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Georgia’s Governor Wants to Deny Poor People Emergency Care

Georgia’s Governor Wants to Deny Poor People Emergency Care

Georgia’s Governor, Nathan Deal, has a new money saving plan that he’s pitching to his colleagues in Washington D.C.: stop providing health services to Americans who can’t afford it. Feeling that their presence bogs down hospitals, he wants to free emergency rooms from the obligation of having to take care of poor people.

In 1986, the federal government enacted the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act. The legislation ensures that both pregnant women and people in need of immediate medical care aren’t turned away for being unable to pay the skyrocketing hospital bills. Though the Act hardly fixed the myriad of problems with health care in the United States, it has definitely helped Americans living in poverty.

This legislation doesn’t sit well with the conservative governor, however. Deal doesn’t believe that it’s fair for facilities to be obligated to treat poor people, thereby overflowing emergency rooms and turning them into unprofitable businesses. Accordingly, he’s calling on Congress to reverse the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act so that hospitals can stay open and treat people who are financially well-off more efficiently, the poor be damned.

Well, not quite damned. In his speech, Deal said, “I think we should be able in this passage of time to figure out ways to deal with those situations [of treating the poor] but not have the excessive costs associated with unnecessary visits to the emergency room.” In other words, he wants to get rid of the legislation that protects the lower class now and eventually address these problems in other ways. Those who get sick or pregnant in the meantime are out of luck, apparently.

As The Rachel Maddow Show points out, though, the easiest way for hospitals to manage the costs of treating poor people — without having to turn them away — is to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. That way, hospitals would be reimbursed for the care they provide and can keep their doors open without financial concerns.

There’s one problem with that, though: Governor Deal is actively blocking the Affordable Care Act in his state and advocating for Obamacare to be repealed. By most accounts, Deal is “doing everything in his power to ensure the law’s failure in Georgia,” leaving 20% of his constituents without any health care. Therefore, it should be no surprise why people are showing up at hospitals unable to pay for their care.

Interestingly, Republicans have often said that the Affordable Care Act is unnecessary because the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act already exists to take care of the uninsured. Governor Deal, however, has made it clear that he doesn’t want either.

Lately, Governor Deal has not shied away from controversy. Just two days after his statements about emergency treatment, he said that he saw no problem with allowing custom Confederate flag license plates in his state because “it is a part of a cultural heritage of our state.” Perhaps that sentiment is to be expected from a politician who seems – at best – indifferent to the idea of poor people remaining sick and untreated.

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5:39AM PDT on Sep 21, 2014

Thank you

5:12AM PDT on May 15, 2014

Nathan Deal must think he is better than anybody else since he doesn't want to share his hospital with people who can't afford to pay!! What a jerk!

10:14AM PDT on Apr 16, 2014

It didn't mention his party. But I looked it up. Yep, he's a Republican.

10:13AM PDT on Apr 16, 2014

Before I read the article, I'm going to guess the Governor is a Republican. Now let's see.

10:09PM PDT on Apr 12, 2014


6:11AM PDT on Mar 10, 2014

Since the dawn of humanity, there have been systems in place for those who have enough to look after those who don't. This, surely, is one of the things that defines us as humans. What this guy says shows the sort of person he, and those who agree with him are.

7:52PM PDT on Mar 9, 2014

I'm poor, I'm angry AND I VOTE! I can't imagine not caring enough about local/national issues to not even bother voting.

6:02AM PDT on Mar 9, 2014

How can this "person" get away with what he is suggesting? It does show the importance of voting, but also, we should look at the importance of being human and caring for each other, which this man doesn't seem to care for the people who are down and out!!! Some day, maybe sooner than he thinks, he will be unemployed, sick, or become permanently disabled, and then what would he do? I am positive he would fight and say that he had rights....but why is it, that because he is not in need today, he is willing to be unkind, and inhumane? I think that someone should explain to him what KARMA is, because he will find out sooner or later...and hopefully sooner!!!

4:00PM PST on Mar 8, 2014

What can you expect from a southern state that is still fighting the Civil War?

2:58AM PST on Mar 8, 2014


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