The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: As thousands of children are kicked off Medicaid, Sen. Ossoff and Rep. McBath want answers

A Wednesday letter signed by the Georgia lawmakers and addressed to Gov. Brian Kemp references months of reporting by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that has revealed persistent issues with the state’s Medicaid enrollment process.

March 15, 2024

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Following months of reporting by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that exposed deep issues with within Georgia’s Medicaid enrollment program, U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff and U.S. Congresswoman Lucy McBath are demanding Gov. Brian Kemp explain why at least 149,000 children have been kicked off the program.

AJC has previously reported that hundreds of thousands of Georgia residents had been kicked off Medicaid as part of year-long “redetermination” process mandated by the federal government. But the Georgia Department of Human Services, which oversees Medicaid workers, reportedly has been understaffed and overwhelmed — despite claims by the DHS that it had hired additional case workers and spent millions of dollars to address the challenges facing the agency.

In practice this has meant that, since recertifying began last April, Georgia had dropped more than 149,000 children from Medicaid as of September. The state had the nation’s third highest number of disenrolled children as of mid-December, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Kemp spokesperson Garrison Douglas also referenced data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that show Georgia, proportionally, ranks much better than other states in the percentage of children who have lost Medicaid coverage.

“Georgia does not place in even the top 10 states with the highest percentage of child Medicaid coverage losses,” Garrison said in a statement.

Federal officials and public advocates believe many children who were dropped from the program still qualify for the coverage, but were dropped in error, most often due to paperwork mistakes made either by their families or by the state. Previous AJC reporting documented a processing system so broken that enrollees are often given instructions that are impossible to follow, or information on a cell phone screen that contradicts what they see on a desktop screen for the same Medicaid account.

“The safety and well-being of children must be one of our highest concerns. It is unacceptable that children and other vulnerable Georgians have lost access to comprehensive health care through no fault of their own,” said the Friday letter, which specifically referenced the AJC”s reporting.

The Democratic lawmakers demanded Gov. Kemp, a Republican, respond to a series questions regarding the state’s efforts to address these problems, including what steps Georgia is taking to work through the redetermination process and what the state is doing to address children’s health in the meantime.

“Given the AJC’s reporting about mismanagement, understaffing, and poor administrative execution, what is the State doing to reach Georgia families whose children lost their insurance and ensure they understand their eligibility status and next steps to get their children reenrolled?” the letter reads.

Kylie Winton, spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Human Services, said the department didn’t have a comment, referring questions to Gov. Kemp’s office.