Health, News

Thousands Kicked Off Medicaid Are Cautiously Optimistic After Georgia Promises To Revisit Purge

Earlier this month, the Georgia Department of Community Health purged 17,000--roughly one percent--of the state's Medicaid recipients because, the department told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, they didn't respond to renewal notices.
Earlier this month, the Georgia Department of Community Health purged 17,000--roughly one percent--of the state's Medicaid recipients because, the department told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, they didn't respond to renewal notices.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press

Medicaid is a lifeline for more than 1.7 million Georgians. The joint federal/state health insurance program for those with low incomes, the disabled, and seniors in nursing homes is the only way many can access the health system.

Earlier this month, the Georgia Department of Community Health purged 17,000–roughly one percent–of the state’s Medicaid recipients because, the department told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, they didn’t respond to renewal notices. Attorneys for some of those purged say the state never sent any notices, and their clients had no idea why they’d lost coverage.

On Friday, state health officials said they’d reverse the purge and allow those affected to re-apply.

But not everyone is convinced.

Both Alisa Haber, staff attorney with the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, as well as Ida James, 84-year-old Locust Grove resident, are skeptical.

James is raising a 10-year-old and a 20-year-old with special needs, children she adopted from foster care when they were young. Recently, Haber and James sat down with WABE’s “All Things Considered” host Jim Burress to talk about their hesitancy to take the state at its word.  [To hear that conversation, click the ‘play’ icon above.]

Monday afternoon, the Georgia Department of Community Health issued this statement to WABE News:

Out of an abundance of caution, DCH will reinstate the 17,000 individuals who were disenrolled on May 31, and their benefits will be retroactive to June 1. They will also receive new renewal notices. The renewal notices for this specific group of individuals will be generated mid-July; they should start receiving them in the week to 10 days following. In addition, 13,000 more individuals who had failed to respond to renewal notices and were scheduled to be disenrolled will be sent new renewal notices as well shortly thereafter. All recipients must respond to those renewal notices, or risk disenrollment again. Please note, there is a deadline in the letters for reenrollment, and that deadline must be met. DCH is also asking each of those Medicaid recipients to please log into their accounts to make sure the addresses that are on record are correct to ensure that notices are properly delivered to the respective individuals. Updating a mailing and/or email address is the responsibility of the covered individual. Recipients can reenroll and/or update information in one of three ways: 1.) by logging  into their accounts via their Georgia Gateway computer account, 2.) going into their local county DFCS office, or 3.) by calling the Medicaid 1-877-423-4746 customer service line. To reiterate, this is/was not a purge, but rather ensuring availability of assistance to those who are eligible as required by federal law. –Fiona Roberts, Spokesperson, Ga Dept. of Community Health