FACT SHEET: Medicaid Expansion Would Strengthen Georgia’s Rural Health Care

July 28, 2021

Ahead of Anniversary of Medicaid, Case for Expansion in Georgia Clearer Than Ever

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, Georgia’s health outcomes some of the worst in the county,  and the state’s rural health care infrastructure without the resources it needs to stay afloat. 

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.

“Georgia’s rural health care infrastructure is in dire straits – the rural uninsured rate is sky-high, rural hospitals are closing, and rural health outcomes are unacceptable. Medicaid expansion is proven to improve rural health care on all of those fronts,” said Rebecca Galanti, spokesperson for the Democratic Party of Georgia. “With one of the worst rural health situations in the country, Brian Kemp and Georgia Republicans should be doing everything they can to help – instead, they’re dragging their feet on Medicaid expansion and leaving rural Georgians in the dust. Every rural Georgian deserves access to reliable, quality health care, and the rural hospitals they depend on need help to keep their doors open – which is why Democrats will not stop fighting for Medicaid expansion despite Republican inaction.”

FAST FACTS: Medicaid Expansion Would Strengthen Rural Health Care in Georgia 

Rural Georgia Health Care is Crumbling 

  • 26% of rural Georgia adults are uninsured. The uninsured rate among adults in rural Georgia is an astounding 26%, compared to 19% among adults in non-rural areas.
  • Nine rural Georgia hospitals have closed since 2010. In Georgia, nine rural hospitals have closed since 2010 (when Medicaid expansion became available), including two in 2020.
  • Twenty-six rural Georgia hospitals are at risk of closing. Without Medicaid expansion, an additional 26 rural Georgia hospitals are at high risk of closing.
  • Georgia has among the worst rural hospital stability in the nation. More than 41% of Georgia’s rural hospitals are at high financial risk, making Georgia the third worst in the nation for rural hospital stability. 

Medicaid Expansion Would Strengthen Rural Health Care

  • Medicaid expansion would decrease the rural uninsured rate. In states that expanded Medicaid, the uninsured rate for low-income adults dropped from 35 percent to 16 percent in rural areas and small towns.
  • Medicaid expansion would reduce preventable hospitalizations in Georgia. Additional research shows that expansion states saw a reduction in preventable hospitalizations and lower hospital costs compared to non-expansion states like Georgia. Rural hospitals in Medicaid expansion states are 62 percent less likely to close.
  • Medicaid expansion would prevent rural Georgia deaths. Rural hospital closures are associated with a 6% increase in death rates in surrounding counties. Rural hospitals in Medicaid expansion states are 62% less likely to close than in non-expansion states like Georgia. 

Medicaid Expansion Would Be A Lifeline for Georgia’s Rural Hospitals 

  • Medicaid expansion would help rural Georgia hospitals stay open. Rural hospitals in Medicaid expansion states are 62% less likely to close than rural hospitals in non-expansion states like Georgia. Rural Georgia hospitals treat many patients who lack health insurance and cannot pay out-of-pocket, so expanding Medicaid would open up an important revenue stream that would help keep hospitals afloat.
  • Medicaid expansion would increase profit margins of rural Georgia hospitals. Studies show that Medicaid expansion increased profit margins in rural hospitals and safety-net hospitals.
  • Medicaid expansion would lower rural Georgia hospitals’ uncompensated care costs. Medicaid expansion has saved hospitals an average of $6.4 million in uncompensated care costs. Uncompensated care costs comprise 6% of total expenses for hospitals in non-expansion states like Georgia – double the amount for hospitals in expansion states. 
  • Expanding Medicaid would boost rural Georgia’s economy. Closing the coverage gap could create 12,000 jobs and stimulate $1.3 billion in new economic activity annually in rural Georgia communities.

Read more about how Medicaid expansion will increase coverage and improve health outcomes in Georgia.

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