Georgia will offer Medicaid coverage to a small number of low-income residents in exchange for 80 hours of work or volunteer time per month.
Surprisingly, the Biden administration did not appeal a federal court decision that gave Georgia the right to test the work-for-Medicaid program. This program was first approved by Trump for 12 states and later canceled by Biden.
It will cost more than standard Medicaid coverage, and it won’t cover many Georgians because of its strict requirements. Kemp thinks it’s worthwhile.
“The best case scenario is that some Georgians without insurance would be covered for a period of time,” Laura Colbert, executive director at Georgians for a Healthy Future told the Atlanta Journal-Journal Constitution. It’s going to be a major headache for both the state and those who try to enroll.
Colbert stated that Georgia’s cost per enrollee for the work requirement program will be at least three-fold higher than under regular Medicaid expansion.
Under the full expansion, the federal government would have covered at least 90% of the cost of providing insurance for hundreds of thousands of Georgians. This compares to the 67% expected matching rate from federal officials under the more modest Kemp plan. According to KFF estimates, that $710 million in Biden administration incentives for Georgia’s expansion would not be included in that difference.
In fact, most Georgians will be kept off the rolls by barriers to enrollment. According to the AJC, it would be difficult for full-time caregivers, those with mental health conditions, substance abuse disorders, or people who are unable to work, to become eligible for disability coverage.
Given the high cost of the expansion and the smaller number of participants, it is difficult to see why Obamacare would allow full Medicaid expansion. Many states, which initially refused full expansion because they were concerned that Obamacare would not be recognized as constitutional and be repealed, are now accepting the reality of Obamacare’s existence.
Kemp’s concept of a “workfare program” is a good idea. It is important to address the “moral hazard”, of getting nothing for your tax dollars. This is one way to do so.
Is it the best?
Kathryn Lawler is the CEO of Saint Joseph’s Health System in Atlanta, a non-profit that helps people who are homeless.
She said that sixty percent of Mercy Care’s patients are homeless. She said that Medicaid expansion would allow patients to afford medical care, treat chronic conditions and reduce stress from paying for them.
Lawler stated that people who require medical care are often too sick to work. Lawler also said that a single mom with three children may not be eligible for Medicaid. She stated that Mercy Care would eventually be able to serve more people in dire need if it received full Medicaid expansion through increased payments to providers.
The original decision by the federal court that allowed the program to proceed was not appealed by the Biden administration. Some observers think it might be waiting to see whether the program fails. Some others believe that it could have taken the case to another appellate court and the judges might have confirmed its legality, strengthening the program.
Kemp claims that the program will be available in July.