Ahead of Rally with Pence, Democrats, Doctors & Patients Remind Voters of Kemp’s Opposition to Expanding Medicaid

May 23, 2022

Pence Expanded Medicaid as Governor of Indiana, but Kemp Refuses to Expand Medicaid for 500,000 Georgians

Today, State Representative Dr. Jasmine Clark, a rural Georgia doctor, and a former Medicaid gap patient held a press conference to remind voters of Brian Kemp’s refusal to expand Medicaid as he campaigns with former Vice President Mike Pence, who expanded Medicaid as governor of Indiana. Speakers highlighted how Kemp’s opposition to Medicaid expansion is blocking affordable health care coverage for hundreds of thousands of Georgians, preventing new job creation, and withholding critical support from rural hospitals.

Download a recording of the press conference here.

“While he was the Governor of Indiana, Pence took action to expand Medicaid — an action that the person that he’s campaigning for today, Brian Kemp, has repeatedly refused to take. It would provide access to health coverage for over 500,000 people, lower our state’s uninsured rate, and help lower the cost of care for everybody. Expanding Medicaid will also create jobs — which Kemp seems to be highlighting on the campaign trail a lot these days. We could create over 64,000 jobs, many in rural communities across our state, with Medicaid expansion,” said State Representative Dr. Jasmine Clark. “But the fact that Brian Kemp is aware of all the incredible benefits and still opposed to expanding Medicaid can only mean one thing — he does not care. Medicaid expansion is more than just health care policy, it’s an economic driver that helps everyone. We deserve a governor who cares about the lives of the people they take an oath to serve — and a leader who will do what’s right.”

“For a long time, I was among the hundreds of thousands of Georgians who fall in the ‘coverage gap’ — I didn’t qualify for Medicaid because of the parameters and I wasn’t making enough money to qualify for the Affordable Care Act. I have some chronic conditions that I need prescriptions for, and finding prescriptions when you can’t find a doctor is kind of tough,” shared Amy Bielawski, Georgian who previously fell into the coverage gap. “Helping people access affordable health coverage shouldn’t be a partisan issue. In fact, Kemp is campaigning today with his fellow Republican Mike Pence, who did expand Medicaid when he was governor of Indiana. Why won’t Kemp take action on Medicaid when even members of his own party – members he’s standing alongside at campaign rallies – did so in their own states? To me, there’s only one answer. Brian Kemp just doesn’t care. Living without health insurance is stressful, scary, and exhausting. It doesn’t have to be this way, but Brian Kemp is forcing this to be the day-to-day reality for hundreds of thousands of Georgians.”

“In recent years, we lost three hospitals within fifty miles of me — we didn’t even have a pharmacy here for several years. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Brian Kemp could expand Medicaid using already-available federal funds, and help rural hospitals keep their doors open. It makes me mad that Georgians pay taxes for people in California, New York, and even my home state of Indiana, who have expanded Medicaid to cover more uninsured adults. Indiana is a pretty conservative place, and if they can do it, I don’t see why Georgia doesn’t,” stated Dr. Karen Kinsell, a Clay County physician serving rural communities. “While governor, Kemp has made it a point to deny Georgians access to crucial health care. He’s chosen to place politics over public health and gambled with everyone’s lives. My community, and many other communities — really all communities across Georgia — need a governor who will put their health first. We need leaders who will expand Medicaid to cover an additional half a million Georgians and save rural hospitals.”

In addition to today’s rally with Mike Pence, Brian Kemp previously campaigned with former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who also expanded Medicaidduring his terms as governor. Kemp remains opposed to expanding Medicaid, reaffirming his cruel commitment to denying affordable coverage to Georgians who would gain access to lifesaving care.

38 states — including many under Republican governors — and Washington D.C. have expanded Medicaid, providing significant benefits for those gaining coverage.

The facts on Medicaid expansion:

  • Expanding Medicaid would provide over 500,000 Georgians with access to affordable health care and help the state save on uncompensated care costs, which in 2019 alone cost Georgia hospitals $2.7 billion.
  • Medicaid expansion would be the single largest economic development initiative in Georgia’s history, creating over 64,000 jobs, including 28,800 in health care, 4,900 in construction, 6,500 in retail, 2,000 in finance and insurance, and 21,900 in additional sectors.
  • With nine rural hospitals closing since 2010, including two which closed during the pandemic, Georgia ranks 6th in states with most rural hospital closures and is the 3rd worst for rural hospital stability.
  • Georgia is one of only 12 states that has refused to expand Medicaid. More than 1.5 million Georgians lack health insurance coverage and our uninsured rate is the 2nd highest in the nation at 14.5%.
  • The refusal to expand Medicaid has led to Georgia missing out on $21 billion in federal health care funds. Our tax dollars are going to other states to cover other Americans whose governors aren’t putting politics over people’s lives.
  • Medicaid expansion would not make anyone ineligible for private insurance. Expansion reduces health care costs across the board, including for those with private insurance who are unlikely to ever need Medicaid coverage.

Read more about the positive impact Medicaid expansion would have on Georgia’s rural communities, Georgians’ health outcomes, the state’s uninsured rate, and Georgia’s economy.


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