Georgia looks to revamp Medicaid amid uncertainty

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Georgia is planning to overhaul its Medicaid program over the next couple of years even as federal health care reform remains uncertain.

Georgia is looking to revamp its $7.8 billion Medicaid program that covers nearly one in five people in the state – 1.7 million overall – even with the uncertainty around the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Provisions of that federal reform were challenged in court and are pending review by the U.S. Supreme Court this year.

The presidential and congressional elections in November could also signal changes as Republicans have vowed to overturn it or at least defund it. Even with all of that, the state is trying to move forward, said Commissioner David Cook of the Georgia Department of Community Health, which administers the state’s Medicaid program.

“I think we’re going to be in an
uncertain time for a significant amount of time, for some years to come, but we also wanted to plan for that,” he said. “We wanted to plan for and to make sure we’re doing the very best job we can to have the best Medicaid program right now and going into the future even given these uncertainties.”

For instance, the reforms would significantly increase Medicaid eligibility beginning in January 2014, when Georgia hopes to implement its new Medicaid program, that would eventually add about 650,000 new enrollees, about a 40 percent increase, Cook said. Whether or not that happens, and the fiscal impact despite initial federal funding of it, is one reason the state is looking for a “scalable” solution, Cook said.

“We wanted to look at a program that would be nimble enough to accommodate the future here,” he said.

Among the options Georgia is considering is keeping its Georgia Families managed Medicaid program but expand it to others on Medicaid not currently under it, the aged, blind and disabled, to another option where some Medicaid enrollees would be purchasing their own health insurance. The idea is to set incentives and rules to find the “sweet spot in providing the appropriate level of care for good care,” said Deputy Commissioner Blake Fulenwider.

Some options, such as putting the Medicaid enrollees under more of a “commercial” managed care model with things like co-pays, would require a waiver from federal rules for certain Medicaid populations. But that has already been discussed with the regional staff of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said Medicaid Chief Jerry Dubberly.

“They have been very generous in offering their support with any of the options we may choose to pursue,” he said.

The state hopes by April or May to have a recommended model and to put out a request for proposals in the summer, with an eye toward implementing the new system in January 2013 and launching in January 2014. In addition to the Medicaid expansion, January 2014 is also when about a dozen major provisions of the Affordable Care Act kick in, such as the launching of the state-level Health Insurance Exchanges and the individual mandate to buy health insurance.

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Riverman1
82181
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Riverman1 02/02/12 - 07:40 am
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We pay the medical bills for

We pay the medical bills for 20% of Georgians. We pay for reduced lunches for 60% of Georgia students. I've got to keep working to pay the bills for all these people. If effect, I've adopted some more family members. I'm going to shrug one of these days.

allhans
23523
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allhans 02/02/12 - 08:56 am
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Good deal! Revamping should

Good deal! Revamping should also be done on some other state programs.. Clean them up, get rid of the dead wood.

seenitB4
85288
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seenitB4 02/02/12 - 08:55 am
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Get the dang jobs back in the

Get the dang jobs back in the USA & drop some of the freeloaders ...how STUPID can one government be...I mean STUPID..

We push college like that is what all must do....some CAN NOT & WILL NEVER be college material.....Bring a factory back to the neighborhood--give them a hands on job-----stop pretending you are helping the poor when you are not..

seenitB4
85288
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seenitB4 02/02/12 - 08:59 am
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The college degree has been

The college degree has been watered down now .......give me a smart plumber--carpenter----welder----landscaper---& I know HOW MUCH a builder makes....

charlesaiken
16
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charlesaiken 02/02/12 - 09:00 am
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You folks need to recall the

You folks need to recall the governor they can't be cuting the handouts.

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