Medicaid gap and rural hospital closures could force legislative pressure.
Medicaid expansion has so far met staunch opposition in Georgia from both Governor Nathan Deal and the legislature, but pressure may mount in 2016, forcing lawmakers to make difficult choices or attempt a compromise.
In the run-up to the 2016 legislative session, which began on Jan. 11, some lawmakers expressed that Medicaid expansion was on their priority list for this year, citing the hundreds of thousands of Georgians in the Medicaid gap as well as the closures of several rural hospitals in 2015.
Gov. Deal has repeatedly said that Georgia cannot afford Medicaid expansion, and the results in other states support his argument. In many states that have approved expansion, both the number of enrollees and the resulting costs have been vastly underestimated, drowning state budgets. For example, according to a July Associated Press report, enrollment in California was three times what was expected, Washington’s was double and Oregon’s was exceeded by 73 percent. Costs in both Michigan and Ohio have doubled.
Medicaid expansion is a 2016 issue to watch.