Georgia lawmakers to consider full Medicaid expansion during the legislative session
Georgia Democratic lawmakers are making full Medicaid expansion a top priority this legislative session. Expanding Medicaid is a move the governor has long resisted, and it’s not included in his proposed $32 billion budget.
Gov. Brian Kemp’s proposal calls for $52 million to fund the implementation of his Georgia Pathways plan, a limited expansion of Medicaid that would cover around 50,000 people if they meet work or volunteer requirements.
The plan would make Georgia the first state in the nation to mandate a work requirement for Medicaid coverage.
It was first approved by the Trump administration and then challenged by the Biden administration. Then, last summer, a federal judge allowed the plan to move forward.
“It’s not going to do what we need to do in Georgia and we have a budget surplus,” said Macon Democratic Minority Leader James Beverly.
Beverly has introduced a bill to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act fully.
It would cover more than $400,000 working adults who earn up to 138% of the federal poverty level, which is $41,400 for a family of four.
“And so who does that cover? It covers the folks who work at Target who don’t have the wherewithal to get health insurance. It covers the people who work at Walmart, maybe a part-time paraprofessional who doesn’t quite make enough money to make ends meet. And those folk need health care,” he said.
Full Medicaid expansion would also allow the state to tap into more federal funding per person enrolled in Medicaid–90%, compared to roughly 70% under Pathways.
The perennial push for full expansion likely faces steep odds again this legislative session.
Georgia is currently one of 11 states that have not fully expanded Medicaid.
State lawmakers are scheduled to begin budget hearings Tuesday. They must pass a final budget by the end of March.