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Proposed Georgia Medicaid Changes Explained

We have been hearing so much about Georgia's new health plans recently released by Governor Kemp. As advocates, it is important to always make sure our voices are heard, whether we are in favor of or against a particular policy. We also know that Medicaid can be a confusing topic because there are many different Medicaid programs in Georgia. Here at GCDD, we decided it might be helpful to provide a bit of information regarding who might be affected by the new proposals, what the proposals may mean for Georgia, and how we can provide our opinion.

First, when we discuss the new Medicaid waiver proposal from the Governor, we are NOT talking about Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) waivers, such as ICWP and NOW/COMP. Many of our advocates rely on these waivers and/or are on waitlists to receive these waivers. It is critical to understand that eligibility for HCBS waivers is not affected by these new proposals. In addition, the proposed changes to insurance plans ARE NOT changes to the home and community-based services offered through Georgia's HCBS Medicaid waiver.

Governor Kemp's current plans include expanding traditional Medicaid to 100% of the federal poverty limit, meaning some low-income Georgians who currently do not qualify for Medicaid would be eligible. Many believe this is a step in the right direction but are concerned that the current plan will cost Georgians more than we would pay if we expanded to 138%. This is based on outcomes from other states that have made similar proposals. Governor Kemp's plans also include modifying the current requirements of private insurance plans.

So how might people with developmental disabilities be impacted? Our primary concern deals with the proposed changes to private insurance. Although many might believe that people with disabilities only utilize Medicaid for health coverage, the fact is that there are many people with disabilities who work jobs that pay them over the Medicaid eligibility requirements and therefore rely on private insurance to cover their healthcare. Governor's Kemp plans include allowing insurance companies to sell health plans that do not cover essential health services, including mental health care. Given the high likelihood of a secondary mental health diagnosis for people with developmental disabilities, there are concerns that some people with disabilities may not receive the mental health services they need if the current proposal were to be adopted.

What can you do? If you would like to make your voice heard regarding Governor Kemp's proposed healthcare plans and how they will affect you or members of your community, you can comment in person at the final town hall being held this Monday, December 2nd at 7pm at the Philip Rush Center at 1530 DeKalb Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30307.

If you cannot attend in person, you can submit your comments at until Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019.

The original article ran on PublicNow on 11/27/19.