Georgia can’t afford its share of ObamaCare

Back in July, Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen warned that his fellow Democrats’ health proposals would not only come with a trillion-dollar federal price tag. They would also represent “the mother of all unfunded mandates” for the states.

Now that the House has passed one health bill and the Senate Finance Committee another, Georgia’s number crunchers have estimated just how unfunded it would be for our state.

The answer: as much as $2.6 billion before 2020.

Two-point-six billion dollars, and in only five full years of spending. That’s under the bill passed in the House. The annual sum under that legislation would exceed half a billion dollars by 2019. (These and all other figures in this column, unless otherwise noted, come from the Department of Community Health.)

The Senate Finance Committee’s version would be little better: just over $2 billion cumulatively, and more than $400 million a year by 2019.

These figures represent only the state’s share of adding as many as 756,000 Georgians to Medicaid, which already serves one million state residents. Federal taxes would cover the vast majority of the new expenses.

Trillion may be the new billion in Washington, but down here even a measly million still means something. Georgia’s health-related budget for this fiscal year is already $3.5 billion, or one in five dollars the state government spends. So we’re talking about increasing health spending by at least 10 percent — or else cutting hundreds of millions of dollars from other health programs.

In absolute terms, we’re talking about adding about as much in health spending over five years as the state cut from last year’s total budget due to the recession. Another $900 million has been sliced from this year’s budget. The cuts would have been worse if not for federal stimulus money, which will run out long before a new Medicaid mandate hits.

All of this includes only those changes related to expanding Medicaid. New health laws could cost the state in ways that are less measurable for now, from increased insurance premiums for its own employees to the expense of running a new federally mandated insurance exchange.

Keep in mind, too, this phrase from DCH’s overview of the impact of expanding Medicaid: Both health proposals now before Congress “offer states a higher federal match at least initially to help pay for the medical costs of the newly eligible” people (emphasis added).

Translation: As Washington’s costs explode, Congress may try to shift more of the financial burden onto the states. As things stand, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the House bill would cost state governments $34 billion in new Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) spending (see footnote “c” on page 12 of the linked PDF).

All in all, this presents a significant, perhaps impossible, challenge for Georgia.

And it gets worse. Congress is also contemplating some people-shuffling which would cost Georgia even more money. The House bill would move kids in poor families out of SCHIP and into Medicaid. Because the feds reimburse states for those programs at different rates, Georgia could lose up to $48 million a year in federal matching funds if that switch takes place.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it now: We need to change our health-care system. The status quo works for many people. But even we, the relatively comfortable, have only tenuous security.

The “solutions” which Congress is now debating, however, fail on every level of logic, and for every level of government — and, by extension, taxpayer.

We can’t afford these plans. Scrap ’em. Start over.

119 comments Add your comment

jt

November 20th, 2009
8:14 pm

Tenth Amendment: reserves to the states respectively, or to the people, any powers the Constitution did not delegate to the United States, nor prohibit the states from exercising.

The American People

November 20th, 2009
8:28 pm

Write an article about the SEIU 1000 members beating up Ken Hamidi for trying to exercising his right to free speech at their public meeting.

otis

November 20th, 2009
9:36 pm

Anyway to get the African-american female out of there? Your boss? Sad stuff for your career. Wooten was at least logical. Try hard man, do not make the bLACKS mad, and good luck, Otis.

bill

November 20th, 2009
9:41 pm

If Georgia can pay its water lawyer $855/hr; it has plenty of money to pay for health care.

JDW

November 20th, 2009
9:47 pm

I don’t think for a second that the plans on the table are the best we can do but they are something. Since the Republicans trashed Clinton’s effort in the 90’s we have had no effort of any substance put towards this issue. Fact is we MUST do something about health care. Those of use with health care pay far too much ($2 for every $1 spent by the rest of the industrialized world) and on top of it we have to pay the staggering costs of providing emergency care, free of charge in most cases, to those that are unisured. I am tired of the posturing and BS by the Right. Get off the dime, shut up or add something to the debate. This article adds nothing . Where is your alternative?

otis

November 20th, 2009
9:57 pm

Enter your comments here

rachel

November 20th, 2009
11:20 pm

Isn’t this America, land of the free? Wake up people before we start having a statue and a new red square. We cannot afford to pay for the health care of every American, let alone the millions of illegals living here. I’m all for some kind of reform, but a socialized medical plan is not the answer. The Founding Fathers are probably rolling in their graves.

Oxymoronic Indulgence

November 21st, 2009
12:08 am

‘I’m all for some kind of reform, but a socialized medical plan is not the answer. The Founding Fathers are probably rolling in their graves.

Honestly, you need to learn what the word “socialized” means before you go spouting off about it. Neither House nor Senate plan in any way remotely resembles “socialized” medicine.

vuduchld

November 21st, 2009
12:19 am

What planet are you from? Certainly not earth because there can’t be more humans dumber than you. Georgia can’t afford toilet paper at this moment let alone so-called “Obama-care”. Why? Because of idiots like you living in the state voting the same nincompoops in office every election cycle. The people of Georgia need only look into the mirror at themselves for the sorry predicament they’re in. Don’t blame President Obama. You wanted “conservative principles”, well, you’ve got them so live with the consquences of your stupid, silly voting choices!!

jstrick

November 21st, 2009
2:56 am

wow otis, what in the world are you talking about?

Kyle, would you like medicare repealed? You don’t mention it at all in this article. If you have a problem with any type of government healthcare, please include in your articles a call to repeal medicare, otherwise it doesn’t seem that you are writing anything worthwhile in the healthcare debate.

Real American

November 21st, 2009
7:36 am

No jstrick, Kyle doesn’t have a problem with medicare because that would tick off the tea party birthers all around rural GAWGA that rely on medicare – that “socialist gubment healthcare”. Go to any Wal-mart and you’ll see plenty of gubment healthcare in action as its wheeling around shopping for the low low prices of Chinese goods. Kyle won’t mention that, he knows who he is pandering too.

joel partain

November 21st, 2009
7:37 am

Crunch your numbers till the cows come home and you’ll never get a cost anywhere near the real cost of a cruel, ridiculous system like ours.
How can every other developed country afford to do what you say is impossible?They love their systems, too, and are healthier than we are.
Let’s be honest, the republicans would not approve a penny in taxes if it saved a million lives.And don’t forget that a solid majority of Americans IN EVERY STATE support reform so any representative or senator who is categorically against reform is thwarting his constituents in favor of insurance lobby money.

JImNATL

November 21st, 2009
7:52 am

Still waiting for the benefit side of your cost benefit analysis. Oh, I’m sorry, you’re a conservative, and hence only concerned with cost, not the benefit to those millions of Georgians who might be saved by having access to preventative care. Not to mention the savings the state will enjoy in treating citizens before their medical conditions become very expensive critical case.

Parpatco

November 21st, 2009
8:25 am

So America alone among the developed countries of the world cannot afford to assure that all its citizens have access to health care?

mike

November 21st, 2009
8:34 am

JImNATL –

“Still waiting for the benefit side of your cost benefit analysis.”

All of your mindless partisanship asides, doing a cost-benefit analysis is pointless if there is no way to fund the “cost”.

For example, if I am a struggling hardware store facing bankruptcy, I can do a cost benefit analysis on a new big sign for my parking lot, but if I have no money to pay for it, it is a wasted exercise.

Government does not magically create money. Instead of telling us what conservatives do, maybe you should tell us where Georgia is supposed to come up with an additional 2.6 billion dollars in the next five years.

mike

November 21st, 2009
8:36 am

Parpatco –

“So America alone among the developed countries of the world cannot afford to assure that all its citizens have access to health care?”

Obviously you disagree. Where does the additional money come from for this? In case nobody told you, America is operating on a massive deficit already.

Skip

November 21st, 2009
8:46 am

Mike, how bout we stop the wars? Maybe keep our troops in our country? Spend “our money” on us.

jconservative

November 21st, 2009
8:52 am

From Medicare/Medicaid (CMS) FY 2010 budget – “In FY 2010, benefit costs are expected to total $803.1 billion.”…”Our programs will touch the lives of over 98 million Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) beneficiaries in FY 2010.”

No one in Congress, the White House or any advocacy group has said a single word about the fact that this will double in a few years & triple by 2020. In FY 2020 we will spend $2.4 trillion on these programs. I trust everyone does remember that the baby boomers will start going on Medicare/ Medicaid in 2011.

And apparently I am the only guy in the nation who cares. I write my congressman and the 2 senators (2 jokes). The congressman agrees on the problem but has no workable ideas (in my opinion). The 2 senators thank me for my letters & talk about the democrats.

jekyllover

November 21st, 2009
9:26 am

Are you suggesting we abolish Medicare, Medicaid, public health care for the military and for veterans, public health care for all elected officials, and public health care for many handicapped persons? If so, I’d head out of town quickly because most Georgians are not that conservative. You also neglect to explain the far greater costs to all of us if we DO NOT provide public option health care plans. Insurance companies will continue to steal us blind.

WAW

November 21st, 2009
10:01 am

Don’t sit in church on Sunday a pray for the sick and vote Republican. If you do you are wasting your dime (tithe). If you vote Republican you just want them to die quick so you don’t have any responsibility for anyone other than your sorry self.

katz

November 21st, 2009
10:03 am

Uninsured does not = denied health care.
………………………………………………………………….
Rats eat cheese. Cats eat rats. Do cats eat cheese?

Donovan

November 21st, 2009
10:13 am

What you see is what you get. When you voters elect liberals to run a government you elect space cadets who never grew up from the hippie days. Government run programs have a history of failure. Government run health programs will never succeed. There is no way to adequately fund a health care system that covers everyone. To do so invariably bankrupts an economy and lowers the quality of medical services. To completly destroy a system that works for many so as to provide services for the few is absolute lunacy. Such a noble cause brings the price of charity to a whole new meaning. We have seen the results of liberal governance. Never has any congressional body spent as much money in such a short time as this group running the country now. Our debt has tripled in less than 9 months. Our unemployment has topped 10% when the maximum ceiling predicted by this liberal leadership was forcast to only reach 8%. The principles of the free market system have been handicapped and taken away by this elected leadership. Entitlement systems of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid put in place by liberal crusaders have never functioned properly and have been on life support year after year. Now we have to suffer the ideological wants and ravings of another liberal agenda which has the consequences of destroying this country in short fashion. We have already seen the fast-track weekend midnight voting in Congress to achieve passage of legislative bills by the Democrats. We have seen the 1,000 + page bills no one has read nor understood passed by the Democrats. We have heard of the pending health care legislation that will ration, tax, and penalize our citizens. Wake up people! You who support or who have supported this liberal crusade are living in Disney World. Kill the proposed health care bill and figure out another way to insure the few that don’t have insurance.

TechLover

November 21st, 2009
10:27 am

hatz; For starters, yes our cats eat cheese. Hospitals are required to perform emergency care, of course they will bill you for it. Show up in DKA or in a hypertensive crisis, they will get you over the hump then send you home. Without follow up or proper medications you’ll just be back again and again running up higher and higher bills to the point there’s no way you’ll be able to pay for it. File bankruptcy, the hospital eats the bill, then passes the cost to you, me, and others who have insurance or can afford to pay. We either pay up front, and have healthier more productive people (and at a lesser cost in the long run), or we pay later.

TechLover

November 21st, 2009
10:33 am

Donovan: Thanks for refusing Social Security and Medicare. If all the good conservatives like you did so, the funding should last a lot longer.

rachel

November 21st, 2009
10:42 am

hey all you people who think I’m dumb…I was raised a democrat. I do not agree with socialized healthcare and it is socialized. The government will control what procedures we can have. Haven’t you been watching? Or perhaps, you want to have bunches of babies running around or more abortions because teens will not be able to go on the pill without a pap smear. Oh, and if I can’t have a mammogram until I’m 50, I sure hope I don’t find a lump in my breast for at least 12 more years. I like my plan, don’t force me to have the government let my doctors know how to treat me. You need to grow a brain.

Del

November 21st, 2009
10:44 am

Medicare was created to address the healthcare needs of the elderly. It’s close to bankruptcy largely due to waste and fraud. How can Medicare be held up as proof that the government is capable of managing this monster that the Democrats are trying to ram through congress.We’re talking about 6% of our economy and here we have those that want to pass something purely for ideological motives. The issues that have been raised with our current system are fixable if we could only get the politics out of it.

Jess

November 21st, 2009
10:51 am

In order to pay for this, both proposals include new taxes on every segment of the health care industry, from doctors to insurance companies to health products manufacturers. This will increase medical costs across the board, thus increasing insurance cost. This is the only conclusion a reasonable person can come to. At the same time cost estimates are based on cutting $400 to $500 billion out of health care cost. Once again, any reasonable person can see the folly in this plan.

Del

November 21st, 2009
11:00 am

A USA Today poll as of today shows 71% against the Senate healthcare proposal and 26% for it. As most everyone knows the USA Today readership isn’t dominated by right wing conservatives.

TechLover

November 21st, 2009
11:08 am

rachel; We don’t have to think it anymore. You just proved it. The mammogram and pap smmear guidelines are just that, guidelines. It’s not a government mandate. Tune out the idiots on talk radio and start thinking for yourself if possible, although judging by your post, just thinking in general might be a bit of a stretch.

Jess

November 21st, 2009
11:09 am

Contrary to the Georgia bashers, we are in much better financial condition than many states. The reason we can’t afford this is because this is a hugh new burden which is being put on the states with no input from the states. This entire thing, if passed, will be an economy killer. The additional taxes and cost on small businesses which generate up to 70% of all new jobs in this country almost assures either an economic crash, or at best, a chronic economic illness much like much of Europe has experienced for years. China, our banker, knows this and has warned Obama that he can’t afford this and all his other new programs. When the banker speaks, it would be wise to listen.

Donovan

November 21st, 2009
11:10 am

In brief reply to TechLover, I have refused unemployment compensation when I used to be furloughed for 3 months at a time earlier in my working career. It was not right to take the free money when I had the capability to work elsewhere. Secondly, I intend to refuse Social Security and Medicare when the time comes, based on the fact that I have created wealth for myself and do not need to suck on the system when I don’t have to.

Algonquin J. Calhoun

November 21st, 2009
11:17 am

The issues that have been raised with our current system are fixable if we could only get the politics out of it.

The insurance industry has spent millions upon millions to defeat health care reform. They’ve bought many a Refublican, including Addison Graves Wilson who called the president a liar. Health care has to be fixed. We can’t afford for it not to be. The United States spends billions and billions on weapons every year and we have two wars going right now. It’s time to spend money on life and not so much on death!

TechLover

November 21st, 2009
11:28 am

Donovan; Go for it. I know quite a few folks who work their *sses off and don’t have that option. I have no problem with part of my tax money being used to help those in need. You see a lot of their employers are only concerned with creating wealth for themselves and then b*tch when people like their employees can’t afford insurance or medicines and someone hints at programs that help them out.

Del

November 21st, 2009
11:30 am

The insurance industry has spent millions of dollars to defeat health care reform.

That implies the American people are stupid and can be swayed by the insurance industry. No way, attempts at dumbing down Americans has been the hard-left strategy to push its ideological agenda. It eventually backfires as evidenced by what’s happening now. Go read the recent polls.

Snafu

November 21st, 2009
11:47 am

vuduchild, you hit the nail on the head. When are we going to get all of these old politician out of office. These people are clearly out of touch with time.

And for those who are crying this is “socialized medicine” you can stop any day now, its old, just like the old politrickans you keep voting into office. The waste fraud and abuse of medicare is done by those on medicare and I will bet if you threaten to take away the benefits of these tea party goers they will shut up real quick.

The American people have done this country and injustice by continuing to vote old tired incompetent bastards back into office time and time again. Now all they are doing is trying to create fear on this health care bill and many others. What really needs to happen is there needs to be a civil debate on this health care bill and that means that these stupid men/women in office need to take each page and go through it until it is over. This notion of rushing this bill through is ridiculous.

As far as Georgia is concerned lawd! Let me not get started on this backwards ass state. Perdue is one reason why you don’t have money and remember its the rural politrickans that are creating all this mess. Now why is that? When you want to commit fraud and crimes come to GEORGIA!!!

Snafu

November 21st, 2009
11:51 am

Donovan,..you can stop your liberal Bullshytt any day now. Its about ineffective government because you have both parties that need an overhaul. Its amazing how doofus party loyalist will blame one or the other when its the fact that the AMERICAN PEOPLE have caused this problem just as much as these incompetent politirickans by voting for these morons over and over again, like there are not other people more qualified to do this job. ITS TIME FOR GOVERNMENT OVERHAUL AND THAT IS TO VOTE ALL THESE BAS.TARDS OUT.

Snafu

November 21st, 2009
11:55 am

The insurance industry has ran amok here in GEORGIA thanks to these politrickans now imagine what they have been doing in the DC. To give you an idea of the corruption in GEORGIA , just take a look at your INSURANCE COMMISSION, OXENDINE.. this fool has given the Insurance companies the green light. The people of Georgia are so backwards they are too scared to fight government who are stealing them blind yet they are talking about a healthcare bill that will cost milllions. Geezzz. Kyle why are you not telling the good ol’ people from GA how they are getting screwed now. Tell GEORGIA how the insurance companies and the state legislators have stuck it to them via car insurance and home insurance so why bring up the Healthcare?

Snafu

November 21st, 2009
12:00 pm

Kyle, why don’t you tell these GEORGIAN that it was the State Legislators who made it law for the insurance companies to make a profit by running credit for auto insurance and thereby raising premiums based upon BAD CREDIT. Now you are talking about they cannot afford the healthcare bill. That is because these insurance companies are tied to these State legislators. How many legislators own insurance companies? Ahh..won’t report on that but you will make up the BS on what GA cannot afford. Wait, why dont you report on the waste fraud and abuse of these politrickans and the misappropriation of funds. Where is the money PERDUE held that was suppose to got to GRADY? Come on Kyle, the real reason why you brought up healthcare is because you know if there is a healtcare bill these corrupt politrickans in GA would loose lobbyist money.

Algonquin J. Calhoun

November 21st, 2009
12:07 pm

Del, the Refublicans are naziesque in that they tell the big lie over and over but the re-telling of a lie will never make it the truth. Looks like you bought it.

Jess

November 21st, 2009
12:30 pm

Lot of insurance bashing going on. Pelosi calls them evil and bemoans their immoral profits, and her legions follow in lock step. You’d think with all their power and sway, they would be rolling in cash. Let’s take a reality check.

Average profits of all insurance companies in 2008….2.2%
Average profits on health insurance companies in 2008…under 4%

Douglas O

November 21st, 2009
12:51 pm

I am 50 yrs old and self employed. I now pay $200 monthly for health insurance (high deductible, catastrophic coverage) for myself. I pay for any medical expenses below my $2500 deductible out of pocket. I want to be covered for major illness or surgery. So I spend $2400 annually for insurance coverage.
Under the health care bills under consideration now I will not have the option to continue with a plan
similar to my current plan. I will be required to purchase one of the plans offered in the exchange that cover almost everything regardless of whether I want coverage for everything or not. From what I can tell the policy will cost me $6,000 to $8,000. as opposed to the $2,400 I pay now!!!! I don’t need nor want the extra coverage. Why should I be forced to come up with the extra $5,000 for something I don’t want. Where is that extra money going? This is unbelievable.

Snafu

November 21st, 2009
1:23 pm

Oh yeah Jess, let’s just bash the poor insurance companies for making a 2% profit. Get real. you are looking at the average..Let’s take each company individually and you will see these number are incorrect Here is one far ya.

Chattanooga’s largest private employer earned $172.8 million in 2007, up 53 percent over the prior year. That’s just off a high of $176.8 million it drew in 2005, according to the insurer.

“We’re proud of our performance and the strength the company has,” said BlueCross spokeswoman Mary Thompson.

BlueCross reported a $101.5 million gain from investment income, up from $35.6 million in the prior year.

“We were fortunate to rebalance our portfolio at the height of the value of the equity market,” Ms. Thompson said.

Premium income also rose last year, up 8.8 percent to $2.7 billion, according to the insurer. Total revenue swelled to over $3.2 billion, the company reported.

The issue is not about bashing insurance companies because they make a profit but its how they are making the profits. Insurance industry is out to make profit no one will dispute that is partly why they are in business, its the method of denying medical procedures, high premiums, and collusion on part with the hospital and doctors where heatlh care for many is not affordable.

Snafu

November 21st, 2009
1:27 pm

What many people have failed to realize that the way these politrickans are going about health care reform is ridiculous. First in order to have a sound health care bill you first have to ask why healthcare is not affordable. Its because of premiums and high cost that the doctors and hospitals charge. If more people would be able to afford the premiums this would not be an issue. The bottom line is why should anyone have to get a 10,000 deductible just to get lower premiums for major medical? Medicaid and Medicare have so much fraud on the part of these organizations is pathetic and yes people you are paying for it whether you like it or not.

Jess

November 21st, 2009
2:01 pm

Snafu,

The numbers you quote are meaningless without a referance to earnings. If the company whose net profits were $172 million made this on earnings of $17 billion, their profit would be 1%. Not exactly an immoral excess.

This is why anyone who has a need to look at the performance of a company looks at profit margin.

Jess

November 21st, 2009
2:07 pm

Douglas O.

The extra money is going to fund coverage for someone else. This is the world we live in now. If you are dependant and needy, you are rewarded. If you are independant and productive, you are penalized.

Del

November 21st, 2009
2:24 pm

AJC,

I only buy into facts not political parties Republican or Democrat. Do we need Health insurance portability? We have that now. Do we need greater protection for preexisting conditions? We have a good bit now, however, that can be tightened up further. Not a major fix requiring government run health care. Do we need bigger net for the uninsured? We can expand the medicare net. There isn’t any issue that can’t be improved that requires government taking over 6% of our economy. No what the dumocrats are doing is all about politics and ideology of the far-left flavor. I guess you buy into it.

Del

November 21st, 2009
2:37 pm

AJC,

Correction on my last: Do we need a bigger net for the uninsured? We can expand the Medicaid net.

Audrey in Georgia

November 21st, 2009
2:44 pm

Prepare for the CHANGE people. Health care reform will happen. Remember when the
majority in Georgia did not want integration? It happened anyway because it was the
right thing to do. Health care for every person in America is the right thing to do.

Joan

November 21st, 2009
2:53 pm

I can’t figure out where to go so that the government won’t find me. I want to drop out of this insanity. We can’t have a recovery until we have jobs, and we can’t have jobs until we have manufacturing again and make products, and balance trade–so how in the heck does Congress expect us ever to be able to pay for all their idiocy??? About health care for everyone–well as the ant said to the grasshopper–you should have worked and saved. Too bad.

Algonquin J. Calhoun

November 21st, 2009
4:24 pm

Del
November 21st, 2009
2:37 pm

AJC,

Correction on my last: Do we need a bigger net for the uninsured? We can expand the Medicaid net.

It should have been presented asw an extension of medicaid and medicare from the beginning. The insurance companies are soaking the public and government has to step in. The insurance companies have had it their way for a long time. They could have changed at any time but they didn’t. Now they are spending a mint to keep their ability to fleece people and not give them good care. The insurance companies thought they could prevail, since they own the Refublicans, but I don’t think they will. Their grip upon American health care is gonna be busted today!