More than 500,000 Georgians could begin to lose health coverage by spring if pandemic-era Medicaid relief ends

Hundreds of thousands of Georgians who bought health insurance through Medicaid during the pandemic could start losing their insurance next spring under the federal spending bill announced this week.

congress offer It will end the pandemic-era rule that requires states to continue to cover Medicaid enrollees even if they no longer qualify under a state’s eligibility rules. The requirement was incorporated into federal coronavirus legislation passed in March 2020.

Under the terms $1.7 trillion spending packageMillions of people could lose coverage nationally, including about 545,000 Georgians, according to a state estimate, under a process that could begin April 1 if Congress passes the federal spending bill.

A group of Republican governors, including Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, appointed President Joe Biden. a letter This week it’s asking states not to renew their public health emergency statement after April so they can start reducing their inflated Medicaid lists, citing costs.

The governors’ defense was made even as states continue to grapple with the “triple epidemic” of rising cases of COVID-19, flu and RSV that threatens to overwhelm hospitals this winter.

“Although the virus will be with us for a while, the emergency phase of the pandemic is behind us,” 25 governors wrote in a letter to Biden on December 19. “We’ve come a long way since the start of the pandemic – now we have the necessary tools and information to help protect our communities from COVID-19.”

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The declaration of the state of emergency is scheduled to expire on January 15, but the Biden administration is expected to extend this period again and continue until at least April. But the proposed spending bill would separate the so-called Medicaid settlement process from the federal emergency declaration.

Medicaid enrollment in Georgia increased from about 1.8 million before the pandemic to about 2.6 million people.

That increase came with extra federal funding that helped state budget writers navigate the public health crisis and provided Georgia with nearly $2.2 billion in financial aid—or more than double what the state spent on additional enrollees.by an analysis From the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The government closed last fiscal year with a surplus of $6.6 billion, and revenues for the first five months of the new budget year were up 6.2 percent — or $741.7 million — compared to this time last year.

But even with federal support, GOP leaders argue that the rule costs the states “hundreds of millions of dollars.”

According to the letter, “PHE is negatively impacting states primarily by artificially increasing our Medicaid-covered populations (both traditional and expanded populations) regardless of whether individuals continue to be eligible under the program.”

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He said there won’t be a clear picture of the cost until states go through the process of identifying those ineligible for coverage, for example because they’re aged out of the program or their income levels change. Kemp spokesman Andrew Isenhour.

Regardless, Isenhour said the state has spent about $37.5 billion on benefits for Medicaid enrollees since the start of the pandemic.

Under the proposed omnibus, enhanced federal matching for states will be phased out over the next year and will also require one year of continuous coverage for children in low-income households.

‘life buoy’

Healthcare advocates urge Georgian authorities to act with caution as this important epidemic-era rule that guarantees healthcare coverage for a broad Georgian population comes to an end.

Leah Chan, senior health analyst at the Georgia Institute of Budget and Policy, says the policy has been successful.

“In a time of both health and economic uncertainty, this policy has enabled nearly three million Georgians to depend on affordable health insurance and has brought financial relief to our state,” Chan said.

He said it’s important for the feds to set a date for Medicaid relaxation to begin—as suggested in the multi-purpose book—so that state officials, Medicaid-administered care organizations, community leaders, and others can be prepared.

“But we can’t go back to our pre-pandemic status quo, where Georgia had one of the highest uninsured rates in the country,” Chan said. “During the Medicaid relaxation planning process, we have a unique opportunity to adapt what works well and build on the success of this policy so Georgia’s families stay safe.”

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Laura Colbert, executive director of Georgians for a Healthy Future, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization, described Medicaid as “a lifesaver” for people and states during the pandemic.

“Continuous coverage protections have allowed Georgia children, pregnant and new parents, and others to be covered, remain insured, and cost-effectively access healthcare amid a very unpredictable pandemic,” he said.

Saying that federal and state investment in Medicaid must match reality in the field, Colbert pointed to the triple epidemic and low vaccination rates for COVID-19 and flu.

“State and federal leaders must consider these ongoing challenges and adjust Medicaid funding and protections accordingly,” Colbert said. “As a state with the highest uninsured rates for children and adults, I caution against rushing towards the end of PHE, which will end Medicaid’s continued coverage protections.

“As a result, we expect 245,000 to 545,000 Georgians to remain without temporary or long-term insurance. “More than half of the newly uninsured will be children.”

Meanwhile, government agencies encourage Georgians with Medicaid coverage to update their contact information. gateway account.

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