More evidence that expanding Medicaid is an offer Georgia shouldn’t refuse

Posted by Timothy Sweeney

Fully implementing health care reform in Georgia would extend insurance coverage to more than 1 million Georgians — including 700,000 by just expanding Medicaid. The cost to the state? A mere 1 percent bump in overall spending over 10 years.

Those figures, from a new Urban Institute study, are a timely reminder to policymakers weighing the Medicaid expansion that it’s a great deal for Georgia and will improve the lives of residents struggling to afford health care. The new report (which can be found here) estimates that full implementation of the Medicaid expansion, along with other provisions of the Affordable Care Act, would reduce the number of Georgians without health insurance by more than half. But biggest impact would come from Medicaid expansion, which will be largely covered by federal funds.

Georgia would spend $2.5 billion more on Medicaid over 10 years if it expands, according to the analysis.  Although this may sound like a lot of money, it amounts to barely a 6 percent increase in Georgia’s Medicaid spending over the decade and only 1 percent growth in total state spending over this time frame. Moreover, the state budget impact is further mitigated because the Medicaid expansion would reduce the amount the state would otherwise have to spend on health care for the uninsured by $700 million.

The new state spending amounts to only a few hundred dollars for each new Medicaid enrollee per year. Surely Georgia can afford this modest investment to ensure that more Georgians can go to the doctor when they’re sick, can get medications to manage chronic conditions, and aren’t forced to turn to emergency rooms as a last resort.

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