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Revisions to Georgia’s Medicaid Application Process for Providers during the Public Health Emergency

Written by: Brittany H. Cone, Esq. and Teresa Westmoreland

COVID-19 continues to affect applicants for Georgia Medicaid.  Based on the Public Health Emergency (“PHE”) declaration in March 2020, the Division of Family and Children Services (“DFCS”) altered its verification process for the Medical Assistance Program (“Medicaid”).  These core alterations to the verification process allowed four key changes. First, self-attestation would be accepted for all verifications with the exception of Citizenship/Immigrations Status/Identity.  Second, the timeliness standards were extended, allowing DFCS additional time to process an application if needed. Third, the renewals period beginning with renewals due effective March 2020 were extended. Lastly, the requirement for a Qualified Income Trust (“QIT”) were waived for the month of application allowing additional time for the applicant to comply with setting up a QIT account.

The applicable PHE has been extended multiple times since March 2020. Recently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) renewed the declaration for an additional 90 days, setting an expiration of January 20, 2021. Likewise, Georgia’s Governor, Brian Kemp, extended his Executive Order for the PHE to expire on November 9, 2020. In other words, for at least another month, DFCS’s COVID-19 policies and protocols will be in place for all new Medicaid applications and renewals. During this time, all Medicaid applications should be processed based on self-attestation and if a resident is over the income limit, a QIT should not be mandatory until the order ends. While this protocol streamlines the Medicaid application process and allows the applicants and facilities to  access the program more easily, all applicants approved during the pandemic, at some point, will need to provide all of necessary verifications once these policies return to normal.  It is unclear at this point whether the state will phase out the protocols effective November 10, 2020, or follow HHS’s PHE extension.

We continue to monitor the status of the PHE and Governor Kemp’s Executive Order and provide updates to Georgia providers in order to prepare for the resumption of normal operating procedures.