Happening Now: Changes in health care for Georgians

In March 2019, Georgia lawmakers approved SB 106, the Patients First Act. The new law allows Georgia to use two kinds of health care waivers to make changes to health coverage in the state. These waiver plans could affect you, your friends, family, neighbors, and Georgians all across the state and the way you access and pay for health care.

(Waivers allow a state to set aside or “waive” certain requirements imposed by the federal government and try new models of providing health coverage and care.)

The state has hired Deloitte as a consultant to work with state leaders to develop the waiver plans. Georgia’s decision-makers have proposed an aggressive timeline and aim to finalize the waiver plans by the end of 2019.

Waiver timeline (Based on current information and subject to change)

Two types of waiver plans

Two types of plans are being developed by state leaders: an 1115 waiver and a 1332 waiver. An 1115 waiver allows Georgia to make changes to the state’s Medicaid program. Medicaid is the state’s health insurance program that covers kids, some low-income parents, seniors, and people with disabilities, and pregnant women. SB 106 limits the 1115 waiver to cover people making up to the poverty line (about $12,000 a year for an individual or $26,000 for a family of four). Medicaid expansion, which GHF has advocated for, would extend public coverage to people with incomes just above the poverty line (138% of the federal poverty line.) A successful way to use an 1115 waiver would be to cover everyone under the poverty line and exclude barriers to coverage such as burdensome paperwork requirements, confusing cost-sharing, or counterproductive lock-out periods.

A 1332 waiver allows the state to make changes to private insurance and the health insurance marketplace. About 450,000 Georgians buy their health coverage through the marketplace. Most of these Georgians receive federal tax credits to cover some or all of their premium costs. (Another 827,600 of Georgians are eligible for private coverage and financial help to buy it but have not yet enrolled.) A successful way to use a 1332 waiver is to establish a “reinsurance program” to reduce premium costs. This waiver should also ensure all plans continue to cover the essential health benefits (like prescription drugs) and maintain protections for people with preexisting conditions.

You can weigh in!

Now is the time to ensure that Georgia gets a plan that will provide comprehensive coverage to as many people as possible. Thousands of Georgians across the state could gain health care coverage through the Patients First proposals. While positive intentions have been expressed by Georgia’s elected officials about the forthcoming waivers, none has yet committed to ensuring all Georgians have a pathway to comprehensive, affordable coverage.

For every 1115 and 1332 waiver that the state wants to pursue, Georgia’s policymakers must seek input from the public. Because there are required state and federal public comment periods for each waiver proposal, there will be at least four public comment periods (a state and federal period for an 1115 waiver and a state and federal period for a 1332 waiver). These are your chances to help shape and influence health care in Georgia!

GHF and our Cover Georgia partners will let you know when the public comment periods begin and end and we will provide an easy way for you to have your say. Make a plan to submit comments during every public comment period so that state leaders know how their ideas will impact you and your family! Your story can help make a difference for thousands of Georgians and can support positive changes in health care coverage.

To learn more, visit coverga.org and download our new Happening Now fact sheet! Follow #CoverGA on FaceBook and Twitter for the most current updates!


100 advocates bring a message about coverage to the Gold Dome

On Tuesday, February 19th, 2013, over 100 advocates, health care consumers, providers and others gathered at the State Capitol to deliver an important message to our elected officials: coverage matters.  Georgia has an unprecedented opportunity to drastically reduce the number of uninsured in our state by accepting the federal dollars and expanding coverage through Medicaid.  With nearly 2 million uninsured Georgians (that’s 1 in 5), it is likely you already know those people who would benefit from expanded coverage–they are your neighbors, your co-workers, and sometimes they are you.


There is still time to do your part: join the Cover Georgia coalition by helping us make the case for expanding coverage.  Pick up the phone and call your legislator and tell them why the decision to expand coverage through Medicaid is so important to Georgians like you.


Here are some key talking points:

  • Expanding Medicaid in Georgia would create 70,343 new jobs and would infuse an additional $8.2 billion per year in economic activity into our state’s economy each year.
  • This economic activity will result in an additional $276 million a year in state and local tax revenue.
  • Money has already been set aside at the federal level to cover 100% of the costs of Georgia’s expansion for the first three years and at least 90% in future years. Should the federal reimbursement levels drop below this level, Georgia can pull out of the expansion at any time.
  • Expanding Medicaid will bring an estimated $40.5 billion in federal funds into Georgia over a decade.
  • Medicaid expansion will free up state dollars that are currently covering programs such as mental health, the Georgia AIDS Drug Assistance Program, the State Hemophilia Program, and indigent care.
  • Hospitals lost $1.5 billion in uncompensated care in 2010. Increasing the number of insured patients by expanding Medicaid will help prevent struggling hospitals from closing and save Georgia taxpayers dollars that currently go toward covering uncompensated care.
  • Medicaid improves access to care, health status, and financial security of enrollees who would likely otherwise be without coverage.
  • Medicaid expansion in other states have reduced mortality, and based on an estimated 650,000 new enrollees, an approximate 3,693 lives could be saved each year in Georgia by expanding coverage through Medicaid.
  • More than 38,000 new health care sector jobs will be created. Other industries such as real estate who can benefit from the hoa management greenville sc, restaurants, transportation, and other businesses will also benefit from more than 30,000 new jobs.
  • Under the current Medicaid program, low-income childless adults and most low-income parents do not qualify for coverage, leaving many working Georgians without access to adequate health care.
  • Georgia has one of the nation’s highest uninsured rates; expanding Medicaid will help cover more than 650,000 people.


To find your legislator’s contact information, click here.  Help us multiply our voice and our presence at the Capitol. Call your legislators now!
photo (2)


Stay Connected

Sign up to receive updates from GHF!
GHF In The News
Nov 10, 2019
EDITORIAL: Kemp health care plans debate is just beginning

Laura Colbert of Georgians for a Healthy Future said the Medicaid waiver plan “will not work for the large majority of low-income people in the state.” She described the waiver…

Peach Pulse Archive