What’s New in Georgia
2012 Legislative Session Update
Fifteen days of the 2012 Legislative Session have passed. Last week, the House passed the Amended FY 2012 budget with several changes to the Governor’s proposal. Both the House and Senate are continuing to hold hearings throughout the week on the FY 2013 budget.
Health Insurance Exchange Stalls in Georgia
Georgia lags other states in progress towards establishing a health insurance exchange as authorized by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), despite the fact that Georgia stands to experience one of the largest drops in the uninsured as a result of the ACA reforms, according to an analysis by the Urban Institute. At our Health Care Unscrambled breakfast in January, a panel of Georgia policymakers discussed prospects for a health insurance exchange and indicated that exchange legislation would not move through the General Assembly in 2012. Nevertheless, Representative Pat Gardner has introduced HB 801 to establish a Georgia health insurance marketplace, or exchange. Please thank Representative Gardner for taking a stand on this important issue! For recent news articles on health insurance exchanges and Georgia, click here and here.
Modernizing Medicaid and PeachCare
The Department of Community Health recently released a long-anticipated Strategy Report from Navigant, the consulting firm hired to evaluate the state’s redesign options for Georgia’s Medicaid and PeachCare programs. The Strategy Report includes a national and Georgia-specific environmental scan of Medicaid and CHIP programs, as well as three delivery options for DCH to consider as it moves into the Procurement and Implementation Phases of the redesign process. To read DCH’s press release on the Navigant Report, click here. To read the report and appendices, click here.
The next part of the Recommendation Phase includes an analysis and evaluation of the Strategy Report with the goal of finalizing the redesign model by April 2012. DCH is soliciting feedback on the Strategy Report either through their Feedback Tool or by submitting a brief comment or question to MyOpinion@dch.ga.gov. The deadline for submitting detailed feedback, comments or questions is February 29, 2012, at 5 p.m. (ET).
In order to assist health care advocates as they respond to the Navigant report, Georgians for a Healthy Future has designed a mircosite to house all relevant information on this on-going process. Visit www.healthyfuturega.org/
Bump It Up a Buck
With the 2012 Legislative Session underway, the Bump it Up a Buck campaign is once again advocating for a $1 per pack increase in the state’s tobacco tax. Raising cigarette taxes is one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking, particularly among Georgia’s kids, and will raise important new revenue for the state. Georgians for a Healthy Future is proud to be a part of the Bump It Up a Buck coalition along with leading members the American Cancer Society, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the Cancer Action Network of the American Cancer Society, the Georgia Society of Clinical Oncology, and the Georgia Public Health Association. To learn more and to get involved, visit www.BumpItUpaBuck.org.
Update on Essential Health Benefits
Georgians for a Healthy Future is monitoring developments at the federal level that will impact benefits and consumer protections for new individual and small group health plans in Georgia beginning in 2014. In December, the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO), the division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services charged with implementing the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) related to private health insurance, released a bulletin on the essential health benefits (EHB) that all new plans will need to include.
The bulletin allows states to select the EHB for plans in their state from ten benchmark plan options. These include: (1) any of the three largest Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) plans by enrollment, (2) any of the three largest state employee health benefit plans by enrollment, (3) the largest plan by enrollment in any of the three largest small group insurance products offered in the state, or (4) the largest commercial non-Medicaid Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plan in the state.
Information about which plans these are in Georgia can be found here. Georgia has not yet made a benchmark selection from among these plans, and we are working to identify more specifics about the benefit packages within these plans. We will keep advocates informed as we learn more about this ongoing process. If you’re also monitoring developments around EHB, please share information with us so we can communicate it to a range of health care advocates.