Medicaid Waiver Bill Clears State Senate

Feb 27, 2019

The Georgia Senate approved a bill Tuesday that would allow Georgia to seek waivers from Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act.

SB 106, the "Patients First Act," would use $1 million in state funding and a match from the federal government to hire consultants to research options to expand health care access to low and moderate income Georgians.

"[The Patients First Act] is a very simple three-page bill that can do miraculous things for health care and health care costs in Georgia," Sen. Blake Tillery (R-Vidalia) said on the floor.

Gov. Brian Kemp said last week that he wants a Georgia-centric approach to bringing more people into the health care fold and that Medicaid is a broken system that needs fixing.

But Democrats remain opposed to the bill, calling instead for a full expansion of the state's Medicaid program. A fiscal note requested by House Minority Leader Bob Trammell (D-Luthersville) estimates it would cost the state about $150 million to add coverage for close to half a million Georgians.

"Every Georgian should have access to adequate, affordable health care," Sen. Jen Jordan (D-Atlanta) said from the floor Tuesday. "Every Georgian should be able to see a doctor no matter if they are rich or poor." 

Kemp says a full expansion of Medicaid is the only option the consultants will not consider.

The meausre now heads to the state House.