Georgia Pathways enrollment unclear

(The Center Square) — Georgia authorities are touting a program, saying it will help low-income Georgians qualify for Medicaid.

However, how many people signed up for the Georgia Pathways to Coverage, which launched on July 1, is unclear. The Georgia Department of Community Health, which administers the program, could not provide enrollment numbers, but says they are conducting a thorough review of the incoming data and will provide an update once the data is validated and finalized.

The program provides Medicaid to Georgians ages 19-64 with a household income up to the federal poverty level and who meet the qualifying activities threshold but are not eligible for regular Medicaid.

“The Georgia Pathways program recognizes the thousands of hard-working Georgians who fall through the cracks of traditional Medicaid,” state Rep. Penny Houston, R-Nashville, said in an announcement.

“This innovative approach will be highly beneficial to low-income individuals who are bettering themselves or preparing for the workforce, whether that’s through college, job training programs or community service,” Houston added. “This could also fill a gap for workers who may not receive insurance through their current employer.”

In his State of the State, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, said the state negotiated with the federal government on the program but blamed President Joe Biden’s administration for delaying its launch for more than a year.

At the time, the governor indicated roughly 345,000 Georgians could qualify for the program, which launches as the state reverifies Georgians’ eligibility for Medicaid.

“Certainly, Pathways is going to allow tens of thousands of Georgians who would not otherwise have qualified for Medicaid to do that and to do that in a way that allows the state to experiment with ‘what would Medicaid look like’ if … we [made] some changes, not during a time of crisis, but because we were being intentional about it and we wanted to see if we can improve the program,” Kyle Wingfield, president and CEO of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, told The Center Square.

“I think the real hope and promise of Pathways is that it points us to a better way of administering Medicaid and thinking about it and with some of the structural differences built into it,” Wingfield added. “Maybe it helps point us to a better way of doing the program for more people beyond this demonstration population.”

By T.A. DeFeo | The Center Square contributor

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