Tobacco Tax Helps Budget, Children

This commentary originally appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

As the 2010 legislative session opened, Georgia faced a dilemma: With a sluggish economy and unemployment hovering over 10 percent, there is a spike in the need for safety net services at the very time that state revenues are sagging.


Severe budget deficits threaten essential services such as Medicaid and PeachCare for Kids, which serve as lifelines to low-income families who might otherwise be uninsured in this difficult economic climate.


One potential solution is an increase in the state’s tobacco tax, currently one of the lowest in the nation, which could have the dual effect of reducing smoking rates and generating revenue to preserve necessary health services.


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CLASS Act

By Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities

The national health reform legislation moving through Congress includes provisions that would impact people with disabilities. The CLASS Act, for example, is incorporated in the current legislation. What would the CLASS Act do?  The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act (CLASS Act) would offer a meaningful non-means-tested complement to the Medicaid program with a focus on helping individuals overcome barriers to independence that they may confront due to severe functional impairments.  It would create a new national insurance program to help adults who have or develop severe functional impairments to remain independent, employed, and stay a part of their community.  Financed through modest voluntary payroll deductions (with opt-out enrollment like Medicare Part B), this legislation would help remove barriers to choice and independence (e.g., housing modification, assistive technologies, personal assistance services, transportation) that can be overwhelmingly costly, by providing a cash benefit to those individuals who need support for basic functions.  The large risk pool to be created by this approach would make added coverage affordable.  It would give individuals added choice and access to supports without requiring them to become impoverished to qualify for Medicaid. You can learn more about the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities’ health care agenda here.


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Struggling Georgians Deserve Better Health Care Options

By Cindy Zeldin


This piece originally appeared in the Macon Telegraph.


In these difficult economic times, the loss of a job is frequently compounded by the loss of the health insurance that had been tied to it. With unemployment rates hovering near 10 percent, more and more Georgians are facing this dual predicament.



For many recently unemployed Georgians, a popular program that subsidizes the continuation of employer-sponsored coverage has served as a lifeline since it was enacted into law in early 2009.  Under the program, known as the COBRA subsidy, most workers laid off between September 1, 2008 and December 31, 2009 were made eligible for a 9-month subsidy to ease the financial load of paying full freight to stay on their old plan.



In normal times, people losing their jobs can remain on their previous employment-based plan for 18 months by paying the entire premium, including the portion their former employer had previously contributed. For someone who has just lost his or her primary source of income, however, paying the entire premium can be cost prohibitive. To address this challenge, the subsidy puts COBRA coverage in reach for many Georgians:  according to a study recently released by Families USA, monthly premiums for subsidized COBRA coverage average $369 in Georgia, while the average monthly premium without the subsidy is $1,053.

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Oct 3, 2017
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