“During a time when the administration is making numerous, often confusing changes to health insurance, more consumer assistance is needed, not less."-- Laura Colbert, Executive Director, Georgians for a Healthy Future
Guest Blog by Holly Lang, Georgia Watch
In a March ruling that could hold implications for all nonprofit hospitals, the Illinois Supreme Court stripped not-for-profit Provena Covenant Medical Center of its exemption from property tax, stating that the hospital did not provide enough charity care to justify that exemption.
A hospital earns its tax-exempt status through the benefits it provides to the community, the most of which being the free or reduced-cost care for those eligible for such assistance. Such care is deemed indigent or charity care.
Guest Blog By Timothy Sweeney
Senior Healthcare Analyst, GBPI
As we approach the final seven legislative days for 2010, there’s still a great deal of uncertainty surrounding both the schedule the General Assembly will set for themselves, as well as with the policy-related results of the session.
Still the most important task before the House and Senate – really the only thing the Legislature HAS to accomplish during the session – is the FY 2011 budget. Currently, House appropriations subcommittees are scheduled for April 12, which means we could see subcommittee budget recommendations next week and passage of the FY 2011 budget by the House later in the week.
We are now in the 28th day of the legislative session and as cross-over day approaches, things are heating under the gold dome. By midnight on Thursday, bills must clear their chamber of origin if they are to pass this term unless they are attached to another eligible measure. Georgians for a Healthy Future will continue to monitor legislation that will impact the health and welfare of all Georgians and work towards providing access to affordable and quality health care.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.