NewsPub Notes

Billions for Health Care, Anyone?



Politics makes strange bedfellows, even in hospitals. The billions of dollars for Medicaid declined by the state of Georgia during recent years are politically incorrect for Republicans because the money is part of Obamacare. Throughout the country, many Republican governors have accepted Medicaid expansion, but not in Georgia. In fact, when Gov. Nathan Deal faced a re-election challenge from Democrat Jason Carter, the Republican-dominated Georgia General Assembly took the authority for accepting Medicaid expansion away from the governor and lodged it in the legislature—just to be sure.

So, Medicaid expansion has become the issue that defines our politics in this election, the way segregation used to. In fact, Medicaid expansion is just the latest codeword for a state whose politics has always been based on race.

I don’t mean to insult you if you hated President Obama because he was a lying, liberal Democrat, and the fact that he is black had nothing to do with it. If so, it may come as a surprise to you that a lot of your fellow Georgia Republicans couldn’t stand the fact that a black man was their president. Those guys would rather have their local hospital close and their neighbor die of cancer instead of accepting the money that would save both because it came from Obamacare.

So now we’ve got local candidates like Bill Cowsert and Houston Gaines, who because of their Republican politics have to try to claim with a straight face that Medicaid expansion is bad for Georgia, when it is obviously the salvation of local hospitals and local people in need of medical care. And our Republican congressman, Jody Hice, is still stuck in the groove of repealing Obamacare, in spite of the fact that a majority of his constituents are dependent on it.

Of course, the most interesting aspect of our current political campaigns is that the Democratic candidate for governor, Stacey Abrams, is a black woman. No need for codewords there. This is race in your face. She’s a Democrat, and she’s a black woman, and that is deciding the votes of a lot of Republican Georgians and maybe some Democrats.

Abrams, of course, is all for Medicaid expansion, and her opponent, Brian Kemp is against it. Again, we see how Republicans like Kemp are trapped into political positions that are against the interests and the preferences of our citizens and our communities.

And anybody not blinded by race or sexism or Republicanism can plainly see that Abrams is smarter than Kemp. She’s better educated, and she has proven herself through her efforts at voter registration—opposed, illegally, by Kemp. She has also proven herself in the Georgia legislature, where, as minority leader, she has worked effectively with the Republican majority, many of whom have accepted her for her ability and intelligence.

So, Medicaid expansion is again the litmus test that shows whether you’re willing to use the powers of our national, state and local governments to help solve pressing problems, or you’re trapped in an ideology that says you have to oppose your own people for the sake of political correctness.

The issues in this election are really very simple and straightforward: Use government to support our citizens, or deny them that support for political reasons. That’s a very dramatic difference, and it’s one that is usually disguised by codewords that indicate which candidate is for the poor, the minorities and the disadvantaged and which is for all forms of privilege: economic, sexual, racial. This year, it’s all out in the open, and where you stand on Medicaid expansion gives a pretty clear picture of where you stand for Georgia.

Those Amendments I’ve had second thoughts on some of the amendments. I am going to vote for No. 1 and against No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4. No. 5 doesn’t apply to Athens-Clarke County, and neither does Referendum No. 1. I don’t really understand Referendum No. 2, which seems to help people who provide mental health services. And then there’s the special election to allow restaurants here to serve drinks earlier on Sunday. No need for me to explain that one.