Thus, Georgia officials, led by Gov. Nathan Deal, are entirely correct in waiting for visibility to increase before venturing into the swirling hurricane known as health-care reform.
The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the eye of the storm really only determined that the weather forecast was for high, hot oratorical winds with very limited visibility. Probably no matter the November election results, this storm is going to make shore on the doorstep of most Americans.
What actually is unknown is the category classification. It could be disastrous; it could be not much more than a tropical storm good mainly for a general financial soaking ... but of ultimate benefit to our society’s harvest.
Georgia officials, particularly as regards the Medicaid expansion component, have valid concerns because there are so many unanswered questions. They are hardly alone. Many individuals — and most certainly those operating businesses of a certain size — are similarly at sea.
THERE ARE too many unknowns, too many bureaucratic regulations not yet written or implemented, too big a potential riptide of governmental nitpickers and paperwork waves to proceed in an orderly fashion.
Indeed, Georgia officials should be applauded. Unlike some of their counterparts of the Republican persuasion elsewhere they have not reacted with a kneejerk “Hell, no! We won’t do it!” Frankly, the throwback mentality to this nation’s divisions of some 150 years ago are both unsettling ... and informative. Even after all this time, the end of slavery still has aftereffects rippling through our society. Health-care reform may well take as long to be ironed out ... and is no less a fundamental and unbearable problem that must be resolved.
It is worth noting that Greater Rome actually started tackling it long before Washington got to that point — that’s why Floyd Medical Center has existed since 1942.
Nonetheless, this oddly constructed federal-level solution has not had our support or that of most in this region. Americans by nature don’t like being told they must do anything beyond being civil to one another.
HOWEVER, THAT should never be misconstrued as advocacy for the notion it is OK to let the sick or injured among us writhe in pain or die if unable to afford care — or that in such circumstances a profit motive should ever apply. Such would, after all, be entirely incompatible with a nation of claimed Christian principles.
Nor should it be overlooked — also largely unmentioned as politicians pontificate and pose — that this sloppy and confusing and now-legal mess appears to be the best our leaders could come up with in almost 100 years of talking about health-care protection for all (Teddy Roosevelt first brought it up; Franklin Roosevelt first put in on the national to-do list).
Thus, even if this turns out to be a lemon, somehow lemonade must be made out of it. It is all that is there to quench the shared thirst to stay alive.
Of course, it helps to know there is a pitcher to squeeze it into and if there is going to be enough sugar available to make it palatable.
Which is why David Cook, Georgia’s community health commissioner, recently held off implementing the state’s planned overhaul of its Medicaid program even though it is bleeding deficit dollars.
BRIAN ROBINSON, the governor’s spokesman, summed it up well in explaining: “There are simply too many unknowns at this time to move forward fully with a program that has significant upfront costs. The state isn’t saying ‘no.’ The state is saying ‘not yet.’”
Interestingly enough, while the “price tag” to the state is indeed huge at $4.5 billion over 10 years it goes unsaid that such a sum is way, way less than the added penny sales tax for transportation on the July 31 ballot. If all regions of the state approve that the estimated price tag is $18 billion over 10 years. Call that just a bit of needed perspective.
Georgia is also putting off a decision on setting up the state-level insurance exchanges the federal law authorizes, a place where everybody can go to seek coverage and be assured of walking away with something. And, if unable to afford it due to income, be given a federal subsidy on a sliding scale. Deal is waiting on that one, as well, to see how things shake out.
This, by the way, may have much to do with the governor until recently having served in Congress where he was part of the health-care debate (and delayed his resignation from the U.S. House in order to cast a vote against the current measure). He’s thus probably far more familiar with both the law and its complexity than most of his counterparts, some of whom have already said no to the exchanges and even plan to fight Washington’s authority to step in and handle this role itself.
That’s a pretty dicey position. If the federal government can’t insure/protect citizens where’s that leave Social Security ... or crop, flood and bank-deposit insurance for that matter? None of this is as simple as some try to make it sound.
ASPECTS SUCH as this, now receiving little attention, are actually the far more interesting and argue heavily that, like it or not, this lemon will get squeezed.
The actual problem, for which no solution is yet obvious, is not so much how to deal with those Americans who simply hate lemonade and refuse to drink it. It is more about how, putting it into a Southern perspective, to make the stuff taste more like sweet tea with a squeeze of lemon added.