Abrams calls for Medicaid expansion, more money for police and teachers

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Aug. 3—Stacey Abrams, the Democratic Party candidate for governor, said her campaign is all about expanding opportunity.

"People want opportunity," she said. "They want to know that they'll have a governor who will expand Medicaid. For a lot of folks, healthcare is what determines whether they can make changes in their lives. Medical debt is hurting a lot of folks."

Abrams, a former Georgia House of Representatives minority leader, faces incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp and Libertarian Shane Hazel in the Nov. 8 general election. Kemp narrowly defeated Abrams in the 2018 governor's race.

Abrams met recently with the Dalton Daily Citizen during a campaign stop in the city.

Abrams said she favors expansion of Medicaid, the federal-state program that provides health insurance for low-income individuals. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — often referred to as Obamacare — provides money to states to expand coverage to those earning up to 138% of the poverty level, which differs by state. Georgia officials have so far declined to expand Medicaid, citing concerns about the long-term funding of the expansion. Abrams said the state government is passing up money that its citizens are owed.

"We are entitled to $3.5 billion every year," she said. "To draw it down would cost us $270 million, so we put in 10 cents, we get back 90 cents. and we have already paid for it. Every taxpayer in Whitfield County has paid to solve this problem, but Georgia has refused to accept the money."

She said expanding Medicaid would attract more healthcare providers to low-income areas where people may not have access to private healthcare.

She said that across the state "people want to talk about safety, gun safety, the violent crime increase. There's also a lot of talk about justice, especially from our minority communities. We want law enforcement, but we also want accountability."

She has proposed a public safety incentive grant.

"Local governments could apply for the money for whatever their needs are," she said. "For some, they would need the money to invest in salaries. We have a lot of shortages in law enforcement. Our local agencies are not only competing with each other, they are competing with Tennessee, with Alabama, with the Carolinas, with Florida."

She said law enforcement is also called on to deal with people having mental health crises.

"The (state) legislature passed a law allowing (mental health) co-responders to go with them," she said. "But they only put roughly $850,000 behind the initiative. I want to invest more in programs such as this."

Abrams said expanding Medicaid could also have a positive impact on crime because it could help low-income people with substance abuse or mental health issues receive treatment.

Abrams said she would work with the legislature to increase pay for public school teachers.

"Right now, the starting salary in Georgia is $39,000," she said. "In most of Georgia you can't take care of your family on that. We have too many teachers who are working two or three jobs. They are taking jobs so they can afford to teach. If you are in the classroom with children for eight hours a day the minimum we should be paying is $50,000 a year."

She said she would push to have the state fund incentives for teachers who truly excel.

Abrams said she would work to overturn Georgia's "heartbeat bill."

That bill, which passed in 2019 but did not take effect until the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade earlier this year, bans abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which is usually around the sixth week of a pregnancy.

"Georgia has the same law as Texas," she said. "Already in Texas women have been investigated for miscarriages.

Georgia law allows that. Now, the governor will say 'You can't be prosecuted.'

But prosecution happens after an investigation, so women can be investigated for miscarriages."

Abrams invites voters to visit her website, staceyabrams.com, to find out more about her policy proposals.

"I've got a robust set of plans for Georgia," she said.

"And if you go to my website you'll see all of the ways I want to help. We can do all of these things without raising a dollar of taxes. We can do it without dipping into our rainy day fund. If they go to my website they can actually see the math."