Second, with increased demand on Medicaid during this crisis, Georgia should fully implement the Families First Coronavirus Act and draw all potential funding for our existing Medicaid program. The nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities recommends ceasing redeterminations, stopping the use of periodic income checks, and ceasing implementations of restrictive waivers. The Center also suggests streamlining mechanisms for new enrollees such as maximizing use of presumptive eligibility.
Third, Georgia’s Congressional delegation should push for additional federal legislation designed to fill gaps that will provide additional life-saving healthcare options for Georgia’s most vulnerable. If the Trump administration does not reopen Obamacare enrollment, large numbers of Georgians will remain or become uninsured at the very moment when healthcare can mean life or death. The National Council of State Legislatures has published an analysis of the CARES Act, estimating that Georgia is entitled to receive $4 billion to address healthcare impacts of the virus under the stimulus package. However, there are gaps that need to be addressed, many of which are in the Taking Responsibility for Workers and Families Act introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. These include increasing the federal contribution to expanded Medicare from 90% to 100% until the economy improves, expanding Medicaid eligibility, and making it easier for people who lose employer-provided insurance to get other insurance.
Not only are the short-term consequences of our prior decision to refuse expanded Medicaid affecting us in this emergency, the long-term consequences will continue to mount if we do not act. With low tax rates and the economy in a precarious and uncertain position, Georgia can no longer afford to leave federal dollars on the table. On behalf of my constituents and every Georgian, I ask Gov. Brian Kemp, House Speaker David Ralston, and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan to use every existing and newly available lever to increase medical coverage to save lives, including taking expanded Medicaid federal dollars. And, please do so immediately.
State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur.