Report: Medicaid Expansion Would Be A Financial Boon In Ga.

Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press

Georgia could pull down $8 to $9 from the federal government for every one state dollar it spends to expand Medicaid, according to a new report from the Urban Institute.

The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit looked at Georgia and the 18 other states that have not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

The findings show Georgia could get from $8.86 to $9.42 for every state dollar it spends to expand the federal health program that covers the poor and disabled, depending on how many people enroll in the program.

Nationally, higher Medicaid caseloads would increase state spending by an estimated $75.9 billion to $83.5 billion, but federal Medicaid funding would also increase by $568.5 billion to $634.5 billion. The report concludes that for those 19 states that haven’t expanded, a small investment of state dollars would bring in much more federal funding.

“For Georgia it will mean much greater federal investment and federal spending at the local level, which will have an economic impact,” said Matthew Buettgens, senior research analyst at the Urban Institute’s health policy center and one of the authors of the report.

The ACA calls for states to expand Medicaid coverage to those whose incomes fall at or below 138 percent of poverty. The Obama administration agreed to cover 100 percent of that expansion through 2016, and then phase down to 90 percent by 2020. States would fund the remaining 10 percent.  

Since Obamacare’s rollout, Georgia’s Republican lawmakers have resisted the call to expand Medicaid, arguing the state can’t afford to cover its share of the costs.

In recent months, some GOP lawmakers have started to reverse that stance, especially as more rural hospitals face closure.

Still, any change will face stiff opposition in the legislature.