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Issues Economic and Social Justice Stop TPP Fast Track GA Medicaid Expansion The Georgia Republican who has endorsed Medicaid expansion
Saturday, 22 March 2014 00:00

The Georgia Republican who has endorsed Medicaid expansion

Written by  Jim Galloway | The Atlanta Journal Constitution
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Today is the fourth birthday of the Affordable Care Act. Strictly speaking, this is not news, but a predictable, calendar-based event.

Rather like a Legislature in Georgia passing a gun bill in an election year. You can nearly set your watch by it.

No, news is the unexpected. It is man bites dog – which is silly. Or Vladimir Putin sending an apology and flowers to Ukraine – which is pure fantasy.

News is an elected Republican endorsing an expansion of Medicaid in Georgia. Which may be just as inconceivable, but really happened.

One of the year’s grandest acts of political rebellion in the state Capitol took place last Tuesday, deep into the 39th day of a 40-day session of the Legislature.

“I am concerned that my party is going to lose thousands of health care workers and independent voters over this,” said state Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome. “The majority of Georgians do oppose Obamacare, but six out of 10 believe we ought to expand Medicaid. There is a difference between the two.”

Hufstetler is a first-termer and a back-bencher. Literally. His seat is on the final row. But he is the sleepy, quiet type. No bomb-thrower. In fact, by trade he is an anesthetist at Redmond Regional Medical Center, the smaller of two hospitals in his district.

The occasion of Hufstetler’s outburst was the Senate debate over HB 990. The bill was the lesser of two anti-Obamacare measures in circulation, a greased piece of legislation that would take the decision of whether to expand Medicaid, as recommended by the ACA, out of the hands of the governor. Legislative approval would be required.

Gov. Nathan Deal had endorsed the whittling of his own authority, so the Senate vote and the words that went with it were mere formalities. Until Hufstetler took the well.

First, the former member of the Floyd County Commission presented his credentials. He had opposed the 2009 passage of the Affordable Care Act, he said, primarily because of its mandate that individuals purchase insurance or be fined.

But President Barack Obama has issued so many waivers for the requirement that it is almost meaningless, Hufstetler said.

What worried the Rome senator was Gov. Nathan Deal’s decision – which will soon be in the hands of the GOP-controlled Legislature – to refuse to expand the federal-state health care program for low-income Georgians.

Hufstetler cited a list of Republican governors in Arizona, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and Utah who have made their peace with the Affordable Care Act, expanding health care coverage to poorer residents in their state.

In Georgia, Medicaid expansion would wrap in an estimated 650,000 more low-income earners. The program currently covers about 1.7 million children, pregnant women, plus elderly and disabled residents.

The federal government would cover the entire cost of Medicaid expansion for the first three years, with its share gradually dropping to no less than 90 percent thereafter – a promise that most Republicans treat with high skepticism.

But Hufstetler sees something else. He sees his state giving up billions upon billions of dollars at the cost of thousands of health care jobs. With no impact on the federal deficit. Money will be flowing out of Georgia into states that have accepted Obamacare.

“I believe this transfer of wealth is going to hurt Georgia as numerous studies by Kaiser [Permanente], the University of Georgia, and Georgia State have pointed out,” Hufstetler said.

Huftsetler was the only Republican to cast a vote against HB 990. He also voted against a measure sent to the governor that will eventually force the University of Georgia to drop a federally funded program to train the “navigators” that point consumers to health insurance exchanges.

“I don’t know why we as Republicans would vote to not allow the University of Georgia to help enroll people at no cost to the state, to help enroll people in private insurance,” he later said.

 

At the very least, Hufstetler’s speech, which startled even Democrats, was inconvenient to the chief resident of the state Capitol’s second floor.

The next day, the governor would tell a gathering of rural legislators that he would back a plan allow rural hospitals in south Georgia – which are gasping for cash that could come their way under an expansion of Medicaid – to reduce the services they offer as a way of cutting expenses.

For many health care centers, the only other alternative is to shut down. Four rural hospitals have closed in the last two years. The Department of Community Health recently advanced $800,000 to a small hospital and nursing home in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., so that it could make payroll.

The singularity of Hufstetler’s comments might be hard to understand, unless you’ve sat through a dozen or so Republican gatherings. There is a playbook, and unwavering opposition to Obamacare is at the very top of it.

Right now, when it comes to Medicaid expansion, Hufstetler stands alone among Republicans in the state Capitol. “I can’t think of anybody else,” said Matt Caseman, executive director of the Georgia Rural Health Association – who quickly declared his sincere and deep appreciation for Deal’s efforts to help rural hospitals.

As for Hufstetler, he will survive in the Legislature at least through 2016.

“I haven’t really had any negative reaction to this. I think it helps that in my eight years on the county commission, we lowered taxes six times,” Hufstetler said. “The people in my district know my record as a fiscal conservative.”

Perhaps more important, Hufstetler’s speech came after qualifying closed – he has no opposition in 2014. He might be fearless, but he’s not stupid.

Link to original article from The Atlanta Journal Constitution

Read 1497 times Last modified on Sunday, 27 April 2014 14:41

Trans Pacific Partnership Fast Track - Where Does Your Legislator Stand

Click your state to see your Senators and Representatives

Green = Most Legislators Oppose Fast Track, Yellow = Some Opposition, Orange = Oppose TPP, Gray = Unknown
DeLauro 13 - Signed 2013 DeLauro/Miller letter
Pocan - Signed Freshman Letter Opposing Fast Track
W/M - Signed Ways and Means Letter opposing TPP
Gibson - Signed Rep. Chris Gibson letter opposing TPP
SOPA - Oppose Stop Online Piracy Act - voted against
Currency - Oppose Currency Manipulation (Signed Michaud Letter)
Textile - Oppose changes to "First Yarn" (Signed Textile Industry Letter)

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    Written on Thursday, 24 October 2013 15:45 Read more...
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    Written on Wednesday, 16 October 2013 00:05 Read more...
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    Written on Thursday, 03 October 2013 03:17 Read more...
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    Written on Sunday, 15 September 2013 17:36 Read more...
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Join "Countdown to Coverage" Share TPP with your Daily Newspaper

CWA devised a simple plan for which they were uniquely suited: drag TPP out of the shadows and into the light - one city at a time - using a medium they understand intimately: Daily Newspapers!

Two CWA members - Dave Felice in Denver, CO and Madelyn Elder in Portland, OR have started the ball rolling. We just need to keep up the momentum leading up to a big day of petition deliveries.

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Step 1 is to send an Op-Ed to your Daily Newspaper.

Join our Twitter Storm

If you have a Twitter account you can help stop Fast Track on the TPP. Sign-in to your Twitter account and copy and paste the Tweets from our Twitter storm. Or you can copy your favorite Tweet and then click on the map and Tweet your legislator.

Twitter Storm Tweets for Tuesday, January 28th @ 9pm Eastern

Tweets for the special State of the Union Twitter Storm will be posted on January 28th at 8pm EST. Check back for the new Tweets.

Find Your Member of Congress

Click here to quickly find your member of Congress by putting in your home address. This site also features a one-click link to the same information in Spanish

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Then call and ask them to oppose Fast Track on the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Sample script is below.

Script

“I'm a constituent, and I am strongly opposed to my representative giving away Congress’ constitutional authority to control our trade policy. We send people to Congress to stand up for us, not give away their power to stop more American job offshoring and protect us from dangerous imported food that doesn’t meet our safety standards. This latest so-called trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), would not only do that - but also ban Buy American and increase our medicine prices. That’s why it’s crucial that Congress not give away its authority to make sure every provision of TPP is in our interest before this massive deal can be signed. Good trade deals don’t need to be railroaded through Congress using Fast Track. I hope my representative will commit to opposing this outrageous legislation.”

Email Your Senators and Rep - Say No On Fast Track and TPP

Send an email directly to your Senators and Representatives courtesy of our partners at CWA. Enter your zip code and your members are automatically selected.

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Sign the ERA Petition

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On Friday, September 12th more than 150 activists will go to DC and Demand that their Senators and Representatives support removing the ratification deadline from the ERA (SJ Res 15 and HJ Res 113)

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Sign the Petition - Sen. Sanders Run as a Democrat in 2016

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Report on your TPP Contact

Please let us know your legislator's stance on Fast Track Authorization for the Trans Pacific Partnership as well as their stance on the TPP in General. Click here to report the response.

The Trans Pacific Partnership: Corporate Global Domination

Lori Wallach on the TPP from PDA Progressive Roundtable

Progressive Roundtable with Reps. Ellison and Pocan and Lori Wallach on TPP

Lori Wallach Leaked TPP Documents (Democracy NOW)

TPP: The Biggest Threat to the Internet You've Probably Never Heard Of

Lori Wallach on Thom Hartmann (Great Minds) - The TPP

Flush the TPP

Congress only has one more week in session this year, the week of December 9. So far our pressure to stop the TPP has been working. Visit Flush the TPP for calling scripts and links to Members of the Ways and Means Committee.

Flush the TPP

TPP Downloads

The following documents are available from the Oppose TPP Downloads Folder

June 29th TPP Powerpoint

CWA TPP Jobs Report