Georgia sues Biden administration for rejecting Medicaid work requirement

Gov Brian Kemp had imposed a work requirement as part of a partial Medicaid expansion plan.

Updated: January 21, 2022 - 8:13pm

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Georgia has filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration for rejecting the work requirement and premium proposal in Gov. Brian Kemp's partial Medicaid expansion plan.

The plan, called Georgia Pathways, was approved by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in October 2020 under former President Donald Trump.

President Joe Biden's CMS sent a letter to Georgia officials in December, rescinding the selected parts of the plan because they counteract with the objectives of the program.

Georgia officials said CMS' decision was a "bait-and-switch" motivated by politics. They are calling on the court to uphold the previous administration's approval of the plan.

"Simply put, the Biden administration is obstructing our ability to implement innovative healthcare solutions for more than 50,000 hardworking Georgia families rather than rely on a one-size-fits-none broken system," Kemp said Friday in a statement. "They have attempted an unlawful regulatory bait and switch, and it is clear that their decision is not being driven by policy – rather politics – as they attempt to force their top-down agenda on the American people."

The federal government gives states the option to raise the income eligibility requirement for Medicaid to open the program to more participants. States can choose to do a full expansion of the program and raise the income limit to 138% of the federal poverty level – or $17,000 for an individual. Georgia Pathways would extend the Medicaid income eligibility to a maximum of 100% of the federal poverty line – or a little more than $12,000 annually.

Under Pathways, Georgians would have to complete a minimum of 80 hours of work or other activities, such as training or education, each month to qualify for the program. It was supposed to start July 1. CMS warned it had concerns about the work requirement since last February and placed Georgia's implementation of the plan on standby until Georgia could explain why the requirements should stay in place.

Kemp's office said before Biden took office, CMS confirmed Jan. 4. 2021, the Georgia Pathways plan was a binding contract between Georgia and the federal government.

"The Biden administration's misguided actions were not based on the law or sound public policy, but rather crass partisan politics," Attorney General Chris Carr said in a statement. "We look forward to fighting for Georgia's right to provide commonsense healthcare solutions for our citizens."

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