Centuries old downtown Atlanta hospital, Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center (formerly Georgia Baptist Hospital) is scheduled to close in November of 2022. Wellstar claims it could not continue to operate the hospital at a loss. Wellstar AMC claimed more than $262 million in uncompensated indigent care in the most recent years reported. The national labor shortage also affected the hospital. AMC has 460 beds, but could only staff 200. Wellstar contends that closing AMC will allow it to fully staff other Georgia Wellstar hospitals.
Georgia remains a state that has not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Under full Medicaid expansion, an estimated 500,000 Georgians would gain coverage. Axios Atlanta reported last month that some Georgia Republicans are quietly changing their minds about Medicaid expansion. Expanding Medicaid would allow for 90% federal health insurance coverage for low income residents. Georgia is one of 12 states that have not expanded Medicaid under the ACA. If passed, an estimated 500,000 Georgians would gain coverage. Poll show that a majority of Georgians support expansion.
Two factors have influenced the shift in political thought on Medicaid expansion: hospital closures and COVID-19. Eight rural hospitals have closed in addition to AMC downtown. Medicaid coverage would have added revenue for those uninsured requiring care. Second, COVID-19 federal funds for hospitalized patients will end soon, causing a loss of coverage for over 250,000 currently insured.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams has made Medicaid expansion a core pillar of her campaign platform.