Georgia Gov. Deal Says No to Medicaid Expansion

During an interview while attending the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that he will not expand Medicaid eligibility as allowed under the Affordable Care Act because it would be too expensive for the state. Deal had said before that he would wait until after the November election to make the decision, but now he is the sixth governor in a firm “no” column according to CSG tracking. The others are Perry of Texas, Jindal of Louisiana, Haley of South Carolina, Bryant of Mississippi, and Scott of Florida.

Speaker of the House David Ralston issued a statement agreeing with Deal. “The costs are enormous and there is little faith that the federal government will live up to the funding requirements of Obamacare as it stands now.”

The expansion would provide health insurance coverage for an estimated 684,000 according to a recent Urban Institute report. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that state officials have estimated the expansion to cost Georgia $4.5 billion over 10 years. The federal matching amount could total $36 billion over the same time frame.

U.S. Representative Hank Johnson, a Democrat from the Atlanta area, called Deal’s decision “penny wise but pound foolish.”

Gov. Deal backs Rep. Paul Ryan’s Medicaid block grant proposal because it gives states flexibility. He told the newspaper, “We [in Georgia] are in one of the more modest Medicaid programs in the country. Those states that have seen fit to expand their Medicaid populations, quite honestly I don’t understand how they’re affording it in this downturned economy. … We think we might be able to come up with some innovative ways to serve that population better and at the same time save money.”