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No Medicaid expansion for Georgia

Nathan Deal has trust issues, and I don't have insurance



In my relatively limited experience, nothing changes your view on the human body like popping out your very own living, breathing, beautiful, terrifying babyfriend.

Birth itself is altogether an exercise in bodily empowerment. You walk out of that hospital every bit the vaginally mighty Wonder Womb-an, all like, "Fuck you, world, do you know what I just did? You can't touch this!"

But then mortality bitch-slaps you in the baby-maker. You realize you could die. And so could your baby. It could happen. Even barring the inevitable, looming end of sweet life, you can and — God help you — definitely will get sick. Babies, as we all know, are filthy, germ-laden hellbeasts. The sickness is absolutely coming, and it would be nice to be able to afford antibiotics or visit the doctor without having to sublet your hall closet. When you're a feisty twentysomething, rollicking around town with neither a care nor health insurance has a certain thrill to it. Like sexing bareback (oh, stop clutching your pearls; where do you think this kid came from?).

But no more of that! You're grown now. You have a Prius and stretch marks and a brand-new desire to not bankrupt yourself over a sprained ankle. It's not a complicated mind pill to swallow.

When you're drunk on unfettered youth — and likely actually drunk — walking around with the ever-present risk of financial ruin seems like part of the game. But whether it's realizing that you're not likely to ever have a job that offers medical benefits (what up, freelance writing?), giving birth to someone whose economic and corporal well-being means more to you than your own, or simply being smart enough to plan ahead, there comes a point for everyone when it's time to tackle the tricky task of insuring yourself.

According to the U.S. Census, approximately 1.9 million Georgians — around 20 percent — are without health coverage, making Georgia one of the nation's most "uninsured" states. Thousands of people are living in a futile insurance limbo: too "rich" for Medicaid, the federal health insurance program for people living on low incomes, and too poor to ever dream the lofty dream of private insurance.

Starting in 2014, the Medicaid expansion included in President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act would've bridged a big chunk of this gap by extending eligibility to include individuals and families making up to 133 percent of the poverty level — that's roughly $31,000 for a family of four. Currently, a family of four with children between ages 6 and 19 can't earn more than $23,000 without getting kicked out of Club Medicaid. But all is not lost! Under the law, families whose income falls between 100 percent and 400 percent of the poverty level are also eligible for subsidies to buy health insurance on their own. As someone currently shopping private insurers, I can attest that the process of navigating your options in hopes of finding the co-pay cocktail that works for your family is a face-eating, hair-pulling, dry heave-inducing nightmare.

Our Obamacare-takers know this, which is why the law mandates that these dizzying options must now attempt to be made clearer with the help of state-based "exchanges." Except Georgia has decided not to create one, leaving it up to the feds. Claiming that the guidelines for the exchange don't treat Georgia like the special snowflake it is, Gov. Nathan Deal isn't going to use the state's resources to implement something that he and his supporters feel is indisputably federal in nature.

It's not exactly news that Deal is opting out of the Medicaid expansion. As soon as the U.S. Supreme Court ruled states should have the option of doing so made it easier for states to do so, Deal issued a hearty "No thank you, sir," citing Georgia's inability to afford the expansion. This is where you lose me, governor. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, nonprofit disseminators of numbers and logic, the Medicaid expansion would cost Georgia $2.5 billion over 10 years. In return, the federal government would feed $33 billion into Georgia health care during the same period.

So, according to Deal and his bros, U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss and State House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, spending $250 million annually to insure half a million Georgians and getting a yearly $3.3 billion economic booster shot in return is something that the state "can't afford."

To put those numbers in perspective, Georgia's current entire annual budget is $19.3 billion. My liberal arts education is clearly preventing me from seeing the complex math magic that turns this into sound fiscal thinking.

I know what you're thinking: Isn't the Federal government supposed to pay for 100 percent of the expansion for the first few years, and 90 percent after that? Well, yes. But Deal doesn't buy it. He believes "... it is probably unrealistic to expect that promise to be fulfilled in the long term, simply because of the financial status that the federal government is in."

Alright, guys, who elected Mr. Trust Issues? Deal, come here, boo. No, stop reading the Federal government's texts for a minute. Please realize that progress of any kind requires some degree of faith.

You and Obama may not have the easiest relationship and you don't trust him. But all of us uninsured Georgians? We're your babies. We're your germy, disgusting babies, and we get sick, and really, really need insurance. So see if you can start working together, will you? For the good of the children.

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