Study Needed to Determine Whether Medicaid Expansion Could Save Georgia Money

The debate over whether to expand Medicaid coverage in Georgia has been going on for as long as the option, available as part of the Affordable Care Act, has been available. For the most part, the reaction by GOP lawmakers at the Gold Dome has been negative, from Governor Deal, who said adding the option would inflate the state budget, to legislators, who took the decision about expansion out of the governor’s hands. However, recent statements in support of expanding the program by Senate Health and Human Services chair Renee Unterman has brought the issue back to the front burner.

As outlined by Andy Miller in a Georgia Health News story, many states have been able to save money by expanding the program. They have done it by transferring taking patients cared for under state programs and transferring them to Medicaid. That model could be used here in Georgia:

In Georgia, much of the savings would come from adult mental health and substance abuse funding, experts say.

That’s now dominated by state dollars. The state budget for adult mental health services is more than $350 million for this fiscal year.

Many of those patients are have low incomes and are currently uninsured, and would qualify for the new coverage, experts say.

Different think tanks have different opinions. Tim Sweeney, who is the former director of health policy for the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute thinks there could be at least $100 million in annual savings. Kelly McCutchen of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation points that the expanded Medicaid program still pays less than the cost of providing services.

No formal study has been conducted in Georgia to determine how Medicaid expansion would affect the state’s budget. Such a study could inform lawmakers trying to decide how to deal with the many issues surrounding the provision of healthcare in both urban and rural areas of the state.

Meanwhile, Peach State taxpayers continue to fund the program’s expansion in other states.

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Dave BearsePMgcpNoway2016John Konop Recent comment authors
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John Konop
John Konop

This is just another proposal of moving the deck chairs on a sinking ship. The real issue is we must reform the system ASAP or it will run out of money.

1) Use VA drug prices 60 percent less

2) Require living Wills

3) Increase tele-medicine

4) Reform elective coverage products sold on TV every night….

Unless we have a real conversation on the cost side the system will look like the titanic soon.


Glad to see you back!


Yes, putting the federal government further into debt to “save” states money makes no sense. Of course it should also be noted that Sen. Unterman is employed by a large Medicaid provider.


John is right.
In 2012 the Economist at Georgia State reported to the House the added cost of Medicaid expansion was prohibitively expensive – I do not recall the exact added cost reported by the Economist, but the cost was over $350 million per year.

This is not close to being a new subject, what is the latest cost projection to expand Medicaid from the economist paid by the State to calculate the costs?

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

A 1.6% increase in the state’s $22.3B budget is prohibitively expensive?

Ought to be cinch to come up with that amount, given the prevalence of government waste and fraud that has been the GOP mantra for two decades.