Calling All Volunteers!

 

On Saturday, March 27th at the Georgia International Convention Center in Atlanta the Georgia Free Clinic Network and the National Association of Free Clinics are sponsoring a Free Health Clinic for the state’s uninsured residents.  Based on the success of similar events country-wide, we anticipate serving 1800-2200 uninsured Georgians.  Similar free clinics have been sponsored by the NAFC in Houston TX, New Orleans LA, Little Rock AR, Kansas City MO, and Hartford CT.  These events have been documented by the Dr. Oz Show, Good Morning America, CNN and MSNBC.  The Atlanta event will also be a focus of the national press.   To view videos of some of previous one-day clinics, click here.

 

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Tobacco Tax Is a Win for Georgia

Guest Blog By Michelle Putnam, MPH

For those inclined to live under a rock, the state of Georgia is in a deep recession, with revenues steadily declining over the past year and showing no sign of recovery.  In Georgia, 20% of adults and 18% of high school students smoke, costing our $2 billion a year in smoking-related health problems.  Is there a magic pill that would solve both of these problems at once?  You bet there is.  I give you, the tobacco tax.

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In Raw Numbers, We’re 5th

By Cindy Zeldin

A new study released this week by Georgia State University found that, in sheer numbers, only California, Texas, New York, and Florida have more uninsured people than Georgia. That’s right:  we rank 5th in the total number of uninsured, but 9th in total population. Comprehensive health reform would provide affordable avenues to coverage for the vast majority of our state’s 1.67 million uninsured. Let’s get it done.


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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Covering More Georgians through Medicaid

By Cindy Zeldin


The Georgia Budget & Policy Institute’s Tim Sweeney makes a compelling case for expanding Medicaid to cover more Georgians in today’s AJC as part of a pro/con piece on the opinion page. Read it here.


Health Care Reform Will Help Georgia Residents Find Coverage

This post originally appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on December 8, 2009.


By Cindy Zeldin


Our nation is on the cusp of historic public policy change. In the next several weeks, the most sweeping health reform legislation in 40 years will likely become law. Despite the heated town halls of August and the steady stream of information coming from the legislative debates in Washington, many Georgians are still wondering: What does this mean for me?


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Georgia Wins if Medicaid Expands

By Cindy Zeldin

This post was originally published in the Savannah Morning News.


The health reform legislation being debated in Congress right now features a range of provisions aimed at increasing the number of Americans who have health insurance.


One of these elements is a significant expansion of Medicaid, the joint state-federal program that provides health insurance to low-income, uninsured families. Under the bill recently passed by the House, Medicaid would be available to individuals and families with incomes at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level, or approximately $27,465 in annual income for a family of three.


This expansion would go into effect in 2013, with full federal financing in 2013 and 2014. After that, the federal government would pay for 91 percent of the cost of the newly eligible population, leaving the state to pay for the remaining nine percent beginning in 2015. The Georgia Department of Community Health recently estimated that Georgia’s share of this expansion would cost around $2.4 billion over the five-year period between 2015 and 2019.


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Grady Needs Public Support

Guest Blog By Benjamin Nanes

 

Grady Memorial Hospital’s decision to close its outpatient dialysis clinic has brought protesters to hospital board meetings, sparked a lawsuit, and generated headlines across the country. The clinic’s patients, mostly undocumented immigrants who cannot get regular care elsewhere, will be forced to leave Atlanta or to seek care through emergency rooms.

 

They will face delayed and inadequate treatment, spend more time in hospitals and die sooner.

 

It’s a dramatic story, but the closing of Grady’s dialysis clinic is only one symptom of a larger problem. Grady is in trouble, largely because the state and county governments, while claiming to support the services that Grady provides, have failed to support the hospital financially. That needs to change. Without adequate funding, Grady will be forced to cut more services, leaving even more people without the medical care they need.

 

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