Politics is a nasty line of work. Political opponents frequently make mean-spirited jabs at one another. Because of the fierce nature of the business, these comments are accepted, to an extent. However, on Sept. 6, the Georgia chapter of the NAACP went too far. The organization tweeted that Gov. Brian Kemp must fully expand Medicaid and that “anything less is state-sponsored genocide.”
The attack from the Georgia NAACP on Governor Kemp was out of line, counterproductive and not grounded in fact.
It is understandable why the Georgia NAACP wants to prioritize the issue. The Census Bureau reports that Georgia had a 13.4% uninsured rate in 2017, higher than the 8.7% national uninsured rate and the fourth-highest rate in the country, behind only Texas, Oklahoma and Alaska. And, according to the Georgia Board of Health Care Workforce, many rural counties lack certain specialized doctors, and eight counties do not have any doctors. For many Georgians, this is a matter of life and death. However, the Georgia NAACP’s statement will only slow progress on this crucial issue.
The tweet will damage relationships between political leaders. It is particularly disappointing to see this rhetoric from a liberal organization, given that liberals often decry President Donald Trump as divisive. According to Greg Bluestein, a reporter at the AJC, several Georgia Republicans were “aghast” at the comment, suggesting the tweet will reduce lawmakers’ ability to work together.
It also ignores how Kemp has already improved Georgia’s health care system. During the past year, the Georgia government passed Senate Bill 106, which allows the governor to request changes to Georgia’s Medicaid and Affordable Care Act insurance programs from the federal government. The law is not perfect. It allows the governor to make requests without approval from the legislature, perhaps giving him too much power. Still, the bill demonstrates a desire to address constituents’ health care concerns.
And that wasn’t all they did, either. In the past year, Georgia has legalized needle exchanges, set aside funding to increase the number of doctors in rural areas and allowed the growing, producing, selling and transporting of medical marijuana. These examples represent tangible benefits for Georgians who need better care.
In a time defined by inflamed rhetoric, we must recognize our common goal of serving Georgians. Although our health care system needs work, the Georgia NAACP has only hurt its ability to make improvements through its unfair and irresponsible attack.