Georgia is now the only state in the US to implement work requirements in its Medicaid program – a feat many Republican lawmakers nationwide will be closely monitoring. But unlike GOP-led states’ prior attempts to impose work mandates in Medicaid, Georgia’s effort is expected to increase the number of people with health insurance, rather than strip coverage away from an untold number of low-income residents. That allowed it to pass muster in court, though critics still deride the program as complicated, ineffective and expensive.
Fully expanding Medicaid would cover far more people and at a lower cost to the state, said Leah Chan, the institute’s director of health justice. Some 482,000 Georgians earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level – or about $20,100 for an individual – could gain coverage.
If Georgia fully expanded Medicaid, each newly eligible enrollee would cost the state about $496, Chan said. But under Pathways to Coverage, each will cost $2,490 because the program does not qualify for the enhanced federal match.
“It doesn’t make sense for us to implement a program that’s going to cover fewer people at a higher cost when we have an option that could close the coverage gap and draw down millions and millions – some estimates say billions – in federal dollars,” Chan said.