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House measure may cut kids off PeachCare
Al Williams Office 1
State Rep. Al Williams (D-Midway) works in his office. - photo by Courier file photo
A bill approved by the Georgia House of Representatives on Tuesday could make fewer children eligible for the PeachCare for Kids program.
Lawmakers passed House Bill 340, which decreases income eligibility standards for the children’s health insurance program from 235 percent of the federal poverty level to 200 percent, by a party line vote of 101-63.
House Republicans described the measure as a solution to avoid future funding problems for the financially strapped program, while Democrats vehemently criticized HB 340 as unnecessary and detrimental.
“I’m opposed to (HB) 340 because Georgia has a good program that is doing well,” Rep. Al Williams (D-Midway) said. “At 235 percent, we’re well within the norm of most states and doing a much better job than a vast majority of states. This is not one of the things we had to do and there’s going to be some drop-off of kids who should be eligible.”
PeachCare now insures more than 300,000 children in Georgia. An estimated 1,200 reside in Liberty County.
According to a report by the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, decreasing the income eligibility level to 200 percent of the federal poverty level will prevent 3,000 to 5,000 children per year from enrolling in PeachCare.
Children presently insured by the program will be grandfathered into the new system, but their families could see an increase in their monthly premiums.
Under HB 340, dental and vision care, both currently included in premium rates, would become optional insurance add-ons with an additional charge.
As the bill now moves through the Senate, more premium changes are possible.
“Some parents aren’t paying any premiums now,” Senate Majority Leader and PeachCare Task Force member Tommie Williams (R-Lyons) said, pointing out children under the age of 5 are covered at no cost under current PeachCare guidelines. “We’re looking at how we can adjust the premiums to make it a little more fair so that we can be fiscally sound.”

How Liberty’s delegates voted
Rep. Al Williams (D-Midway), NO
Rep. Terry Barnard (R-Glennville), YES
Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Garden City), YES
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