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Now, Georgia can close insurance gap
Sweeney is deputy director of policy for the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute - photo by File photo

On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court again upheld a key component of the Affordable Care Act against a politically driven effort to dismantle the law through the court system. The King v. Burwell ruling protects tax credits in states such as Georgia that chose to use the federal marketplace rather than create their own state-based health-insurance exchange.

More than 450,000 Georgians have coverage through the federal exchange, and 90 percent of them receive a monthly average of $274 in tax credits to help purchase private health insurance.

New health-insurance options through the marketplace as well as enrollment growth among children who already were eligible for Medicaid or PeachCare helped lower Georgia’s uninsured rate significantly over the last two years, yet the state still ranks among the highest for percentage of uninsured people.  ...

Georgia’s stubbornly high uninsured rate is in part due to state leaders’ decision not to close the state’s coverage gap. That shortsighted choice leaves nearly 300,000 uninsured Georgians without affordable coverage. Remedying this situation would bring $3 billion in federal funds to Georgia’s health-care system every year.  ...

Now that the soundness of the federal health-care law is again reaffirmed, however, Georgia’s leaders should focus on closing the coverage gap and extending health coverage to working adults across the state who make too little to qualify for tax credits through, but who make too much to qualify under Georgia’s strict Medicaid eligibility guidelines.

This colum was distributed by the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, an independent think tank that describes its mission as building a more-prosperous Georgia by analyzing tax policies and providing education to inspire informed debate and responsible decision-making.

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