Medicaid Enrollment Challenge Persist as Georgia Expands Eligibility



Georgia’s new Medicaid program, Georgia Pathways, has seen slow enrollment, with only 1,300 people signed up. The state projected as many as 370,000 may be eligible for the program, which loosens Medicaid eligibility requirements by admitting adults without children who earn less than 100% of the federal poverty line. However, critics argue that Georgia Pathways is a costly experiment, with the state having spent $20 million to launch the program and budgeting an additional $118 million for this year.

Georgia’s New Medicaid Program Sees Slow Enrollment

The partial Medicaid expansion program, Georgia Pathways, has seen a slow start in enrollment, with just 1,343 people signed up by Oct. 13 despite state projections of up to 370,000 eligible participants. The program targets low-income adults, especially those without children earning less than 100% of the federal poverty line.

Georgia Pathways was a significant part of Governor Brian Kemp’s health care policy, initiated in his first year of office in 2019. The Governor’s office estimated an initial enrolment of about 50,000 people.

Despite a slow start, state officials, including Garrison Douglas, Gov. Kemp’s press secretary, remain optimistic about the program’s future. The state has been working to increase awareness of Georgia Pathways, hoping to enrol more individuals in the coming months.

The Medicaid program was permitted under the Trump administration, challenged by the Biden administration, and then ultimately approved following a successful lawsuit by Georgia officials against the federal government.

However, proponents of a full expansion of Medicaid continue to criticize Georgia Pathways. They claim it is a costly experiment that is failing to provide coverage to hundreds of thousands of uninsured Georgians. Comparisons are made with South Dakota’s full expansion, which has yielded about 11,000 enrollments, despite not requiring a work commitment.

Georgia Pathways has been labeled by critics as more expensive than full expansion, covering fewer people, with $20 million spent on the program launch and a budget of an additional $118 million for this year.

However, supporters insist that other data points will indicate the success of Georgia Pathways, emphasizing its role in providing a pathway for able-bodied, low-income individuals to gain health care access.

The new enrollment numbers have sparked renewed calls from Democrats for a full Medicaid expansion in Georgia. Despite initial criticism, supporters of the program remain hopeful that it will prove itself beneficial in the long-term.

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