RECAP: GBPI Hosts Press Call on Poll Urging Legislators to Provide Support for DFCS Ahead of Medicaid Unwinding
ATLANTA, GEORGIA — Yesterday, the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, along with other health care access advocates, held a virtual press call urging legislators to provide support for The Department of Children and Family Services (DFCS) ahead of the Medicaid unwinding. DFCS staff are overworked, underpaid and unprepared to handle the Medicaid unwinding. While the Governor has taken some steps to provide more resources to state agencies, like modest employee pay raises and technology improvements, these measures are built upon a weak infrastructure that cannot support the full deployment of the redetermination process.
Like all states, Georgia will face a massive volume of redeterminations that need to be completed within a 14-month period, which increases the risk that individuals will be erroneously determined ineligible or lose coverage for avoidable procedural reasons. Gov. Kemp proposed $3.8 million to hire 380 new eligibility caseworkers for DFCS. The administration also recommended a $2,000 pay increase for these workers and $2 million for technology upgrades, but more is needed to meet the agency’s needs.
Statement from GBPI Director of Economic Justice Ife Finch Floyd
“DFCS eligibility workers will face an unprecedented challenge during Medicaid unwinding. There have been news reports that high workloads, long hours and insufficient pay are putting a tremendous strain on agency staff. Many DFCS frontline workers have quit. With Medicaid unwinding just weeks away, these problems are sure to worsen as caseloads increase to unprecedented levels. If the state does not do more to address these challenges, hundreds of thousands of Georgians could fall through the cracks and lose access to critical health care while employee turnover rates at the agency continue to climb. To retain staff, lawmakers must invest in bonuses and pay increases for DFCS eligibility workers to help ensure Georgians do not lose coverage unnecessarily.”
Statement from Georgians for a Healthy Future Health Policy Analyst Whitney Griggs
“When Medicaid redeterminations begin on April 1, the state estimates that over 500,000 Georgians will lose coverage during the 12-14 month unwinding period. We know that children make up almost 70 percent of Medicaid enrollees, so they will be the most impacted by coverage losses. Within that population, children that belong to historically marginalized groups, such as Black children, Hispanic children, and children living in rural parts of the state, are most at risk for coverage losses and having gaps in coverage. There needs to be more investment in community-based organizations that will conduct outreach and education activities to let Medicaid enrollees know there may be changes to their coverage and that they need to update their information.”
Statement from Pediatrician Dr. Sagar Mehta
“My role as an emergency room provider affords me a special privilege of meeting children and families in some of their most vulnerable times. I’ve recently begun speaking with patients’ families during my encounters to assess their knowledge and understanding of the Medicaid unwinding process and provide helpful resources. Over the past few weeks of shifts, I have been incredibly disheartened to have not met a single family that was aware of these upcoming changes. A lapse in coverage, even if temporary, could be devastating for families, as continuous medical coverage is often essential to their child’s day-to-day health and functioning. It is imperative that Lawmakers provide additional support to DFCS to ensure that Georgia’s families have a seamless continuation of health coverage.”
To support Medicaid clients and help avoid massive losses in health care coverage for children and adults covered by Medicaid, state legislators need to amend the Amended FY 2023 and FY 2024 budgets to include:
- Sub-grants to community-based organizations who can serve as trusted messengers and provide localized and culturally appropriate education and outreach, and where possible, assist with re-enrollment or transitions to marketplace coverage.
- Retention bonuses and/or pay raises for Department of Human Services’ Office of Family Independence staff involved in benefits eligibility processing.
You can view the press call recording here.
The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute (GBPI) strives to be an anti-racist research and advocacy organization that advances lasting solutions to expand economic opportunity and well-being for all Georgians. We examine the state’s budget, taxes and public policies to provide thoughtful analysis and responsible solutions that address inequities in our state. We educate the public about complex issues confronting Georgia. We activate Georgians to call for policy solutions that put people first. We aim to inspire informed debate and decision-making, advancing our vision of a fair and inclusive Georgia where everyone can prosper.