The second proposal, focused on private insurance, creates a reinsurance program that uses public funding to help cover some costs associated with people who have high health care expenses. However, it also moves Georgians away from using HealthCare.gov and forces consumers to buy their plans from web brokers or directly from insurance companies. Instead of using a centralized, unbiased platform, Georgians will have to rely on information provided by companies looking to increase profits. This proposal will also not require insurers to cover all the essential health benefits, like maternity care, substance abuse treatment or mental health care — and those who need comprehensive coverage may be forced to pay more.
Together, these two plans will cost the state about $215 million to cover an estimated 80,000 people. Compare that to about $213 million to fully expand Medicaid coverage to at least 490,000 Georgians. After years and millions of taxpayer dollars spent on study committees, task forces and research that all underscore that Georgians need help now, the state designed a plan that costs more to cover only a tiny fraction of those who would be able to access care under full Medicaid expansion.
While these plans are disappointing, they are not finalized. Until Dec. 3, Georgians have an opportunity to tell state leaders to do better via the public comment period. Comments can be shared at a public hearing or online. Right now, submitting a public comment or attending a public hearing is the most important action Georgians can take to ensure a healthier future for our state.
Taifa Smith Butler is executive director at the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute. GBPI is part of the Cover Georgia coalition. Learn more at CoverGa.org.