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Georgia's alternative to Medicaid expansion goes into effect

Gov. Brian Kemp
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp made the Georgia Pathways program a key part of his legislative agenda

Georgia’s new plan for expanding Medicaid coverage has taken effect.

The Georgia Pathways program is a more limited expansion of Medicaid than its federal counterpart. Georgia residents between the ages of 19 and 64 with household incomes up to 100% of the Federal Poverty Level will be eligible for Medicaid coverage. The program will not apply to low-income elderly Georgians or the disabled which are covered under other plans.

Recipients of Georgia Pathways coverage also must participate in at least 80 hours per month of “qualifying” activities, including work but also education, job training, or community service.

Democrats in the General Assembly and health-care advocates say the state is missing an opportunity both to save taxpayer dollars and serve more low-income Georgians by not adopting a full-blown expansion of Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, as 40 other states have done.

The state estimates about 345,000 Georgians will potentially be eligible to enroll in Georgia Pathways.