PeachWork: Medicaid for Workers with Disabilitieswebmaster
What is PeachWork?
PeachWork is the disability community’s word for a common sense idea – promoting employment for a population that needs health insurance to a greater degree than their non-disabled peers. In general, policy makers and the public support this idea. Back in 2006, the General Assembly included language permitting the Department of Community Health to establish Medicaid for Workers with Disabilities, a program that allows people with disabilities the opportunity to return to work, earn and save money while maintaining needed health coverage; 45 other states have similar programs enabling employment for people with disabilities whose earnings/savings would otherwise make them ineligible for Medicaid health insurance. Put simply, workers with disabilities can work and save for retirement without the risk of losing the basic, (state plan) Medicaid health insurance. And just like PeachCare, PeachWorkers pay premiums for their coverage.
So What is the Problem?
The Georgia program quickly became obsolete. It took two years for DCH to implement the program. In the spring of 2008, only two people enrolled in the program because the unearned income limits established in the 2006 Legislative Session have never been updated. The average Social Security Disability Insurance is now $1,166.00; in 2006, it was $978.
What is needed?
Advocates are asking that the General Assembly include language in the budget authorizing the Department of Community Health to regularly modernize the unearned income limits of the program. Language might be along the lines of “Shall the General Assembly authorize the Department of Community Health to regularly update its program for workers with disabilities?”.
What are the advantages of PeachWork?
The main advantage is that Georgia’s public policy should incentivize working and saving to the greatest extent possible. Secondly, there is considerable evidence that working decreases health care expenditures. A decade long study of Working Healthy Kansas, the name of the program in that state, revealed that health care costs for participants cost 66% less than non-working Medicaid beneficiaries. PeachWork is good public policy!