Georgia's decision to not expand Medicaid will leave hundreds of thousands without medical coverage, a new study says.
The Kaiser Family Foundation yesterday released a report that found approximately 5.2 million people will remain uninsured in states that refuse to expand their Medicaid programs. And that includes more than 409,000 Georgians.
Kaiser Health News, a nonprofit health-care new organization that's independent from the foundation, says that more than a quarter of uninsured adults in those states will be affected by the policy gap.
Nearly half of the uninsured in the coverage gap live in Texas (1 million), Florida (763,980) and Georgia (409,350) - largely because those states have the most uninsured and limited Medicaid eligibility today.
Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana also will be especially hard hit, with more than a third of their uninsured adults falling into the coverage gap next year, the study shows. These states will feel the pinch because they have higher rates of poor uninsured adults and their existing Medicaid programs have some of the nation's the tightest eligibility rules. Nationally, about 27 percent of uninsured adults in states not expanding Medicaid will find themselves in that gap, the study said.
In June 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the Affordable Care Act that required states to expand Medicaid, leaving the choice up to individual governors. Over the next decade, Georgia would've received $33 billion in federal cash, paying zilch in the first three years and only 10 percent after that. Gov. Nathan Deal opposed the expansion because he felt it was too expensive. Estimated costs for the state have ranged between $2.5 billion and $4 billion.
Behind the MyAJC paywall, Georgia State health-care researcher Bill Custer breaks down the impact the holdout will have throughout the state:
The Kaiser Family Foundation's report is less revelation than confirmation of what experts in the state have predicted. But it underscores that, for a large group in Georgia, Obamacare will have little meaning.
"The problem is that some of these individuals are going to need health care and they are going to continue to wind up in emergency rooms and at physicians' offices with no way to pay for the care that they need," said Bill Custer, a health care expert at Georgia State University.
"That care will continue to be paid for by local taxpayers and by people who do buy health insurance and pay for health care."
Moving forward, Deal has hinted that he might consider Medicaid expansion down the road, especially as states such as Arkansas have explored innovative ways to making the decision more palpable for conservative lawmakers. But until that happens, hundreds of thousands of Georgians will remain uninsured.
We've embedded The Kaiser Family Foundation's full study after the jump.
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