Mad doctors: Medicaid wasn't expanded -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Mad doctor: Why wasn't Medicaid expanded?

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Dr. Charles Mendenhall. Dr. Charles Mendenhall.

Dr. Charles Mendenhall is upset, to put it mildly. He has been treating cancer patients in south Georgia for 30 years.  In all that time, he's rarely been as frustrated by an issue as he is now.  

"Well the patients that I take care of and provide care, whether they have Medicaid, don't have Medicaid, regardless about a third of the patients I take care of have no funding what so ever," said Mendenhall.  

He says the state threw away an opportunity to change that. Under Obamacare, the federal government would have fully paid to expand Medicaid for three years and covered 90% of the costs after that.  He says that would have provided insurance for an extra 650,000 struggling Georgians.  Instead, Mendenhall says he and Phoebe Putney will continue to treat many of those patients for free.  

"It is a problem for the hospital because this piece of equipment is over $3 million, and this is going to probably have to be replaced in the next two or three years, so the question is where is Phoebe going to find the money to buy two or three new machines like this?" said Mendenhall.  

Phoebe Chief Medical Officer Doug Patten agrees the decision to turn down money from the federal government will hurt the hospital.  

"Hospitals and health systems are struggling, but we will figure out a way to adapt and that's what we will do, we will work with other physicians and medical staff to figure out a way to adapt," said Patten.  

Mendenhall says some lawmakers just do not understand the need for the Medicaid expansion.

"My challenge is you feel that way, you come on down here, and spend four or five days walking around in here seeing these people day in and day out, and talk to me after five days and see how you feel then."

But Mendenhall says he'll continue to focus on the patients, even if they have no way to pay for their care.  "I'm going to take care of them anyway, always have always will."

So far, 26 states have expanded their Medicaid programs. Four others are considering it.


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