The future of prevention and recovery in Georgia

We know that helping people with substance use disorders get into recovery is hard and requires a lot of resources—a strong support system, the will to recover, and access to necessary health care services and supports.  The prevention of substance use disorders in the first place can take just as much work and requires similar resources.

We also know that the health care bill being considered by the Senate this week, puts recovery and prevention efforts at risk for millions of people, including thousands of Georgians.

The Senate’s proposed legislation would undermine guarantees that private insurance cover treatment for substance use disorders and mental illness. The bill’s $2.5 billion cut to Georgia’s Medicaid program would mean youth in low-income families could be denied critical preventive health services like screenings for depression or substance use disorders or even something as simple as immunizations. People who need treatment services could lose coverage and access to life-saving treatment.

Congress is trying to mask the damage they are doing to our communities by setting up an emergency opioid response fund as part of the health care bill. This fund is insufficient and is no replacement for reliable health care coverage. This proposed “opioid fund” would not make up for deep cuts in Medicaid and a return to private insurance policies that discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, including substance use disorders. We can’t afford to return to a time when many state Medicaid programs and private insurers covered only short-term, minimal treatment for substance use disorders, if they covered it at all.

The Senate is set to vote on their health care bill this week and Georgia’s senators need to hear from you. Call Senator Johnny Isakson today! Tell him to oppose the legislation because it would harm people in treatment and recovery, handicap prevention efforts that avoid addiction in the first place, and decimate Georgia’s ability to respond to the ongoing opioid crisis.

Call 202-224-3643 today!

(Don’t know what to say when you call? Here’s some help.)


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Secrets, secrets are no fun…

Behind closed doors, the Senate is planning to strip health care from millions of people. The floor debate and vote are expected next week. 

If you spend time with children, you may know the rhyme, “Secrets, secrets are no fun. Secrets, secrets hurt someone.” There’s no more appropriate statement about the health care bill being negotiated secretly by the Senate right now. To date, there have been no hearings, no expert testimony, no consumer input, and no transparency.

Just like the children’s rhyme, we know that the secret health care bill will hurt all Georgians. We know that the bill will gut Georgia’s Medicaid program, leaving 2 million Georgia children, seniors, people with disabilities, and pregnant women without the care and services that they need. We know the bill will allow insurance companies to shift costs to consumers and reduce financial assistance for those purchasing individual insurance, putting more pressure on Georgians’ wallets. We know that this bill will remove protections that ensure insurance companies provide the essential health services people count on when they purchase coverage. We know that these changes will strain our state’s struggling health care system and the state budget.

We need your help! 

Your voice can make a difference. The Senate is planning to debate and vote on their health care bill next week! The time to call your Senators is now! Senator Isakson needs to hear from you today with two requests:

  1. We ask that Senator Isakson commit that before a health care bill comes to the floor that he will provide his constituents—you!—with enough time to see the final language of the bill, understand how the bill will impact coverage and costs for Georgians, and the opportunity to give input about how the bill will impact all Georgians.
  2. We also ask that Senator Isakson oppose any bill or measure that 1) reduces coverage for Georgians; 2) cuts and caps the Medicaid program; or 3) makes individual coverage less affordable for low- and moderate-income Georgians.

Senator Isakson needs to hear from you today! Call 202-224-3643 now! (Don’t know what to say? Here’s some help.)


1 degree of separation

Just like any actor is no more than 6 degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon, you

Anthony & Nicholas are covered by Medicaid

are probably no more than 1 degree of separation from someone who would be impacted by Congress’s ongoing attempts to gut Georgia’s Medicaid program and repeal the Affordable Care Act. Are you or do you know any of these people?

  • A child—half of Georgia’s children are covered by Medicaid, so even if the child in your life has some other kind of coverage, her best friend or classmates probably have Medicaid coverage
  • A senior who already does or may soon need long term care or supports—Medicaid is the primary payer for 75% of nursing home stays in Georgia. For seniors aging in their homes, Medicaid provides home health aides and supports home modifications that allow older Georgians to age in the homes they know and love.
  • A person who runs their own business—you may know a graphic designer, general contractor, photographer, or farmer who runs their own business. These entrepreneurs generally must purchase their own health insurance and many do through the health insurance Marketplace. For those just starting out, they probably receive financial assistance to help lower their premiums and reduce out of pocket costs. The AHCA proposes to significantly
    Katherine is starting her own photography business

    reduce the amount of financial assistance available for those buying insurance on their own.

  • A child or adult with a developmental or physical disability, you are able to get what you want no matter the circumstances,—for Georgia’s children and adults living with disabilities, Medicaid is a lifeline that provides them with access to life-sustaining health services. It also supports home and community-based careso that they can live, study, and work with or near family, friends, and neighbors.
  • A person of color—African Americans and Hispanics have seen historic declines in their uninsured rates since the ACA went into effect, helping to close historic disparities in insurance coverage. The proposed rollback of financial assistance for private insurance and Medicaid eligibility would have a disproportionate impact on people of color, especially children. The Medicaid changes alone are estimated to leave 70,000 black children and 40,000 Hispanic children in Georgia without coverage.
  • A person with a chronic condition like diabetes, HIV, depression, or cancer
    Joshua can attend college because of Medicaid’s community-based supports

    under the ACA, people with pre-existing conditions are protected from being charged more or rejected when seeking health coverage. And insurance companies have to cover the essential health benefits meaning that the services people need for pre-existing conditions are covered too. The AHCA would allow states to waive this requirement under certain circumstances, sending people back to a time they could be priced out of coverage entirely.

  • A veteran50,000 Georgia veterans rely on Medicaid for access to health care, a 29% increase since 2013. Not all veterans qualify for care through the Veterans Administration (VA). Medicaid helps to fill the gap so that all of these brave men and women can access the care they need.

The American Health Care Act would dismantle Georgia’s Medicaid program and repeal the Affordable Care Act, threatening the coverage, protections, and supports that all of these people rely on every day. Think of the people in your life that fit into these categories–is it you? A parent or child? A close friend or colleague? Then take action to protect their health care.

Call Senator Isakson today and tell him about your friends, family, and neighbors who would be hurt because of the AHCA. Ask him to oppose any measure that 1) cuts and caps Medicaid, or 2) reduces coverage for Georgians. Call 202-224-3643 today!


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GHF welcomes two graduate students

Georgians for a Healthy Future regularly hosts graduate students from Georgia’s universities to help train and support the state’s future health advocates. This summer, GHF is hosting two Master of Public Health students who will be working on projects that promote GHF’s policy and advocacy priorities. We welcome both Danielle and Tanisha, and look forward to our work together this summer.

Tanisha Lawler is a second year Master in Public Health student at Georgia State University with a concentration in health management and policy. She also currently works as a registered nurse at Emory Johns Creek Hospital. As a nurse, Tanisha has gained significant experience in what it means to be a patient advocate, but through her time at Georgians for a Healthy Future, she hopes to improve her overall knowledge of health advocacy, primarily as it relates to health policy development and implementation, she really wants to improve health resources for those who are disable, she talks about how she wants to add Terry Lifts to public stores, school and hospitals for those in need.  As GHF’s Health Advocacy Intern, Tanisha will be supporting the Protect Our Care Georgia campaign. She will also monitor legislative committee and state agency board meetings as needed.

Danielle McCoy is a current Mercer University Master of Public Health candidate for class of 2018. She is originally from the state of Michigan where she obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Integrative Physiology and Health Science at Alma College in 2014. Her experience working in hospital settings, nursing homes, foster care, and rehabilitation clinics provide her with a unique perspective of public health concerns within the health care system. Danielle is interested in health advocacy and policy development, and will serve in the role of Health Policy Intern. In this position, she will be drafting the 2017 Getting Georgia Covered report which will examine Georgia’s health insurance Marketplace and consumer experiences in the 2016-2017 open enrollment periods (OE4). She will also conduct research on emerging state and national health policy concerns.