Georgia: Gov. Kemp may be open to *partial* Medicaid expansion, but...

via Greg Bluestein & Ariel Hart of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Gov. Brian Kemp will ask the Georgia Legislature and the federal government for flexibility to improve access to government-funded health insurance for the state’s poor and middle class.

His administration told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Thursday that it will back a measure that seeks two separate federal “waivers” to Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act to tailor new programs to Georgia’s needs.

This sounds potentially promising, but...

...The ACA waiver, which he outlined on the campaign trail, aims to stop premiums on the health insurance exchange market from rising so fast. A second push, which emerged after his election, would raise the possibility of a partial expansion of Medicaid to some of Georgia’s poorest residents.


...Kemp’s aides maintain that he won’t support outright Medicaid expansion, which he opposed on the campaign trail. But they also said he’ll direct a consultant to devise several options, including some that could allow a more limited expansion of the program.

Several states have used waivers to add hundreds of thousands of new residents to their rolls, some proposing conservative elements such as work requirements. Kemp’s advisers said work requirements could be one of the options, but that the governor — who has the final sign-off — wants to see a range of alternatives before he decides.

Setting aside the fact that work requirements are incredibly wasteful, ineffective and cruel, and that Kemp appears to have stolen the gubernatorial race for himself while he was Secretary of State, that last bit about "seeing a range of alternatives" is...surprisingly reasonable (of course, that depends what the other alternatives are...)

...Kemp’s administration has budgeted $1 million to hire a consulting team to investigate the best option, mine statistical and population data, and begin the bureaucratic work of navigating the process with federal decision-makers in Washington.

Of course they could simply expand Medicaid "cleanly" via the ACA and save that million dollars, but that'd be too simple, I suppose...

It will also need to develop proposals that could withstand court scrutiny. Critics of work requirements, for instance, have challenged the policy in federal court. The only judge to rule so far found a work requirement violates the purpose of the Medicaid law, which was to cover the poor.

That effort is not likely to include former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who was a member of Kemp’s transition team. Kemp earlier indicated that Price could help propose the idea to Washington, but his administration said Thursday that Price would not be directly involved in the waiver applications.

Oh yeah, that know, the one who gave up his safe House seat to spend 9 months flying around first class on the taxpayer's dime before becoming so politically toxic that he was somehow too corrupt for the Trump Administration (which is saying a lot). That "safe" House seat, of course, turned out not to be so safe after all, as Lucy McBath flipped it in the 2018 Blue Wave last November.

Unfortunately, the AJC article doesn't give any additional information about the other waiver Kemp is planning on pushing for. All it says is that it "aims to stop premiums on the health insurance exchange market from rising so fast", which could mean literally anything. If he's talking about a robust reinsurance program as a half-dozen other states have implemented, great; I'm all for it. If, however, he's talking about weakening ACA-compliant policy requirements via the Seema Verma's attempt to pervert the 1332 waiver guiderails, then forget it.

Stay tuned...