Dear editor: I have read several articles in our Moultrie and the Albany newspapers about the plight of approximately 6-8 of our small and/or rural hospitals, either closing or are on the edge of closing. All gave as reasons their lack of being paid for work being done on patients with no means of paying. They spoke of the need of government help. This help is available in the extended Medicaid program that our governor refused to accept, then passed it on to the Legislature to act on.

The reason given was the additional taxes needed to be paid. This program is funded by the federal government 90 percent the first year, 80 percent and 70 percent in following years. Now the share that would have been paid to Georgia residents goes to the other states that accept Medicaid expansion.

According to the newspaper’s report of the Republican Conference of Governors following the enactment of the president’s Affordable Healthcare Act, the group decided that to accept this aid would enhance the probability of success of the ACA and then agreed not to do anything that might help this bill in any way. As a result of the above, plus other problems as well, more than 40 Georgia counties lack obstetrical providers. Southwest Georgia has been hit very hard, with Worth, Mitchell, Miller, Early and Randolph counties having no obstetrical providers.

According to Georgia Health News, states like Arkansas and Kentucky are having great success accepting Medicaid expansion. In an article printed in The Albany Herald, a doctor from that city lamented the loss of lives and suffering experienced by patients he had seen only after it was too late to help them.

He stated that if the patients had been seen earlier, many would have survived; however, due to their inability to pay, these patients put off visiting a doctor until their disease had progressed past the point of cure. The doctor suggested that if Georgia had accepted the Medicaid expansion provided in the Affordable Care Act, these patients would have been eligible to receive insurance, thus enabling them to have early help.

Our governor and our Legislature should be ashamed that they would place politics ahead of the care of our needy citizens. We will see these patients when it is too late to help them or in the emergency room still unable to pay. They lose and our hospitals and doctors lose, and we do nothing. Be ashamed! Max Hancock Moultrie

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