Georgia moves forward with plan to implement work requirements for Medicaid coverage

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (R) announced that the state will begin a work-for-Medicaid program, called Georgia Pathways, in July 2023. The program will require low-income individuals to complete 80 hours of work or volunteering in order to qualify for Medicaid coverage. 

The program was first proposed and approved during the Trump administration, along with several other states that received approval to establish work requirements for Medicaid coverage. The Biden administration revoked approval of all state work requirements for Medicaid in 2021. Georgia sued the federal government, arguing that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) did not have the constitutional authority to block the program. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia ruled in favor of Georgia on August 19, 2022, which authorized the state to move forward with the implementation of the program. The Biden administration has not appealed the district court’s decision as of November 22, 2022.   

Proponents argue that the program will aid in expanding Medicaid by making individuals who meet the work requirements eligible for coverage. Andrew Isenhour, a spokesperson for the governor, said, “It is important to note that we are only adding people to the Medicaid rolls with this program. Georgia Pathways will expand Medicaid to otherwise ineligible Georgians who satisfy the work, job training, education or volunteer requirements,” according to Clayton News Daily

Opponents of the program argue that the work requirement will create barriers for people who are low-income. The executive director of Georgians for a Healthy Future, Laura Colbert, said, “Full-time caregivers, people with mental health conditions or substance use disorders, and people unable to work but who have not yet qualified for disability coverage would find it hard to qualify,” according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.