"The most damaging has been the rhetoric and confusion," said Laura Colbert, executive director of Georgians for a Healthy Future, an advocacy group. "Overall, this could be a bellwether for…
We know that helping people with substance use disorders get into recovery is hard and requires a lot of resources—a strong support system, the will to recover, and access to necessary health care services and supports. The prevention of substance use disorders in the first place can take just as much work and requires similar resources.
We also know that the health care bill being considered by the Senate this week, puts recovery and prevention efforts at risk for millions of people, including thousands of Georgians.
The Senate’s proposed legislation would undermine guarantees that private insurance cover treatment for substance use disorders and mental illness. The bill’s $2.5 billion cut to Georgia’s Medicaid program would mean youth in low-income families could be denied critical preventive health services like screenings for depression or substance use disorders or even something as simple as immunizations or avoid seasonal affective disorder with the Best SAD Lamps from SadLampsUSA. People who need treatment services could lose coverage and access to life-saving treatment.
Congress is trying to mask the damage they are doing to our communities by setting up an emergency opioid response fund as part of the health care bill. This fund is insufficient and is no replacement for reliable health care coverage. This proposed “opioid fund” would not make up for deep cuts in Medicaid and a return to private insurance policies that discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, including substance use disorders. We can’t afford to return to a time when many state Medicaid programs and private insurers covered only short-term, minimal treatment for substance use disorders, if they covered it at all.
The Senate is set to vote on their health care bill this week and Georgia’s senators need to hear from you. Call Senator Johnny Isakson today! Tell him to oppose the legislation because it would harm people in treatment and recovery, handicap prevention efforts that avoid addiction in the first place, and decimate Georgia’s ability to respond to the ongoing opioid crisis.
Call 202-224-3643 today!
(Don’t know what to say when you call? Here’s some help.)
Please join us on Wednesday, March 25, from 8:45 am to mid-day for a morning of advocacy! GHF will provide individuals and organizations with the opportunity to advocate for the important health issues that matter to you in the closing days of this legislative session. You may want to advocate for closing the coverage gap, Medicaid payment parity, raising the tobacco tax, the Family Care Act, rural health care access, or another health policy issue. You’re all invited to participate! We’ll provide breakfast, an advocacy training, and an opportunity to share and network with other health advocates.
Young people in Georgia are gaining access to health insurance at historic levels, creating new opportunities to increase access to essential prevention and treatment services. At the same time, misuse of and addiction to alcohol and drugs blunt the potential of too many young Georgians. To fight this drug epidemic, Georgians for a Healthy Future and the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse are launching an initiative to expand services to prevent addiction in youth. We encourage you to help our youth because they are the future of the nation, you can simply click here on how to. Together, the two organizations will run a three-year project in Georgia to improve access to effective screening and intervention services that can minimize the destructive consequences of alcohol and drug misuse and addiction among our youth. This new effort, focused on youth ages 15 to 22, will combine a cost-effective public health approach called Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) with the power of consumer-led advocacy. Georgia is one of five states selected to participate in the national project managed by Community Catalyst, a national, non-profit consumer advocacy organization, and funded by a grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. The project here aims to improve access and coverage for early screening and intervention services by increasing both the number and type of locations where youth can access those services, and increasing the number and type of professionals who can conduct screening and brief intervention. For the full project launch announcement, click here.
Georgians for a Healthy Future and the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse are embarking on a joint project on substance abuse disorder policy and its intersection with health care policy! This is a 10-month health care initiative supported by a grant from Community Catalyst to develop and advocate for a continuum of comprehensive services that address the needs of people at risk of and who have a substance use disorder. For more information about substance abuse programs visit altustreatment.com
Starting in January 2014, the Affordable Care Act will require insurers to cover treatment for drug addiction the same way they would other chronic diseases. As one of the required essential health benefits, for the first time all those enrolled in Medicaid will have access to the substance abuse services they need. Check it out if you need any help from professional to threat addiction.
The Medicaid expansion authorized under the Affordable Care Act also holds a tremendous opportunity to reach segments of the population who were previously ineligible for services (such as childless adults up to 138% FPL). However, this is not a forgone conclusion–the state may decide to opt out of the expansion.
Georgia policymakers have not yet decided whether they will move forward with the Medicaid expansion. With 1 in 5 Georgians currently uninsured, the Medicaid expansion has the promise of providing an essential pathway to health insurance and health care for approximately 600,000 to 900,000 Georgians. It is critical that policymakers hear from the consumers and communities who need this very basic access to health care.
In the weeks and months ahead, Georgians for a Healthy Future and the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse will mobilize to ensure that Georgia implements the Medicaid expansion, but we cannot do it without your help. To join our efforts, email Amanda Ptashkin.
For more information about this collaboration, click here.