ATLANTA – Medicaid accounted for the largest share of federal grant funding to Georgia during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, with COVID-19 aid a close second, according to a new study.
The report from The Pew Charitable Trusts found that 37% of the federal grants that went to Georgia during fiscal 2020 were to support the joint state-federal Medicaid program. Another 5% came in the form of other federal aid for health care.
COVID-19 assistance accounted for 31% of Georgia’s federal grants.
More than 40 states had a similar experience, with COVID-19 grants second only to federal Medicaid assistance.
Overall, the report found a 37% increase in federal grants to states during the early months of the pandemic compared to fiscal 2019, the largest jump in federal aid since 2009, when Congress approved a massive stimulus package to jolt the U.S. economy out of the Great Recession.
Georgia and Hawaii were tied for 10th lowest among the states in the share of federal grant dollars going to Medicaid in fiscal 2020. The scale ranged from a low of 12% for Wyoming to 60% for New York and Kentucky, according to the study.
Georgia’s Medicaid program has been a bone of contention between Republicans and Democrats. GOP Gov. Brian Kemp submitted a proposal to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services last year for a limited expansion of Medicaid, which was approved by the Trump administration.
However, the incoming Biden administration put that plan on hold over concerns it would include a work requirement for Medicaid recipients.
Georgia Democrats are calling for a full-blown Medicaid expansion that would cover more low-income Georgians. All but 12 states have fully expanded Medicaid.
The Build Back Better bill now before the U.S. Senate would allow people in states that have not approved a full Medicaid expansion to purchase subsidized coverage. However, opposition from Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is threatening to kill the legislation.
This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.