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How to voice opinions in person about possible state changes to health insurance
1221 Health
The Healthcare.gov website is seen on a laptop computer in Washington. - photo by Associated Press

Area residents can air opinions in public hearings set for Monday, Nov. 18, in Gainesville on Georgia federal waiver requests addressing health insurance access and Medicaid changes.

The hearings at the Gainesville Civic Center, 830 Green St., are part of a statewide tour of Georgia cities to gauge public opinion on the waiver requests, which were announced in detail earlier this month by Gov. Brian Kemp as authorized by the legislature earlier this year in the Patients First Act.

Under Kemp’s proposal, uninsured adults in Georgia who make no more than the federal poverty level would qualify for Medicaid assistance if they spent at least 80 hours a month working, volunteering, training or studying. They would also have to pay monthly premiums.

The federal poverty level is just under $12,500 for an individual.

The governor’s office has called the approach a “conservative reform” that reflects the state’s values as a place that “honors work” and “champions individual responsibility.” It would require approval from the Trump administration.

Such an initiative has met legal challenges in other states. In March, a U.S. judge blocked work requirements in Arkansas and Kentucky, ruling the measures undermined the Medicaid program’s mission of providing health care for the needy. 

The health insurance request — referred to as Georgia Access — is for a waiver under the Affordable Care Act, which allows states to seek waivers from the federal government to change certain provisions.

Under this plan, residents seeking insurance through the ACA marketplace wouldn’t have to use the federal portal to enroll. Instead, they could use brokers or buy directly from insurance providers.

“Through this waiver, Georgians will have access to more options which cover pre-existing conditions and ensure optimal coverage at the right price,” the state says.

The Department of Community Health is accepting public comment on the waiver requests through Dec. 3.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Patients First Act

What: Public hearings on waiver requests

When: 9 a.m., Medicaid request; 1 p.m., Affordable Care Act waiver

Where: Gainesville Civic Center, 830 Green St.

More info: medicaid.georgia.gov/patientsfirst

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