Community Health Commissioner David Cook said Thursday that the elections could determine whether federal health reform is repealed, replaced or implemented. If it remains in place, the state will have to decide whether to participate in an expansion of the program that provides health coverage to the poor. An expansion could impact any redesign of how the state administers it.
Cook said the U.S. Supreme Court's July ruling that health reform is constitutional but that the Medicaid expansion is voluntary for states was a surprise.
"That created a fair amount of uncertainty," he said.
Gov. Nathan Deal has said he will not decide whether Georgia will participate in the expansion until after the elections.
"The elections will give us some clarity on some paths forward," Cook said.
In the meantime, the Department of Community Health that runs the program in Georgia has streamlined some administrative procedures, given doctors and hospitals more information about patients' medical records on a secure website, and is compiling a list of approved drugs that will apply to people covered by any of the three companies that handle claims. The drug list will also apply to people covered by other state programs, such as PeachCare for Kids and state employees.
"We're moving very rapidly with many of these," said Jerry Dubberly, chief of the Medicaid Division.