Big Uptick in the Uninsured

By Cindy Zeldin

On Thursday, the U.S. Census Bureau released new figures on health insurance coverage in the United States. According to their estimates, 50.7 million Americans were uninsured in 2009, up from 46.3 million in 2008. Here in Georgia, nearly 1.8 million of us—almost 1 in 5 Georgians—are uninsured. In raw numbers, only four states in the entire nation have larger numbers of individuals without health insurance than Georgia. The primary driver of this increase was a rapid decline in employment-based health insurance coverage during the economic downturn.


The recently enacted Affordable Care Act takes square aim at this problem: it establishes clear and consumer-friendly standards for private insurance plans, creates new pathways to affordable, private coverage for individuals who aren’t offered insurance at work, and expands the Medicaid program. While the law will be implemented in phases between now and 2014, these staggering figures on the rising tide of uninsurance demonstrate the need for renewed commitment and collaboration between our state’s policymakers, stakeholders, and advocates to leverage the opportunities presented by the Affordable Care Act to increase coverage, expand access to care, and ultimately improve the health of our state and its citizens.


Prevention and Public Health Fund at Risk

By Bob Stolarick and Cindy Zeldin

The Affordable Care Act includes a major new investment in prevention and public health:  The Prevention and Public Health Fund is designated for use in communities across the country to target key public health issues such as tobacco cessation and efforts to reduce obesity by encouraging better nutrition and increased physical activity. The funding will also be used to strengthen state and local public health infrastructure, support data collection and analysis for community-based and clinical-based prevention activities and to expand and improve training for the public health workforce. Here in Georgia, these funds will be critical to strengthen our public health system.


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