Georgia to explore Medicaid changes after GOP health plan’s implosion

Gov. Nathan Deal. Bob Andres/AJC

Gov. Nathan Deal said Monday his administration is exploring changes to Georgia’s Medicaid program after a sweeping Republican overhaul of the Affordable Care Act was scuttled in a stunning rebuke to Donald Trump and Congressional leaders.

The Republican governor said there are limits to what the state can request “as long as mandates under the basic Obamacare legislation stand in place.” But he said the state would review healthcare options that could include changes to “mandated minimum coverage” provisions that require the state Medicaid program to cover a range of health services to recipients.

“Those are areas that some would like for us to explore, and I think we have the possibility of doing that within the context of our Medicaid program,” he said.

“We will be looking at those possibilities,” Deal added. “We have not formulated any proposal at this time, but the waivers will be primarily restricted to our Medicaid program.”

No significant change is expected this year. The governor’s office said later Monday that he would seek legislative approval for major changes to the state’s Medicaid program, and there are no plans for lawmakers to tackle that debate in the final days of the session that wraps up this week.

Georgia lawmakers in 2014 passed legislation that gives the Legislature the final say over any expansion to the Medicaid program. Provisions were slipped into the last three budget plans allowing the state to pursue a specialized Medicaid waiver, but no such authorization was put in this year’s spending law.

“We are exploring a variety of solutions that bring Georgians greater flexibility and access to care,” said Deal spokeswoman Jen Talaber Ryan. “No specific proposals have been decided upon, but he will continue working with members of the General Assembly to evaluate all options.”

Georgia flirted with a wide-ranging waiver in 2015 under President Barack Obama’s administration that would have sought more Medicaid money to help the state’s struggling rural hospitals and its big “safety net” hospitals like Grady Memorial in Atlanta. But the state later quietly abandoned those discussions.

The demise of the GOP healthcare proposal, which collapsed last week among opposition from Republican moderates and conservatives, has revived statehouse talks that Georgia could pursue a new waiver program.


This time, though, state officials would be appealing to a familiar figure: Former Georgia Rep. Tom Price, now Trump’s health secretary.

Although Price doesn’t have the power to transform Medicaid funding into the lump-sum block grants that state leaders have long sought, he has broad discretion to make other changes to healthcare funding that could be more politically acceptable for conservatives.

One of the most common methods is known as a Section 1115 waiver, and several conservative states have already used it to expand the Medicaid program on their own terms. A waiver from Arkansas, for one, let the state use Medicaid funding to allow uninsured residents to buy their own insurance plans.

“We’re exploring all of those possibilities,” Deal said on Monday, without mentioning any specific type of waiver.

Deal and other state leaders did not lament the failure of the GOP plan last week. The governor had repeatedly urged Congress not to “punish” Georgia and other states that refused to expand Medicaid, as the proposal would have rewarded states with more generous Medicaid funding.

Then to placate a growing conservative revolt, the proposal would have restricted Georgia and the 18 other states that haven’t expanded from growing their Medicaid rolls. And Georgia leaders said those changes would have made a dilemma – reopening a debate about expanding Medicaid – even worse.

Reader Comments 11

28 comments
Chris Wright
Chris Wright

Let's sum this up: They just couldn't bare to do it with President Obama for "reasons" we already know with the SAME funds available. But NOW. OH MY GOD. We have time and we want to do it now under Trump I wonder what the reason is? It can't be because Georgians are dying or because we have bottom 5 in the nation on healthcare returns can it?

Johnny Lee
Johnny Lee

thats good i want my tax dollars go to medicade disability foodstamps social security thats a good thing thank you ga

Lorraine Roberts
Lorraine Roberts

Meanwhile, the working poor are still without medical care and continue to suffer and die needlessly.

Ted Wetherby
Ted Wetherby

They realized the revenues coming in from Medicaid is more important than their spite for Obama. Although they are not doing this for the needy they are doing this to save their hospitals from closings

Taryn O McCoy
Taryn O McCoy

This was offered years ago. Don't complain now because Republicans have and always will suck at everything in life.

Susan C. O'Neal
Susan C. O'Neal

Wonderful....our elderly, disabled and children need all the help they can get. Sam's two older brothers disabled since infancy...they live on so little!

Cordelia Ann Sheppard Riley
Cordelia Ann Sheppard Riley

After they went to the trouble of making sure the Governor could not change it only the General Assembly could. Wow!

Debbie Britto Boyd
Debbie Britto Boyd

This could have been done years ago....but NO! Repugs didn't care about the people. They only cared about opposing anything President Obama tried to accomplish. Yes Newt, I'm talking about your fat behind!

Keith Taylor
Keith Taylor

Why does the Govt have to take from one person to buy health insurance for another?

Ray Almeida
Ray Almeida

They are very reactive people. They don't think about it until it's already hit the fan. Look at the infrastructure. And nice storage place of flammables below the I-85 bridge... Some of the worst traffic in the nation too bc they're so short-sighted and don't want to consider the future.

John Woods
John Woods

GOP Health Plan Implosion??? The Bill was pulled and never voted on...So, how could it implode??? What's going to implode is Ovomitcare...

Taryn O McCoy
Taryn O McCoy

Absolutely you can tell because people are actually using it and preventive issues are on the low side.

Sandra Dale Sikes
Sandra Dale Sikes

Guidelines need to be clearly established so that people do not rush to a clinic/doctor unnecessarily. Sick people need help.

Wil Sims
Wil Sims

Just do it and get on with it

Issac Reid
Issac Reid

I'm not reading this right. Georgia wants to help people. Wow. You're right Kelly Anne. Every thing is alternative now. Even the universe

Ted Wetherby
Ted Wetherby

They realized the revenues coming in from Medicaid is more important than their spite for Obama. Although they are not doing this for the needy they are doing this to save their hospitals from closings

Stephanie Macisco
Stephanie Macisco

Move faster! People are suffering. Stop playing politics with people's health.

Becky Fly
Becky Fly

Hospitals are closing. 6 rural hospitals have closed already. I drove through the city of Forsyth not long ago and there were "save our hospital" signs everywhere.

Sheron Hilliker Edge
Sheron Hilliker Edge

I live right outside of Augusta in Grovetown, Ga and we have many hospitals and they are all looking good to me! Most everybody that I know works in the medical field and aren't worried about losing their jobs. I have a friend that lives in New Orleans and what she says their problems are, is a shortage of nurses.

Stephanie Macisco
Stephanie Macisco

Let me tell you about my experience. I just got out of the hospital today. I had to get an emergency microdiscectomy because a ruptured disc was threatening to tear my nerves and destroy my bladder function. I am 30 years old. I'm a student at Georgia State. I have two children. My husband is a personal trainer. He's self-employed. We don't make enough money to qualify for the subsidy on the ACA marketplace, but we would receive the medicaid expansion, if Deal had accepted it, that is. So now we exist in this gray area with two options. We can pay $500 a month, a third of our income, for insurance, or go without. So we went without, because honestly...That's not an option. That's a choice between food and health. We didn't expect me to need emergency back surgery. Now I will await the horrendous bill as I recover. At least I have my health. There are people who suffer far worse in this system. I'll admit the ACA is not perfect. We need to mandate the insurance companies, not the people... but it angers me that Governor Deal would turn away federal funds to help hurting people in this state, just to make a political point.

Teresa Frost
Teresa Frost

Exactly. Get well soon. Let's not forget elections coming up. They need to move fast. Or lose a few seats.

Vance Croft
Vance Croft

Louisiana expanded Medicaid after they elected a Democratic governor.

Don Brewer
Don Brewer

The "collapsing of Obamacare" is brought to you by your Republican friends that you're obviously enamored with.

SamanthaD.Bryant
SamanthaD.Bryant

  my friend's step sister makes 64 an hour on the internet... she has been fired from a job for eight months.. the previous month her check was 16096 just working on the internet for three hours per day.. see this page

www.smart-job5.com

rdamrak
rdamrak

Just like Medicaid we should not take matching funds from the soon to be approved 1 billion dollar federal infrastructure program. Let the other states get the money and we can save all the matching costs.

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  1. […] doing that within the context of our Medicaid program,” he said, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Deal did not specify that he would take up the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, but […]

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  2. […] doing that within the context of our Medicaid program,” he said, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Deal did not specify that he would take up the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, but […]

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  3. […] that within the context of our Medicaid program,” he said, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Deal did not specify that he would take up the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, but […]

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    […] that within the context of our Medicaid program,” he said, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Deal did not specify that he would take up the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, but […]

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  6. […] that within the context of our Medicaid program,” he said, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Deal did not specify that he would take up the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, but […]

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  7. […] doing that within the context of our Medicaid program,” he said, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Deal did not specify that he would take up the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, but […]

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  8. […] doing that within the context of our Medicaid program,” he said, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Deal did not specify that he would take up the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, but […]

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  9. […] Republican governor, Sam Brownback. Another Republican state, Georgia, indicated that it will revisit plans to seek a Medicaid expansion waiver from Health and Human […]

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  10. […] doing that within the context of our Medicaid program,” he said, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Deal did not specify that he would take up the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, but […]

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  11. […] Georgia to explore Medicaid changes after GOP health plan’s implosion […]

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