Ga. Democrats push back over failure to move Medicaid expansion bill forward

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Georgia Democrats are pushing back at last week’s failure of their proposed Medicaid expansion bill to get out of a Senate committee.

They say the Republican leadership broke an agreement to let the full Senate vote on it.

Channel 2′s Richard Elliot was at the Capitol Wednesday and spoke to those Democrats and Republicans about the issue.

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Channel 2 Action News was there last week as the bill to fully expand Medicaid got farther than it ever had before - a debate in a Senate committee.

It came within just one vote of coming out.

“We did have an agreement that we would pass the bill out of committee onto the floor so that we could debate it,” State Sen. Gloria Butler (D) said.

Wednesday, Democratic leadership talked about that failure, even though some Republicans, including Newnan’s State Sen. Matt Brass (R), said publically that it’s time to discuss it.

“Some of us are more open to the discussion, you know. We just continue to hear the same complaints. They’re not going away,” Brass said.

Democratic leaders blamed Gov. Brian Kemp and GOP leadership for the political logjam they insist is hurting Georgians.

“And this session, yet again, Georgia Republicans chose to look at patients in need with an obvious solution in reach, and they chose to do nothing,” State Rep. Michelle Au (D) said.

Republicans insisted that Kemp’s Georgia Pathways to Coverage plan needs more time to gain traction even though so far, the state has spent $26 million for only 3,500 people who have signed up.


Savannah’s State Sen. Ben Watson (R) told Elliot after the hearing that he thinks Pathways signups will increase.

“If we do reach 50,000 or 80,000 as they’re suggesting, I think that’s very good. I think we just need to wait and see on that,” Watson said.

A spokesperson for Kemp’s office sent Channel 2 Action News a statement saying in part:

“Medicaid expansion has yet to successfully pass any committee in the General Assembly since its inception over a decade ago. So Representative Park should start lobbying his fellow legislators for their support.”

Thursday is the final day of the legislative session.

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