September 20, 2018 2:15 PM
Today, Geoff Duncan, Republican candidate for Lt. Governor of Georgia, released his rural health care plan. Duncan’s plan rejects Medicaid expansion as a “political solution that promises free health care in exchange for votes.”
Duncan states that “we have to get away from judging success by the size of the federal program. We should judge success by how successful we are. In this case, better health outcomes come from local solutions. Medicaid does not deliver the best health care. Its appeal to the Left is that it delivers more power to government and more control over people’s lives.”
Duncan further stated that “when Congress founded Medicaid, it was a program to help poor women and their children and the disabled. But Medicaid’s huge expansion is now contributing to the national debt and straining Georgia’s budget. It has more waste, fraud and abuse than any health insurance program in the country.”
Duncan’s plan outlines four models:
- Telehealth. From “seeing” a doctor on your smart phone to a specialist for a procedure via Skype at a local hospital, telehealth makes health care more accessible and affordable to Georgians as it reduces the cost of infrastructure and creates real-time interaction between doctors and patients. In rural communities, telehealth provides access to care where there is a tremendous shortage of primary care doctors and specialists. Our state should pursue available federal grants so telehealth sites can be set up in health clinics, physicians’ offices, fire stations and a host of other potential locations that can provide primary care and disease management.
- Georgia’s Rural Hospital Tax Credit Program. Our state currently allows corporations and individuals to donate up to $60 million annually to a program to benefit rural hospitals. In exchange for the credit on their state income taxes, hospitals can use the funds to purchase equipment and make other improvements. Fifty-eight hospitals have generated an average of $600,000 to $1.4 million since the launch of the tax credit initiative — no strings attached. Lawmakers should raise the cap to $100 million so hospitals can meet the unique health care needs of each community.
- Charitable and community health care clinics. We have a network of charitable clinics that were founded by churches, charities and local physicians’ groups or hospitals and are staffed with doctors, nurses and other medical personnel who donate their time to treat the working poor. They charge patients on a sliding scale basis which benefits those who earn too little to afford health insurance but too much to qualify for Medicaid. In addition, we have federal-funded health clinics offering the same services in local communities. We need to do more to expand the scope and availability of these clinics so the uninsured have access to care.
- Competition into the health care marketplace. Georgia needs to examine high-risk pools and association health plans so the uninsured have choices other than wildly expensive Obamacare plans. In addition, we need to require more price transparency in the health care marketplace so patients can shop and compare what hospitals and physicians charge for their services. We also need to explore whether Georgia should continue with its antiquated certificate of need law which allows one medical facility to shut out another in offering services such as heart procedures or delivering babies in an effort to monopolize revenue at the expense of patient access and increased costs.