Ups and downs…

The 2014 Georgia Legislative Session has ended. Thank you to so many of you for reaching out to your legislators during this past session to let them know that covering Georgia’s uninsured and improving access to health care for all Georgians are important priorities for you. Thank you to the dozens of committed advocates who joined us for Cover Georgia day at the Capitol, and thank you to the more than 8,000 of you who signed the Cover Georgia petition to express your support for the Medicaid expansion.

 
 

This was a disappointing legislative session for health care consumers. HB 990, which prohibits Medicaid expansion without prior legislative approval, and the portions of HB 707 (amended onto HB 943) that would prevent state entities from serving as health insurance navigators, prohibit the state from setting up a health insurance exchange, and limit the ability of state and local employees to advocate for the Medicaid expansion passed through the General Assembly. While some of the most harmful elements of HB 707 were removed before its final passage, this bill sends a horrible message to Georgia health care consumers who seek information about how to enroll in and utilize the new health insurance options available to them through the Affordable Care Act.

 
 

On the upside, hundreds of Georgians are enrolling each day in health insurance. At last count, more than 139,000 Georgians have enrolled in health care coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, and Georgians for a Healthy Future is actively working alongside our coalition partners to maximize enrollment leading up to the March 31st deadline. And despite the setbacks of the 2014 Legislative Session, the Cover Georgia coalition will continue to advocate for covering our state’s uninsured, strengthening our state’s health care delivery system, and growing the economy by implementing the Medicaid expansion.

 

 

 

Thank you again for your continued support and advocacy!

 

 

 

 

Action Alert!

Action Alert—Stop HB 707!

 

House Bill 707 would prohibit the state of Georgia from leveraging federal dollars to cover the uninsured and from providing consumer assistance to Georgians enrolling in health insurance. HB 707 was designed and promoted by the tea party to prevent hard-working Georgians from accessing health care, and it is in danger of becoming law in Georgia. We need your voice! Georgia citizens deserve better than to have the door slammed in their face when they seek out information about how to cover themselves and their family. Our state’s struggling hospitals and uninsured citizens deserve an honest policy discussion about Medicaid expansion, not a gag order on state and local employees. Call Lt. Governor Casey Cagle at 404-656-5030 and your state senator (locate your state senator here) and ask them to oppose HB 707.

 

House Bill 707 would:

 

  1. Prohibit any state agency, department or political subdivision from using resources or spending funds to advocate for the expansion of Medicaid. This would stifle conversation and analysis about how to leverage federal dollars from covering the state’s uninsured.

 

  1. Prohibit the state of Georgia from running an insurance exchange or accepting federal dollars related to an exchange. This broad language could stop quality local programs that provide assistance to vulnerable Georgians getting coverage through the exchange.

 

  1. End the University of Georgia Health Navigator Program. Currently, the University of Georgia is providing enrollment assistance to consumers seeking out health insurance with federal grant money. HB 707 would prohibit UGA from sitting down with uninsured consumers and helping them enroll in a private health insurance plan.

 

  1. Prohibit the Commissioner of Insurance from investigating or enforcing any alleged violation of federal health insurance requirements mandated by the Affordable Care Act. Under HB 707, if a consumer has been treated unfairly by their health insurance company, they may have no state recourse.

 

 

HB 707 has already passed the state House of Representatives and may be up for a vote in the State Senate early next week. We need your voice to prevent this harmful bill from becoming law!

 

GHF in today’s AJC!

The following opinion piece by Georgians for a Healthy Future’s Executive Director Cindy Zeldin originally appeared in today’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

 

Large majorities of young adults say they need and value health insurance, yet people in this age group are far more likely to be uninsured than children, seniors or older adults. Thirty-five percent of Georgians between 18 and 34 are uninsured. How can something so important be so elusive?

 

Until now, the health insurance of millenials had largely been neglected by public policy, leaving them with few options that provided adequate benefits at an affordable cost.

 

Most Americans get health insurance as a workplace benefit. They get a substantial employer contribution and receive these benefits on a pre-tax basis. Today’s young adults, however, are entering the job market in a tough economy. They are less likely to land jobs with health insurance. They often cobble together internships and part-time work to gain experience and make ends meet. For too many young adults, there simply has been no viable pathway to coverage.

 

The tide is turning. An estimated 3.1 million young adults nationwide — and 123,000 here in Georgia — have gained coverage as a direct result of an Affordable Care Act provision that allows parents to keep their children on policies up to age 26. This popular and effective public policy change was just a first step. The new health insurance exchanges will provide options for young adults who previously had nowhere to go.

 

These plans provide decent benefits and, in many cases, access to tax credits to make them affordable. The tax credits, available to individuals with annual incomes between $11,490 and $45,960, can be taken either at the time health insurance is purchased or at tax time. Some moderate-income individuals also can get help with out-of-pocket expenses.

 

For millenials who had been underwhelmed with the health insurance options available to them in the past, this is a breath of fresh air. For example, maternity coverage had been nearly impossible to secure in the Georgia non-group market for young couples ready to start a family. Now, this important benefit will be available.

 

While it is true some young adults enrolled in old plans may see higher premiums, many of those old plans didn’t provide adequate protection. Further, young adults who had a pre-existing chronic helath condition were locked out of the market entirely, a practice insurance companies must discontinue.

 

 The private insurance plans available through the exchanges won’t meet the needs of all young adults in Georgia. Those who have incomes that place them below the poverty line will likely remain uninsured unless Georgia expands its Medicaid program.

 

Most young adults want what Americans of all ages want: the peace of mind that comes with knowing that an unexpected cancer diagnosis or accident doesn’t equal financial ruin, and that they have access to basic medical services. The new coverage options are finally leveling the playing field for this generation. It’s about time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Georgians for a Healthy Future

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100 Edgewood Avenue
Suite 815
Atlanta, GA 30303

Phone: 404-567-5016
Fax: 404-935-9885
E-Mail: info@healthyfuturega.org

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