ATLANTA — Georgia officials are urging recipients of Medicaid and PeachCare for Kids health coverage to update their contact information in anticipation of eventual eligibility changes.
The Georgia Department of Human Services website notes that under federal COVID-19 response legislation, Medicaid coverage was guaranteed to continue - even for people whose eligibility changed - through the duration of the national public health emergency.
That public health emergency has continued to be extended since the onset of the pandemic, 90 days at a time, and will remain in place at least through January 15 after President Joe Biden last extended it in October.
The Biden administration however has reportedly been telling healthcare providers to begin preparing for an end to the public health emergency declaration. And the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has issued guidance to states to prepare for the public health emergency ending, as well.
For an outline of Georgia's plan to unwind Medicaid eligibility under the national public health emergency, go to the bottom of this article
Officials in Georgia are, in turn, asking people to prepare for the possibility of their eligibility status changing.
They point to the staycovered.ga.gov website as a first step for understanding the implications of changes in federal Medicaid policy. According to DHS guidance, the state will begin to redetermine eligibility for the 2.6 million people in Georgia on Medicaid on Feb. 1, if the public health emergency isn't again extended.
The state notes that if someone on Medicaid is still eligible, their coverage will be renewed. DHS materials say those who are found no longer to be eligible will be removed from Medicaid but may qualify for other programs.
"At the end of the COVID-19 federal public health emergency (PHE), Georgia is required to begin reviewing eligibility for Medicaid and PeachCare for Kids members. For many of the 2.6 million Georgians who have Medicaid or PeachCare for Kids coverage, this will be their first time going through the redetermination process," a release issued by the Department of Human Services on Thursday said.
The release added DHS and the Department of Community Health are "stressing the importance of all Medicaid members acting now to continue receiving important alerts and resources about their Medicaid coverage."
The state offers three ways for people to update their information:
- Online at Georgia DHS’ benefits website: gateway.ga.gov
- In person at their local DFCS office, by appointment only: dfcs.georgia.gov/locations
- By phone at 1-877-GA-DHS-GO or 711 for the hearing-impaired
The state advises that the best way to receive updates about about coverage is to do so through email. The DHS release noted though the agency would continue communicating with recipients through physical mail if that's their preference.
For those wishing to get updates through email, the state offers this guidance:
You have the option to choose how you would like to receive notifications. Select “email” to get convenient updates online. More instructions are here.
If you select “email”, please enter the primary email address where you regularly access your email online to receive timely notifications. Note: If your immediate family members/children are covered by Medicaid and have an account on Georgia Gateway, please make sure you list the same primary email address for each member of your family.
“The most important step Medicaid and PeachCare for Kids members can take is to make sure their contact information is up to date,” DHS Commissioner Candice Broce said in a statement. “The fastest way to stay informed about their eligibility status is to update their information on the Georgia Gateway website and opt in to email communications.”
The looming changes to federal Medicaid policy come as Georgia has recently won a long political and legal battle to add a work requirement to Medicaid eligibility for expansion. While the work requirement would apply to new Medicaid recipients under Gov. Brian Kemp's expansion program, it's unclear if it would also extend to people who have already been on Medicaid.