About Medicaid Expansion
Medicaid expansion could provide affordable health coverage to 473,000 Georgians, but state leaders have repeatedly refused resources intended to pay for coverage. Across the country, millions of people have gained health insurance from the expansion of Medicaid offered under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA extends Medicaid eligibility to nearly all low-income individuals earning below 138 percent of the poverty line ($28,676 for a family of three in 2018) and offers a nine-to-one federal funding match to pay for coverage. The majority of people who could be covered by expanding Medicaid are working but often not offered health benefits through their job.
Most of the country has already taken action to expand Medicaid, but 17 states—including Georgia—have so far refused. Each year state leaders block expansion, Georgia loses out on $3 billion in federal funding for health coverage, resources that could put an insurance card in the pockets of almost half a million Georgians. While state leaders reject federal funds, seven rural hospitals have closed in Georgia since 2013, crippling local economies. Many Georgia hospitals are struggling because they treat so many patients who lack health insurance and can’t afford high out-of-pocket costs. More than half of Georgia’s remaining rural hospitals are financially vulnerable to closure.
The problem isn’t going away. Georgia’s uninsured rate of 12.9 percent is fifth worst in the country. In rural Georgia, the uninsured rate could climb to more than 25 percent by 2026.
Medicaid Expansion Would Help Communities Across Georgia
Expanded health coverage would benefit communities across the state.
- Closing the coverage gap can significantly strengthen behavioral health treatment and services in Georgia. About 25 percent of uninsured Georgians who would qualify for Medicaid expansion coverage suffer from mental illness or substance abuse.
- Opioid abuse and unmet mental health needs are decimating communities statewide, exacerbated by high uninsured rates among working Georgians who simply can’t afford access to care. States that closed their coverage gap expanded treatment services to more people with mental illness or substance use disorders.
- Closing Georgia’s coverage gap and expanding Medicaid would extend health insurance to more than 155,000 uninsured women in Georgia. Georgia ranks among the bottom five states for women’s health insurance coverage.
- Closing the coverage gap could extend health insurance to nearly half of Georgia’s uninsured veterans, expanding coverage to 32,000 uninsured veterans and military spouses in our state.
What’s the Coverage Gap
Of the 473,000 Georgians that Medicaid expansion could cover, about 240,000 make too little to get financial help to buy health insurance on the Marketplace and don’t currently qualify for Medicaid. These Georgians are stuck in the “coverage gap” with no affordable insurance options because state leaders have turned down federal tax dollars set aside to pay for coverage. Georgians in the coverage gap earn less than the federal poverty line, about $16,500 for a family of two or $20,800 for a family of three
Our elected officials have the power to solve these problems. Georgia lawmakers can support struggling rural hospitals, help address the opioid crisis and provide health care access to 470,000 Georgians by expanding Medicaid. Sign the petition today to show your support for expanding Medicaid eligibility in Georgia.
To learn more about the Cover Georgia Coalition, click here.