Georgia Democrats Seek to Reverse Radical Republican Obamacare Rollback
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Georgia Democrats Seek to Reverse Radical Republican Obamacare Rollback

Governor Forces People into Private Enrollment System; Work Requirement for Medicaid

Sarah Okeson

Sarah Okeson

Democrats in Georgia’s congressional delegation are asking the Biden administration to undo a Team Trump move to make it more difficult for Georgians to buy health insurance during the Covid pandemic.

Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock and six of the state’s 14 House members asked health Secretary Xavier Becerra to cancel the federal approval of a plan pushed by Radical Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp to cut off access in 2023 to HealthCare.gov. The Georgia plan also imposes work or other requirements to get Medicaid coverage.

“Withdrawing approval for this demonstration is essential to ending the far-reaching efforts your predecessors made to block hundreds of thousands of low-income Georgians from accessing health insurance,” the senators wrote in a letter also signed by Georgia’s Democratic representatives.

About 60,000 people in the state are likely to lose health insurance.

Kemp wants to replace the easy-to-use online marketplace where citizens can buy insurance under the Affordable Care Act with a private enrollment system. About 60,000 people in the state are likely to lose health insurance.

The work requirement for Medicaid recipients would mean that people on Medicaid must work 80 hours a month, volunteer, or be in an education program or other qualifying activity. Federal courts have blocked work requirements in Arkansas, Kentucky and elsewhere.

The scheme, which will affect people shopping for insurance in the fall 2022 enrollment period, was approved by the Trump Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

ACTION BOX / What You Can Do About It

Tell Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra your thoughts about health care coverage. Write to him at U.S. Department of Health and Human Services / Hubert H. Humphrey Building / 200 Independence Ave. SW / Washington, D.C. 20201 or call him at 877-696-6775. He is also on Twitter.

 

In mid-February, Elizabeth Richter, the acting CMS administrator, told Frank Berry, Georgia’s top health official, that work requirements were infeasible during a pandemic. She sent similar letters to Arkansas, Ohio and six other states.

Georgia has the third-highest rate of people without health insurance in our nation. People can only buy insurance through HealthCare.gov if they live in one of the states that use it. Thirteen other states have state-based marketplaces, but Georgia would be relying on private industry.

Georgia officials have said they will challenge any federal efforts to undo their plan.

Critics have said the Georgia plan is illegal because the Affordable Care Act requires state waivers to not result in people losing coverage. The Supreme Court heard arguments in November in a case brought by Republican state officials trying to destroy the Affordable Care Act.

Other states that changed how insurance was sold online for the Affordable Care Act had big drops. Kentucky’s marketplace enrollment fell 13% when it changed to the federal marketplace in 2017 compared to a 4% decline nationally. Nevada’s enrollment fell 7% for the 2020 plan year after it switched to a state-based marketplace, compared with flat enrollment nationally.

April 10, 2021