Laura Colbert, the executive director of the patient-advocacy group Georgians for a Healthy Future, is especially concerned about rural patients. Ninety percent of Georgia’s Obamacare customers would be protected from…
Blog (July 2017)
Early this morning, the U.S. Senate’s newly released Health Care Freedom Act was defeated on the Senate floor in a very close vote, bringing to a close a months’ long attempt to dismantle Medicaid and repeal major parts of the Affordable Care Act. This outcome is a victory for Georgians in every corner of the state.
At various points, Congress’s proposed legislation would have forced unconscionable cuts in health care services for vulnerable children, people with disabilities, and seniors who rely on Medicaid, made health insurance unaffordable for low and middle income Georgians, and stripped consumers of critical protections that ensure access, equity, and fairness. The passage of any of the debated proposals would have set Georgia’s health care system back 50 years and put significant strain on our state budget. Instead, we are relieved that these immediate threats have been overcome leaving in place Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act on which so many Georgia consumers rely.
This success would not have been possible without advocates like you. You worked to educate Georgia’s policymakers, mobilize your communities, and stand up for health care for all Georgians. We recognize the hard work that you have invested over the last several months and are grateful to have worked alongside you in this effort. Thank you for your dedication and your advocacy!
Our work is not over
While we celebrate today, we know our work is not over. Too many Georgians remain uninsured, continue to be burdened by high health care costs, face persistent health disparities or cannot access care when and where they need it. Now it’s time for Georgia’s policy makers, health advocates, consumers, and health care stakeholders to come together and find solutions for these problems. We must build on the progress that has been made as a result of Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act so that all Georgians have the coverage and care that they need. We look forward to working towards these goals with you to create a healthier future for all Georgians.
In a week with fast moving policy and politics, the newest Senate health care proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act is being called a “skinny repeal”. It is reported that the skinny repeal proposal would change fewer ACA provisions than previous proposals; primarily, it would eliminate the individual and employer insurance mandates, repeal the medical device tax, eliminate the Prevention and Public Health Fund, but it may include some additional provisions. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the skinny repeal would leave an additional 16 million people uninsured, raise premiums 20% in the private market, and potentially result in insurers fleeing the market all together.
The skinny repeal is not a compromise, but rather would allow Senate and House leaders to create a conference committee of select legislators charged with crafting an entirely new health care bill. Behind closed doors, the conference committee could draft legislation that includes many of the same harmful Medicaid cuts, reductions to consumer financial assistance, and insurance de-regulations that have thus far been rejected by the majority of Senators and the American public. Any bill coming out of conference committee is subject to only ten hours of debate in the Senate and amendments are not allowed. A skinny repeal still endangers Medicaid, consumers with private market coverage, Georgians with pre-existing conditions, and our state’s health care system.
Senator Isakson needs to hear from you that he should oppose a skinny repeal and any other health care proposal that 1) results in coverage losses for Georgians; 2) cuts and caps Georgia’s Medicaid program; 3) guts consumer protections for people with pre-existing health conditions; or 4) makes health insurance less affordable for low- and middle-income Georgians. Call, email or fax him today. Here’s how you can get in touch with him now:
- Call: 202-224-3643 or 404-661-0999
- Fax: (202) 228- 0724. Click here to send a fax without a fax machine.
Want more information about skinny repeal? Here are some helpful resources:
- Skinny Repeal Poses Big Risks to Medicaid, Georgetown University Center on Children and Families
- States have Already Tried Versions of “Skinny Repeal.” It Didn’t Go Well, NPR
- Commentary: “Skinny Repeal” bill–a Trojan Horse for Broader ACA Repeal and Deep Medicaid Cuts, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Senate votes to open debate on health care bill
Yesterday, the Senate voted to open debate on health care legislation that cuts and caps Medicaid and repeals major portions of the Affordable Care Act. Both Senators Isakson and Perdue voted in favor of the motion to proceed. The Senate will now begin a required twenty hours of debate followed by consideration of a lengthy list of amendments. There is a lot that still needs to happen before a final vote can be taken.
We can still stop this bill!
The foundation for the Senate debate is made up of proposals that would result in more than 20 million Americans losing coverage, the dismantling of Medicaid on which 2 million Georgia children, people with disabilities, and seniors rely, and the erasure of critical consumers protections. This legislation cannot be fixed with amendments and patch work funding. As the Senate proceeds with its debate, it is incumbent upon us to be vocal and visible in our insistence that these proposals cannot be made better.
We must ensure that Senators Isakson and Perdue hear from Georgians about what is best for our health and health care. There is still time to influence our Senators’ positions before the final vote as Senate leaders have not yet garnered the 50 votes they need for passage of any proposal. Here are three ways that you can make your voice heard in this critical time:
- Call Senators Isakson and Perdue. If you called yesterday or if you’ve never called, pick up the phone now. Ask that your Senators reject any bill that 1) results in coverage losses for Georgians; 2) cuts and caps our Medicaid program; 3) guts consumer protections for people with pre-existing conditions; or 4) makes health insurance less affordable for low- and middle-income Georgians. (None of the Senate proposals meet these standards.)
- Senator Isakson: 202-224-3643 or 770-661-0999
- Senator Perdue: 202-224-3521 or 404-865-0087
- Show Up! Stop by the local offices of Senators Isakson and Perdue to share your health care story and deliver your message in person. Both Senators have offices in metro-Atlanta:
- Senator Isakson: 3625 Cumberland Blvd, Suite 970, Atlanta, GA 30339
- Senator Perdue: 3280 Peachtree Rd. NE, Suite 2640, Atlanta, GA 30305
If you are a person of faith, attend a health care pray-in today at noon. No matter where in Georgia you live, you can put your faith into action and stand up for health care for all Georgians. Click here for details from our partners at the Interfaith Children’s Movement.
3. Ask others to join you. Ask five friends and family members to contact Senators Isakson and Perdue. All Georgians will be impacted by our Senators’ decisions over the next few days. Now is the time for all of us to speak up for what we want (and don’t) in health care reform.
Today, Georgians for a Healthy Future (GHF) announced that Cindy Zeldin, who has served as Executive Director since 2009, will step down from her leadership role at GHF to pursue a statewide bid for Insurance Commissioner in 2018. Laura Colbert, Director of Outreach & Partnerships, will assume the position of Executive Director effective August 1st. Cindy will remain involved as a special advisor to GHF to aid in the transition on a contract basis through the end of 2017.
“Under Cindy’s leadership, Georgians for a Healthy Future has grown into the state’s leading consumer health advocacy organization, and we are grateful for her vision, dedication, and hard work over the past eight years,” said GHF Board Chair Allyson Burroughs. “This is an exciting time for Cindy, and we wish her well as she works to positively impact the lives of Georgia health care consumers in a new way.”
Laura Colbert is currently the Director of Outreach & Partnerships at GHF and has been with the organization since 2014. She provides leadership for a number of GHF’s coalition-based efforts, including the Protect Our Care Georgia campaign, and has helped raise GHF’s profile around the state over the past three years. “Laura’s commitment to Georgians for a Healthy Future’s mission, strong relationships in the health care policy and advocacy community, and leadership experience will position her well as she takes the reins at GHF,” said Burroughs. Prior to joining GHF, Laura managed community partnerships and outreach for the Strong4Life program at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Laura has an MPH from Emory University and a B.S.Ed. from the University of Georgia.