Georgia's Kemp signs bill authorizing Medicaid waiver

Gov. Brian Kemp on Wednesday signed the "Patients First Act," authorizing the state to pursue a Medicaid waiver. (Image via Gov. Kemp's Twitter feed).

Georgia's Republican governor has signed legislation giving his office wide leeway to reshape the state's health care system.

Gov. Brian Kemp on Wednesday signed the "Patients First Act," authorizing the state to pursue a Medicaid waiver.

If approved, a waiver could give Georgia the flexibility to expand Medicaid more conservatively than federal rules typically allow. The legislation caps eligibility for any expansion to those at or below the federal poverty level, limiting the number of Georgians who could ultimately be covered.

Kemp says the plan will allow Georgia to cover more citizens and lower private insurance premiums.

Many Democrats opposed the plan, saying it would cover fewer people and cost more than full Medicaid expansion.

Georgia is one of 14 states that haven't fully expanded Medicaid under the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

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