Learn more about Ralph Mark Gilbert, Father of the Civil Rights Movement in Georgia
One of the major coverage provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the expansion of Medicaid eligibility to nearly all low-income individuals with incomes at or below 138 percent of poverty ($27,724 for a family of three in 2015).
This expansion fills in historical gaps in Medicaid eligibility for adults and was envisioned as the vehicle for extending insurance coverage to low-income individuals, with premium tax credits for Marketplace coverage serving as the vehicle for covering people with moderate incomes. While the Medicaid expansion was intended to be national, the June 2012 Supreme Court ruling essentially made it optional for states.
As of January 2016, 19 states including Georgia were not expanding their programs. Medicaid eligibility for adults in states not expanding their programs is quite limited: the median income limit for parents in 2016 is just 44% of poverty, or an annual income of $8,840 a year for a family of three, and in nearly all states not expanding, childless adults remain ineligible.
Further, because the ACA envisioned low-income people receiving coverage through Medicaid, it does not provide financial assistance to people below poverty for other coverage options. As a result, in states that do not expand Medicaid, many adults fall into a “coverage gap” of having incomes above Medicaid eligibility limits but below the lower limit for Marketplace premium tax credits.