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Gov. Kemp, state officials announce changes to Georgia health insurance

The governor was joined by several other state officials.

ATLANTA — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced federal approval of the state's program to provide a waiver for those seeking health insurance.

The program, referred to by the governor as Georgia Pathways and Access, would provide, "more affordable insurance" for millions of Georgia families, that he said otherwise could not afford insurance under the current insurance program.

As a result, the state will offer federally subsidized health insurance to Georgians only through private brokers. 

A separate measure will offer Medicaid to some of the state's poorest able-bodied adults on the condition that they work, volunteer, receive job-training or attend school.

Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma was on hand with the governor to laud the move by Kemp, who signed the measure. First Lady Marty Kemp and other state and federal officials were also on hand at the state capitol for the ceremony. 

Verma said that she was happy, on behalf of the Trump Administration, to approve the state's waiver request.

Verma said that the Trump Administration was looking forward to an expansion of the state's program which they said would, "leverage the private sector and reduce premiums" for thousands of Georgia residents who can not currently afford insurance.

"Some will try to weaponize the legal system," Verma said, in an effort to circumvent the program. 

But, she said, the Trump Administration would work to ensure that the program and others like it around the nation move forward to help citizens currently "burdened by the ACA and its dependence on government-based insurance."

Kemp said that the Georgia Pathways program will go live on July 1, 2021, with reinsurance becoming effective with the following plan year, in January 2022. Finally, Georgia Access would go live in January 2023. 

However, critics of Kemp's waiver plan said the proposal would actually reduce the number of people who could get health insurance.

A report from the Brookings insitute said the proposal would eliminate ACA exchanges as a potential source of health insurance – which the state said would add 33,000 new consumers of health insurance. Kemp’s office described it as “an innovative approach to improving choice in the healthcare marketplace and lowering premium costs."

But Brookings said “nothing in the application creates new incentives that could plausibly bring in new (health insurance) business.”

RELATED: State pitch to eliminate HealthCare.gov website rooted in money

Brookings described the reasoning behind the state’s ACA waiver application as “nonsensical, and predicted the federal government will reject Georgia’s newest waiver application. That apparently was not the case with the waiver approval from the Trump Administration.