1.7 million people in Georgia received Medicaid coverage as of April this year—and the majority of them are children. That’s 17 percent of the state’s population, or nearly one in five people. Georgia spent less in Medicaid expenditures on each enrollee than the national average—$3,916 versus the $5,563 spent nationally. Because of this, under the Senate-proposed healthcare bill, Georgia likely would have received a lower per capita amount than states that expanded Medicaid or spent more per person.
If the fallout from Congress’ not-yet-determined decision on health care results in cuts to Medicaid, how will the state decide who can’t receive that assistance?
Will it be the 69-year-old intellectually and physically disabled woman who is only able to remain in her home by receiving home and community-based services provided with Medicaid funds? Without those services this woman, whose case is like so many of the clients I represent, would be required to live in a nursing home, which she could not afford on her $760 Social Security retirement income.
Or will the state deny someone like 65-year-old Mr. Jones, who was recently approved for Nursing Home Medicaid, when his dementia makes him unable to live safely independently in the community? Mr. Jones draws Social Security benefits of $1,023 per month and pays $973 per month to the nursing home–leaving him $50 to pay for essentials not provided by the facility. Medicaid pays approximately $4,300 per month for his care.
Or perhaps a five-year-old severely disabled child will be denied the Medicaid assistance that allows her to receive nursing services in her home while her parents work? Shall the parents stop working to provide for the child’s round-the-clock care, or should the child be placed in an institution?
These examples all represent cases that have been handled by Georgia Legal Services Program in the past and likely will be in the future. They represent the very difficult choices that Georgia will have to make in the coming years if significant cuts to Medicaid are made.