Georgia wants to partially expand Medicaid and still get all the federal subsidies that come with full expansion.
But a development late last week is likely to have an effect in Georgia.
The Trump administration told state leaders in Utah that its Medicaid plan, which is similar to what lawmakers have in mind for Georgia, was going to be denied.
So where does Georgia go from here?
“When there’s a deal on the table where you can pay just 10 percent as opposed to just over 30 percent of costs, it would be smart for Georgia to go back to the Legislature and ask permission to extend coverage to those just above the poverty line,” said Laura Colbert with Georgians for a Healthy Future.
But Kyle Wingfield with the Georgia Public Policy Foundation argues that waivers should be used to “deliver Medicaid in a better way.”
“We don’t believe that simply putting more people on the traditional Medicaid program is either sustainable or really in the best interest of the recipients,” Wingfield said. “We do believe that there are ways that you can adjust the Medicaid program through a waiver to make it work better.”
While views differ on what Georgia should do, the rejection of Utah’s waiver plan likely means a different approach, according to Bill Custer, a professor who teaches public health administration at Georgia State.
“What this means is that they’re probably not going to be able to do a partial expansion,” said Custer. “They still can do something that looks like a partial expansion.”
He points to what Arkansas has implemented. It’s a so-called “private option” that allows more residents to use Medicaid dollars to buy insurance.
Gov. Brian Kemp’s office, which is creating the waiver application, offered no comment.
An advisory committee met for the first time in July and listened to a presentation on the state of health insurance coverage in Georgia. That committee is asked to provide feedback as the state prepares its waiver application, which it plans to submit by year’s end.