Articles Posted in Medicaid

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During the period of the public health emergency of COVID-19, states were required to keep individuals on Medicaid rolls without annual reviews.  In May of this year, the Biden administration removed the public health emergency.  Now states have from April 2023 to June 2024 to requalify for Medicaid. This period is referred to as Medicaid Unwinding.   Nationally, 93 million Americans were on Medicaid during the pandemic.   In Georgia 2.7 million adults and children receive Medicaid.

On August 30th, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid alerted state that they may be incorrectly disenrolling participants – mostly children – from Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Two programming errors occurred during this period of unwinding.  First, states evaluated Medicaid eligiblity per household as a whole rather than separately by children and adults.  Second, states that were awaiting replies to questions from one household member would disqualify the whole household.  These procedures violate Medicaid and CHIP regulations.

Georgia is one of ten states that have not fully expanded Medicaid. Georgia began a limited Medicaid expansion in July 2023.  Adults who earn less than $14,600 a year will now clear the income threshold to apply for a Medicaid insurance card.  However, applicants must complete 80 hours of work, job training or qualifying activity each month to keep their coverage.  For those awaiting a decision on Social Security disabilty, they will not be eligible because the work requirements would eliminate disability eligibility.  Georgia is the only state with a work requirement for Medicaid eligiblity.

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Housing, nutrition and healthcare are basic human needs.   Medicaid is a government-funded program that provides healthcare coverage to low-income individuals and families. While it primarily focuses on medical care, Medicaid can also cover other services that are deemed necessary for the well-being of its beneficiaries. Medicaid can pay for medically necessary housing modifications, assistance in rental applications, and assistance in transfering people with disabilities from institutional to community-based homecare.  However, rent or rental deposit assistance is not currently included in Medicaid’s list of covered services.  Some states, such as California, have created Medicaid programs that offer housing-related services to eligible individuals.

Given the current nationwide housing crisis, there are arguments to be made for expanding Medicaid to include housing assistance. Providing temporary housing support could help individuals and families who are struggling to secure and maintain stable housing due to rising costs and limited availability. Medicaid funding could also potentially reduce healthcare costs by addressing health issues that can arise from inadequate or unstable housing conditions, such as respiratory problems or injuries.  Adequate access to housing as a core basic need stabilizes chronic and acute healthcare problems; thereby reducing healthcare spending overall.

However, there are also potential challenges and concerns to consider with this idea. One concern is the funding needed to support such an expansion. Medicaid is already a significant expense for state and federal governments, and adding housing assistance could increase costs even further. There could also be potential issues with determining who is eligible for this assistance and how it would be administered.  Currently, there are increasingly vast unmet housing needs.  Unlike Medicaid, which is available to all those who meet eligibility requirements, housing is not available to all who meet the income requirements for public housing.  There is simply more demand than supply.  Opponents argue that using Medicaid to cure funding gaps in other programs could erode the core mission of providing healthcare to the low income.

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