ATLANTA – The state agency that runs Georgia’s Medicaid program is asking for $7.2 million for a new initiative aimed at improving oversight of the private sector companies that manage health care for the state’s Medicaid recipients.
The Georgia Board of Community Health voted unanimously Thursday to seek the funds as part of the Department of Community Health’s (DCH) fiscal 2024 mid-year budget request.
Most of the money would go toward adding 49 positions to give the department the ability to predict where the Medicaid program is headed rather than being forced to react to budget needs, DCH Chief Operating Officer Joe Hood told board members before Thursday’s vote.
“We’d like to be looking at trends in advance, not just on the back end,” he said.
With the state sitting on a massive budget surplus, Gov. Brian Kemp has given agencies across state government the leeway to propose spending increases of 3% in their fiscal 2024 midyear and fiscal 2025 budget requests.
“This is our first opportunity in some time to ask for new funds,” Hood said.
The new oversight initiative comes as the DCH prepares to issue a Request for Proposals to select private-sector care management organizations (CMOs) to run Georgia’s Medicaid program. The staffing increase is aimed at helping the agency make the right choices.
“We’re under-resourced for a state of our size in CMO management,” Hood said.
Meanwhile, the DCH also is seeking $1.3 million in its fiscal 2025 budget for 7% pay raises for employees in the agency’s Healthcare Facility Regulation Division, which oversees hospitals and nursing homes.
Hood said the raises would help reduce turnover.
“We need to be closer to the market rate,” he said. “This gives us some opportunity to do that.”
Finally, the board is proposing a $1.4 million reduction in next year’s DCH budget, which would come from savings in contractual services.
Besides allowing 3% spending hikes, Kemp’s budget instructions also asked state agencies to look for ways to cut their spending by 1%.
The governor will present his budget recommendations to the General Assembly in January.