Support efforts to increase Medicaid eligibility and access to healthcare

We understand that Georgia is facing increased demands on its Medicaid program due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Georgia legislators should not impose any work requirements that would lock Georgians out of healthcare coverage. Instead, Georgia should streamline enrollment to expedite coverage for eligible families and minimize administrative burden for overwhelmed eligibility workers. We oppose work requirements and any policies that reduce access to Medicaid amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Current Georgia Legislation:

  • House Bill 163, sponsored by Representative Sharon Cooper (R-43), directs Georgia’s Medicaid program to adopt “express lane” eligibility for kids who qualify for Medicaid coverage. The change would make it easier for uninsured Georgia kids who already qualify for Medicaid to enroll and stay covered. The House passed HB 163 in early February and the Senate Health and Human Services Committee later approved it.
  • Senate Bill 172, sponsored by Senator Gloria Butler (D-55), would allow Georgia to fully expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Georgia is one of only 12 states that continues to reject federal money to cover low-income adults. Medicaid expansion would cover more than 500,000 Georgians. SB 172 has not yet been considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

We support these efforts to increase Medicaid eligibility and healthcare access in Georgia.

Past Georgia Legislation: In February, Senator Blake Tillery (R-19) introduced Senate Bill 106, seeking an 1115 and 1332 Medicaid waiver. An 1115 Medicaid waiver provides states with the ability to experiment with or tailor their Medicaid programs, while a 1332 waiver addresses plans offered on the exchange. On March 27, 2019, Governor Kemp signed the bill into law. Though we are concerned that the 1115 waiver is limited to those only up to 100% of the federal poverty level ($12,100 annually for an individual), we look forward to working with the Governor’s office to make the waiver proposal as helpful as it can be for the maximum amount of Georgians.

Additionally, introduced by Rep. Bob Trammell (D-132) and Senator Steve Henson (D-41) respectively, House Bill 37 and Senate Bill 36 would expand Medicaid in Georgia as envisioned by the Affordable Care Act by increasing Medicaid eligibility for adults up to 138% of the federal poverty level (FPL). This is equivalent to $17,236 annually for an individual and $29,435 for a family of three. Georgia Watch supports closing the coverage gap by expanding Medicaid coverage to all Georgians below 138 percent FPL. These bills were left behind in favor of SB 106.

Previously, in 2018, House of Representatives Minority Leader Robert Trammel filed House Bill 669. The health subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee held a hearing on this Medicaid expansion bill on March 20, 2018. Unfortunately the bill did not advance during the 2017-2018 Legislative Session.