Abrams: Medicaid expansion a key issue in governor campaign

Gubernatorial candidate makes stop at former Southwest Ga. Regional Medical Center
Video from WALB
Published: Mar. 14, 2022 at 4:53 PM EDT
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CUTHBERT, Ga. (WALB) - Gubernatorial Candidate Stacey Abrams made her first campaign stop in Cuthbert to talk about Medicaid expansion.

A closed sign and no emergency services offered are all that’s left at what was the only hospital in Cuthbert.

The hospital was built in the late 40s. A closed sign and no emergency services offered are all...
The hospital was built in the late 40s. A closed sign and no emergency services offered are all that’s left at what was the only hospital in Cuthbert.(WALB)

Mayor Bobby Jenkins said the hospital was around for decades, opening in the late 40s. Now years later, gone.

“I remember my wife’s aunt got sick. Had to rush her to the emergency room up here and just to think if there was no emergency room, you got to wait for 30, 40 minutes to get services. That’s just frightening,” said Jenkins.

Rhonda Jones Johnson lived that fear. With the closest emergency room being an hour away, she watched her aunt take her last breath waiting on an ambulance.

“It made us feel like we were helpless. It was out of our hands because she needed emergency care and the only thing we could do was at home chest compressions,” she said.

Not only was Jones Johnson born in this hospital, but she also worked there as a registered nurse. Watching it close was devasting — especially during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

″At that time we needed the hospital to stay open because we had so many people in Randolph County dying from COVID. They feel like they are left here to die because they don’t have an emergency room,” said Jones Johnson.

Rhonda Jones Johnson was a nurse at the hospital in Cuthbert before it closed.
Rhonda Jones Johnson was a nurse at the hospital in Cuthbert before it closed.(WALB)

The issue they’re hoping can bring the hospital back is expanding Medicaid — one of the major issues Abrams is running on in her race to become governor.

Abrams said Medicaid expansion would give 520 more people in Cuthbert alone health insurance.

“Our responsibility is to not impose our own notions who deserves to be healthy and who deserves to have support. We need to do what the Bible tells us and to take care of the sick and poor among us,” said Abrams.

Abrams said Medicaid expansion would take care of uncompensated care where people who can’t afford to go to the doctor get seen through emergency services — a cost the taxpayer takes care of.

“When you see your property tax inch up but the value of your house hasn’t, part of that is to pay for uncompensated care. When we expand Medicaid, that county government gets that money back,” said Abrams

With the money left over from more people with health care, Abrams said that county can then invest in an ambulance, roads and the school system.

The Republican National Committee commented about Abram’s tour around the state.

“While it’s refreshing to see Stacey Abrams finally bring her one woman show to the Peach State, Georgians are not interested in hearing her promote the same radical policies that have resulted in record high gas prices and the highest inflation rate in 40 years,” the committee said in a statement.

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