Gov. Nathan Deal
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) has the power to follow several other GOP governors’ lead and negotiate an alternative to the Affordable Care Act’s optional Medicaid expansion—a provision that would extend basic health benefits to more than 600,000 of the poorest Georgians—with the Obama administration. Instead, Deal’s administration is pushing a GOP-sponsored state bill that would take the matter out of the executive branch’s hands and require lawmakers to give legislative approval to any Medicaid expansion plan.Lest you think that maybe this means the legislature will actually work on Medicaid expansion, don't. The bill creates more hurdles to current and future efforts to accept the expansion. It gives Deal cover—he can just point to the legislature as having total responsibility for approving the expansion. And should state Sen. Jason Carter prevail in his challenge to Deal, he'd be hamstrung by this law in accepting the expansion.
Deal has always been open about his support for the proposed bill, HB 990. But emails obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution under Georgia’s Open Records Act show that Deal’s staff actually helped write and even strengthen the legislation.
All of this is happening against the backdrop of Georgia hospitals having to shut their doors because of lack of funding through Medicaid. One of the state's larger employers, The Medical Center of Central Georgia, is going to lose $113 million in federal funds, funding cuts that were supposed to have been offset by Medicaid expansion under the law, until the Supreme Court made the expansion optional.