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COVID-19 pandemic benefit measures to phase out in Georgia

People on Medicaid will have to reapply for benefits starting in July

MACON, Ga. — For three years now, the United States has been under a public health emergency known as the COVID-19 crisis. Now, President Biden has signed legislation to declare the end of the pandemic.

On April 10, the president signed a resolution to end the COVID-19 National Emergency. Those who will see the impact are those on Medicare and Medicaid, and who don't have insurance. 

Nancy White is the executive director of the Macon Volunteer Clinic. They provide services to people in Macon and Twiggs County who are low-income and uninsured. She says the biggest issue their office will see is who will and will not have coverage. 

"Everybody has to recertify for Medicaid. These people that have been on Medicaid, they froze the Medicaid enrollment in 2020 in March, and nobody was allowed to be dropped for the duration of the emergency, and now for the first time, everybody has to recertify that they're eligible," White says. 

The recertification process is through the Georgia Pathways to Coverage Program, which enrolls Georgians into Medicaid. The phase-out process will start on July 1. One of the requirements is 80 hours of work, job training, or community service per month. 

After May 11, federal reimbursements for COVID-19 vaccinations and testing will go away. Medicare and Medicaid will cover immunizations. Without coverage or insurance, the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates a COVID vaccine will cost between $100 and $130 a dose. White said even getting test kits may be different for their office. 

"Piedmont Health here in Macon made available 1,000 to use to provide to us and our volunteers, so when that ends and they're not free anymore, it will be a challenge," White said. 

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, between 5 and 14 million people will lose Medicaid coverage. The CDC has reported 69% of Georgians have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. White hopes people will come to their office if their health coverage changes. 

"We are concerned that many people we certify for Medicaid as a result may find themselves no longer eligible, and so we stand by ready to care for them if they are eligible for our services, which are free if you are," White said. 

Georgia's Health and Human Services department advises Medicaid recipients to update their "Gateway" account with accurate contact information and to check "StayCovered.ga.gov." for important news and resources.

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