Georgians flock to enroll in affordable health care plans amid divide on Medicaid expansion

(Credit: Maudib)

Mar 22, 2024

While Georgia lawmakers continue to reject Medicaid expansion in the state, Biden-Harris administration officials on Thursday touted record enrollment in health care plans through the Affordable Care Act across the country and in Georgia.

In fact, enrollment in these plans has skyrocketed over the years, said Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Some of the plans through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, have provided affordable coverage for Georgia residents struggling to find low-cost health services.

Overall, 1.3 million Georgians have enrolled in plans through the ACA's Health Insurance Marketplace, according to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

That’s “a significant increase” compared to last year, when the state saw about 879,000 people enrolled, Brooks-LaSure said during a virtual news conference Thursday. An estimated 45 million people nationwide are enrolled in health coverage through ACA, a White House spokesperson said in an email.

Georgia remains one of 10 states that have opted not to extend Medicaid to more low-income residents. Still, Medicaid expansion has gained some traction among GOP members during the 2024 legislative session.

Medicaid is a joint federal and state health care program that connects people with limited income with access to necessary medical services. In Georgia, the federal government pays 60% and the state pays 40% of the cost for most Medicaid-funded services.

“Georgia for the last couple of years has had record enrollment [in ACA plans]. And I would credit that to the efforts that we [in the Biden-Harris administration] have made in terms of outreach,” Brooks-LaSure said during the news conference.

“We have worked very hard over the last couple of years to do more outreach with trusted partners. And we also, thanks to the Biden-Harris administration, have been able to make coverage more affordable,” she said. “The administration has made a tremendous effort … to increase awareness and increase affordability.”

Families have secured some health care plans for as low as $10 a month, she added. Officials credited the Navigator Program, advertising campaigns and other outreach efforts to help more Georgians find coverage they can afford.

“We've put over 100 million into our Navigator Pogram each of the last two years,” Brooks-LaSure said. “But it's also our advertising dollars [and]”

Based on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ federal Navigator Program, Georgia’s Access Navigator Program involves partnerships with community organizations to reach uninsured residents across the state. 

Asked whether the Biden administration has pushed Georgia lawmakers to expand Medicaid in the state, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said the president has included in his proposed budget “Medicaid-like” programs targeting states that haven’t adopted full Medicaid expansion.

“The great thing about the president's proposals [is] that he continues to move to expand care,” Becerra said. “His budget proposal actually calls for providing Medicaid-like coverage to Americans who live in the 10 remaining states that have chosen not to expand coverage for their people.”

“If the president's plan was to take effect, we would have an additional, I believe, about 3.5 million Americans who would qualify for access to health care as a result of expanded Medicaid,” Becerra said. “And so the president is intent on making sure everyone has access. And while 40 states have seen the wisdom of providing health care coverage and peace of mind to their residents, for those 10 states that haven't acted, the president is not willing to wait.”

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Issac Morgan is the newsletter editor for State Affairs. You can contact him on or at [email protected].

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