FACT SHEET: Medicaid Expansion Would Drastically Improve Health Outcomes in Georgia

July 27, 2021

On Friday, July 30, the one in five Georgians who rely on Medicaid will celebrate the 56th anniversary of the landmark program, which provides health coverage to low-income adults and children. But Georgia Republicans’ continued refusal to expand Medicaid has left hundreds of thousands of Georgians uninsured and without access to quality, affordable health care, contributing to Georgia having some of the worst health outcomes in the country. 

Medicaid expansion is more popular than ever, with a majority of Georgians supporting it. It is also fiscally sound – if Georgia were to expand Medicaid now, the state would receive enough federal funds to cover the cost of Medicaid expansion and then some.

Amid Georgia Republicans’ refusal to do the right thing, Democrats in Congress — led by Senators Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock and Representatives Carolyn Bourdeaux, Lucy McBath, and Nikema Williams — have introduced legislation to create a federal pathway for Medicaid expansion that bypasses Kemp’s inaction.

“Study after study shows that Medicaid expansion saves lives, plain and simple. Georgians need reliable, quality health coverage to stay well, but so many in our state continue to go uncovered because of Brian Kemp and Georgia Republicans’ stubborn refusal to expand Medicaid,” said Rebecca Galanti, spokesperson for the Democratic Party of Georgia. “Georgians deserve leaders doing everything they can to increase access to care and improve health outcomes in our state – not politicians like Brian Kemp, who is ignoring the overwhelming majority of health experts and refusing to expand a program proven to prevent deaths and improve health. The science is clear: Kemp and Republicans’ failure to expand Medicaid is not only disgraceful – it’s inhumane.”

FAST FACTS: Medicaid Expansion Would Improve Health Outcomes in Georgia

Georgia Has Some of the Country’s Worst Health Outcomes Without Medicaid Expansion

  • Georgia’s maternal mortality rate is more than twice the national rate. Georgia has the second-highest mortality rate in the country, and at least 79 of Georgia’s 159 counties do not have an OB-GYN. Georgia’s abysmal maternal health disproportionately affects women of color – Black mothers are almost twice as likely to die than white mothers in Georgia.
  • Georgia has some of the highest infant mortality rates in the country. Local health policy experts have called Georgia’s infant mortality and maternal mortality rates “unacceptably high.”
  • Georgia has poorer health outcomes for common medical issues. Georgia has higher levels compared to other states and “some of the worst health outcomes” when it comes to medical issues like diabetes, strokes, and heart disease.

Medicaid Expansion Would Improves Georgians’ Health

Medicaid Expansion Would Prevent Premature Deaths

  • Georgia’s failure to expand Medicaid has cost 1,336 lives. The state’s decision not to expand Medicaid cost the lives of 1,336 Georgians aged 55-64 from 2014 to 2017 alone. Meanwhile, in expansion states, Medicaid expansion has saved the lives of 19,200 older adults aged 55 to 64 between 2014 and 2017. 
  • Medicaid expansion has saved thousands from fatal opioid overdoses. As many as 8,132 people in expansion states were saved from fatal opioid overdoses as a direct result of Medicaid expansion.
  • Medicaid expansion has reduced mortality in non-elderly adults by nearly 4 percent. Research has found that Medicaid expansion reduced mortality in people aged 20 to 64 by 3.6%.
  • Medicaid expansion has helped prevent cancer- and heart-related deaths. A study tied to the American Heart Association found that Medicaid expansion was tied to fewer heart-related deaths. And between 1999 and 2017, cancer deaths dropped more in states that expanded Medicaid than in states that rejected expansion.
  • Medicaid expansion has reduced infant and maternal mortality. Medicaid expansion has been shown to reduce maternal mortality rates, while modern gains made in reducing infant mortality are more than 50% greater in states that expanded Medicaid, compared to those that have not.

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