Politicians debate whether Medicaid expansion would save AMC, other hospitals

Published: Sep. 2, 2022 at 10:51 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - Georgia is one of a dozen states in the U.S. that have not fully expanded Medicaid coverage.

State Democrats say it’s necessary and could help keep places like AMC Medical Center running. Republicans say otherwise.

This week Stacey Abrams told CBS46 that if she’s elected Georgia’s next Governor in November she plans on expanding Medicaid right away.

She claims Medicaid expansion may have prevented Atlanta Medical Center and other Georgia hospitals from closing.

“This is a preventable tragedy. It was caused entirely by the Governor’s refusal to expand Medicaid. For eight years Georgia has known that we were in a public health crisis. For eight years the republican governors of the state have refused access to the kind of services that could save these hospitals and states,” Abrams said. “States that have expanded Medicaid have saved their hospitals. Costs have gone down. Health outcomes have gone up. But Georgia has stubbornly refused to do right by its people and now the people of Georgia are going to suffer.”

But some Georgia Republicans say Medicaid expansion is not a perfect solution to accessible healthcare.

RELATED: Area health systems recruiting AMC employees impacted by looming closure

District 25 State Representative Todd Jones (R), who represents South Forsyth and North Fulton, says when the federal money runs out then the cost falls on the state.

“One of the things that is lost on several people on the Democratic side is the fact that there’s this fountain of money that they claim exists from the Feds at a 90/10 split. True. But that 90/10 split is only temporary. The feds will not provide the states with when the 90/10 split will go back 2/3 and 1/3,” Jones said.

Jones says this means Georgia would be forced to raise taxes or cut spending on other programs.

“Even the Georgia Hospital Association claims Medicaid only reimburses to 88% of costs. You do not have to be an MBA from Wharton to understand you cannot run a business that’s only getting you back 88% of your costs,” Jones said.

CBS46 News also asked Wellstar if Medicaid expansion would’ve kept Atlanta Medical Center open. They said while it may have helped, it would not have changed the final outcome.

“Thank you for your inquiry. While expanding Medicaid may have helped AMC’s financial sustainability, it would not have changed this outcome. AMC has sustained significant operating losses, including $107 million over the last 12 months alone,” said a Wellstar Public Relations official.