Medicaid expansion likely a no go after surprise vote at State Capitol

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A last-minute deal that might have included expanding Medicaid in Georgia fell apart during a surprise vote at the State Capitol on Thursday morning.

Channel 2′s Richard Elliot said the vote fell into two camps and not entirely along party lines.

Those who said what we’re doing now is not working and those who said we’ve got to give the governor’s plan more time to work.

Democrats argued that the $580 million price tag would be offset by the $1.2 billion in federal aid waiting for Georgia.

They said Gov. Brian Kemp’s Georgia Pathways plan has enrolled only 3,500 people and cost $26 million.

But Republicans pushed back saying the plan was delayed by the pandemic and is projected to attract many more customers.

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

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But the Democratic proposal had some Republican support.

Newnan Republican state Sen. Matt Brass thinks the governor’s plan can work but may not go far enough. So, he thinks it’s time to start talking about Medicaid expansion.

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

The vote was much closer than expected, with two Republicans voting with Democrats.

The Republican committee chair cast the deciding vote saying Kemp’s plan needed more time.

Senate minority leader Gloria Butler said she was disappointed, and that the no vote may come with a price tag -- no Democratic support for other Republican healthcare bills.

“Just to have this huge disappointment, but there are still doors opened to continue discussion, continue the process to try and make Georgia a well state,” Butler said.

The biggest casualty may be the Certificate of Need bill, hoping to reform how hospitals can operate in Georgia and in rural parts of the state.

Butler said a no vote on medical expansion would lead to Democratic no votes on that bill.

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