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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National Medicaid Expansion Is a Bargain for Georgia

By Tim Sweeney


Over at the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute, we’ve recently released a brief that shows why expanding Medicaid to cover hundreds of thousands of low-income, uninsured Georgians is a bargain for the state. (Read the brief here.)


Instead of focusing on the small portion of the expansions costs that will be borne by the state (about 10 percent for newly eligible people), Georgia leaders should focus on the substantial social and economic benefits that the expansion and additional federal money would bring to Georgia.


Low-income Georgians already have far less access to employer-sponsored health insurance than higher income Georgians, and are seeing their limited access decline even more. Georgia had the 10th highest uninsured rate in the nation, on average, from 2006-2008, and because Medicaid eligibility thresholds here are pretty low, the state would benefit greatly from the national expansion.


Tim Sweeney

Sr. Healthcare Analyst

Georgia Budget & Policy Institute


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Changes are needed inside the state to help Georgians afford needed care

Guest Blog By Holly Lang

 

Each day, the crisis of affordable care grows for uninsured and underinsured Georgians.

 

An estimated one-third of all insured Georgians went without adequate health care coverage in 2007, a number that continues to grow each year. Increasingly so, many plans do not pay for preventative care, such as physicals and Pap smears, which are so important when it comes to health.

 

And for uninsured, the numbers are even worse.

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Be on the Move…

Guest Blog By Joann Yoon

 

In reading through an issue of The Economist earlier this year, I came across an obituary for Sir John Mortimer, an English barrister and well-known writer.  I didn’t know who he was prior to reading the article, but was impressed to learn about his life and his efforts to make social change through the practice of law and through his writing.  One of the quotes attributed to him that stuck out in my mind was the sentiment that offense makes society move. I often think about this notion, and link it to thoughts particularly as the battle wages on regarding whether or not to implement health reform.

 

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Barriers to Care at Grady: The Big Picture

By Benjamin Nanes, HealthSTAT


HealthSTAT previously reported concerns from students and health professionals that it is becoming more difficult for immigrants to access care in the Grady Health System, which includes Grady Memorial Hospital and its eight neighborhood health centers. Though this issue has not been widely reported, there have been similar worries in the community at large as well. Yolanda Hallas, Executive Director of the Hispanic Health Coalition of Georgia, has collected reports from immigrants who have been denied discounted care at Grady due to apparent changes in how the health system enforces its policies. Among them are unemployed patients and family members of Medicaid-eligible children, people who clearly cannot afford health care anywhere else. In order to understand what is happening, it is important to look at the big picture: how the Grady system delivers care to those who are unable to pay, and the financial and political pressures that system faces.


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Halloween Health Wonk Review

By Cindy Zeldin

Health Wonk Review is a biweekly roundup highlighting some of the most interesting health policy blog postings. Healthy Debate Georgia made its debut in the current issue (all decked out for Halloween). Give it a visit.


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Cancer Screenings: ACS Weighs In

By American Cancer Society

Recently there’s been some media attention about the American Cancer Society and our views on cancer screening that may have been confusing to some. It is important to know that the American Cancer Society is not changing our screening guidelines.


The bottom line? We know that screening saves lives and creates more birthdays. We encourage women at average risk to get mammograms starting at age 40, to get Pap tests as soon as they are sexually active or no later than age 21, and both men and women at average risk to get screened for colon cancer starting at age 50.  You can find our complete screening guidelines here.


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Health Reform: Expanding Medicaid

Guest Blog By Tim Sweeney

Good day everyone! I’m Tim Sweeney, Sr. Healthcare Analyst with the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute, and I’m honored and excited to be a contributor to this new health blog being launched by Georgians for a Healthy Future. I’ve been working on healthcare policy issues here in Georgia for nearly five years now, and I’m happy we now have a new avenue for us to talk about healthcare issues in Georgia and to share ideas and perspectives

 

Without a doubt, healthcare issues are more in the forefront of the national and state debate now than in quite a long time. At the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute we strive to bring credible facts and figures to the debate, so that the decisions made are well-informed and the likely effects of the decisions are well-understood. Furthermore, we strive to examine the issues with a keen eye towards how policies and proposals will affect low- and moderate-income Georgians.

 

Right now, the loudest parts of the healthcare debate are centered on whether there will be a public option to compete with private insurance and what arbitrary price-tag the final legislation will have. Often less discussed are the aspects of the proposals that would provide significant funding to help millions of currently uninsured individuals and families finally afford coverage; in particular, provisions that expand the Medicaid program to cover individuals and families with incomes up to 133% of the federal poverty level (about $13,800 for an individual and about $24,300 for a family of 3).

 

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