ATLANTA – State health authorities are asking the federal government for permission to postpone the implementation date of a limited Georgian expansion of Medicaid by at least one month.

In a June 24 letter, community state health commissioner Frank Berry cited a decision in the early weeks of the Biden administration to deny approval of a Georgia Medicaid derogation motion that President Donald Trump’s then administration signed last year would have.

Biden’s Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) rejected the provisions of the proposed Georgia Pathways program that required Medicaid recipients to work, attend school, or volunteer at least 80 hours per month. CMS officials argued that recipients would find it particularly difficult to complete a work request during the pandemic.

Berry contradicted the federal agency’s position in a letter he sent to CMS in March.

“Georgia Pathways offers a wide variety of skills training activities that individuals can participate in,” wrote the commissioner. In addition, there is also a temporary exemption for cause if an individual or immediate family member is hospitalized, has a serious illness, or is quarantined due to exposure to COVID, after enrolling with Medicaid through Georgia Pathways.

“If anything, the COVID-19 crisis makes the qualifying hours and activities – which include work, professional training, education, or volunteering – more important, not less. CMS must enable this program to start as planned and approved. “

With the program scheduled to go into effect on July 1st, Berry’s letter asks for more time while talks between the state and CMS continue.

In early 2019, Governor Brian Kemp introduced the limited Medicaid expansion plan as an alternative to the Affordable Care Act, which then-President Barack Obama steered through a Democratic Congress in 2010. The General Assembly later passed law in 2019 authorizing the governor to submit two waiver requests to federal agencies.

In addition to the Medicaid waiver, a second waiver would replace a private-sector alternative to the Federal Government’s insurance exchange.

CMS is also reviewing this second waiver, which the Trump administration approved last fall. Earlier this month, the agency directed the state to review the data used to justify the new approach, taking into account changes to federal law and policy made since Biden took office.