ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia sued the Biden administration on Friday over its decision to revoke approval of a work requirement in the state’s plan to expand Medicaid coverage to more low-income Georgians.
Lawsuit filed in federal court in Brunswick, Georgia, says last month’s decision by the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services was illegal and arbitrary “bait and switch of unprecedented magnitude” . He seeks a court order reinstating the original plan with the work requirement.
“Put simply, the Biden administration is hampering our ability to deliver innovative health care solutions for over 50,000 hard-working Georgia families rather than relying on a broken one-size-fits-all system,” said Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, a Republican, in a press release announcing the lawsuit.
He accused the Democratic president’s administration of playing politics.
Emails to CMS and the US Department of Health and Human Services were not immediately returned.
The work requirement was approved by then-President Donald Trump’s administration, but CMS announced last month that it was revoking approval of that plan and a related Georgia proposal to charging some Medicaid recipients monthly premiums for their health coverage.
“This case is about whether the federal government should keep its promises,” the lawsuit states.
CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said in a letter to the state that the work requirement may be impossible for people to meet during the pandemic, when it was essential that low-income Georgians have access to health insurance. The Kemp administration said at the time that it planned to challenge the decision in court.
Republicans had touted Georgia’s plan as a fiscally responsible alternative to fully expanding Medicaid services under the Affordable Care Act, which 38 states have already done. The plan aimed to add about 50,000 poor, uninsured Georgia residents to Medicaid rolls in its first two years. But to be eligible, new Medicaid recipients would have to commit to a minimum number of qualifying hours through work, job training, education, volunteer work, or other similar activities.
Georgia Democrats say the full expansion would cover hundreds of thousands of people at a much lower cost to the state. That’s because the ACA, President Barack Obama’s health care law, gave states the ability to extend Medicaid to low-income adults who make up to 138% of the federal poverty level, the federal government covering 90% of the cost. More than 10 million people in the United States have obtained coverage this way.
Kemp said a full expansion would cost the state too much money in the long run.
The Biden administration is separately reviewing Georgia’s plan to overhaul how residents purchase health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. That plan — under which Georgia residents would bypass healthcare.gov and purchase federally subsidized health insurance through private agents — was also endorsed by the Trump administration.