Annie Jones says she works hard and tries to keep fit, but she has high blood pressure, a condition that doctors have told her she inherited from her father.
The Sparta resident, who turned 60 this year, is worried about health care. Jones won’t reach Medicare age for another five years. She earns $10,000 a year as a part-time home health care worker and can’t afford her blood pressure medicine as well as the regular monitoring she needs.
Jeanna Buckler of Kentucky has qualified for Medicaid under expansion.
Jones is one of up to 600,000 Georgians defined as the working poor – those adults who earn less than 100 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). (In 2014, that’s $11,670 for an individual and $23,850 for adults in a family of four.)
For the first time ever in Georgia, these adults would be eligible for Medicaid if the state expanded the program as authorized by the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare.
The ACA originally made Medicaid expansion virtually mandatory for states. But the U.S. Supreme Court, while upholding the ACA in general, ruled that expansion must be optional. That made things complicated, because some other provisions of the law presupposed that Medicaid would be expanded.
Now the issue of expansion is being hashed out in the individual states.
In Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal refuses to expand Medicaid, saying the state cannot afford it. The Republican-controlled General Assembly agrees with Deal and has even gone a step further. It passed legislation during the 2014 session that requires the Legislature, not just the governor, to approve any Medicaid expansion.
“They’re telling me I don’t deserve it,” Jones said of Medicaid. “When they say Georgia is just fine without expanding Medicaid, well, it’s just fine for them. I need some type of help. I can’t get it anywhere. It’s very stressful.”
If Jones made more than $11,670, she would be eligible for federal subsidies to buy private insurance through Georgia’s health care exchange, which is operated by the federal government as part of the ACA.
“I didn’t get enough money working part time, making minimum wage,” Jones said. She assists two home health care clients for 22 hours a week and is trying to get more work. “A lot of people are just like me, trying to make it. Where do you go?” full story