like educations and public safety.
“Keeps Arizona tax dollars in Arizona: (The program) will inject nearly $8 million into our economy over the first four years alone…
“When (uninsured Arizonans) show up in emergency rooms…the exorbitant costs of their care is borne by hospitals and the insured.”
All of these benefits accrue to Georgia if Gov. Nathan Deal follows Brewer’s example. She took a risk in her conservative state and is predictably receiving fire from the far right. But Arizona’s influential and moneyed business and healthcare leaders have Brewer’s back. They won’t allow the tea party to primary her.
I hope Gov. Nathan Deal is watching. I pray he’ll listen to the better angels of his nature and insure 700,000 low-income Georgians and their children who have no access to healthcare except the state’s hospital emergency rooms, the “exorbitant costs” of which you and I pay in the form of local taxes and higher health insurance premiums.
Deal can add 70,000 good-paying healthcare jobs to the state’s economy if he expands Medicaid, according to Georgia healthcare economist Dr. Bill Custer, who called the program a “good deal” for taxpayers that would bring in $31 billion over the next 10 years in return for a $2 billion investment.
The governor should also switch Georgia to a state-based health insurance exchange. New York officials negotiated premium rates with 17 health insurers on behalf of consumers and businesses. As a result, 2014 policy premiums in New York are as much as 50 percent lower than 2013 rates, not including federal tax credits for those who qualify.
Unfortunately, Deal opted for the federally-administered exchange, so rates for Georgians won’t match the lower rates New Yorkers will pay.
This week, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius addressed the National Conference of State Legislatures in Atlanta, encouraging law makers to get with the program and start saving their constituents money.
“Every day we learn something else about Obamacare and it’s never good news,” harrumphed Senate candidate, Rep. Phil Gingrey.
Cutting health insurance premiums in half isn’t good news? Insuring 700,000 Georgians so Gingrey’s constituents won’t have to pay for indigent care is a bad idea? Keeping our federal tax dollars in Georgia doesn’t make sense?
Obamacare is here to stay. The inevitable glitches of such a sweeping program are being addressed, but continuing to proclaim the law a failure and then deliberately trying to fulfill that prophesy is as futile as attempting to shut down the government if Obamacare isn’t defunded.
Georgia’s small businesses along with the insured and the uninsured are seeing successes in Arizona and New York and they will continue to see successes in more states as the law takes effect. Voters will soon be asking why our officials aren’t making Obamacare a success in Georgia.
Kevin Foley is a public relations executive, author and writer who lives in Kennesaw.