Peach Pulse Archive 2016
SHARE YOUR HEALTH CARE COVERAGE STORY!
Recently released HHS numbers show that health insurance enrollment in Georgia and across the country is going strong. The Affordable Care Act is what has made these coverage gains possible, yet Congress has prioritized repealing this landmark legislation without clarifying what would replace it. We need your stories and your voice to ensure our policymakers understand the consequences of repealing the law. Please consider submitting your story, or the stories of the people that you serve, of how the ACA has benefited you. Whether it’s being able to afford coverage through the availability of tax credits, not being denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition, or being able to stay on a parent’s plan until age 26 – we need to hear from you!
ANNUAL HEALTH CARE UNSCRAMBLED
Looking forward to 2017
Please join us for our 7th annual Health Care Unscrambled policy breakfast. We are excited to host former CMS Deputy Administrator and nationally renowned Medicaid expert, Cindy Mann. As our keynote speaker, she’ll walk through what advocates need to know about how the proposed changes to health care programs like Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and Marketplace coverage being discussed in Washington could impact Georgians, their families, and community. As always, our featured speaker will follow a bipartisan panel of legislators at the forefront of Georgia’s health care debates. Tickets are $50 (and could make a great holiday present!). We hope to see you there!
GHF ADDRESSES SOCIAL DETERMINANTS OF HEALTH
Health Beyond Health Care
In November GHF convened experts and advocates from a range of sectors including housing, criminal justice reform, education, and transportation for a discussion about social determinants and how we can break down silos to advance health. In conjunction with the convening, we released a new publication, Health Beyond Health Care: Opportunities to Advance Health by AddressingSocial Determinants.
You can find photos from the forum on our Facebook page.
RECORD BREAKING GEORGIA GIVES DAY!
GHF raised $4,380 on Georgia Gives Day!
We are overwhelmed by the over 70 donors who gave so generously on Georgia Gives Day. This year, the health care stakes are higher than ever, and many of the gains we have made over the past several years in health care coverage and access to care are at risk. We will continue to fight for quality, affordable health care for you, your friends and family, and all Georgians. Thank you for supporting our work!
ICYMI: GHF’S POST-ELECTION BLOG POST
If you unplugged post-election you might have missed our post-election analysis, What’s Next for Health Care Consumers.
The election results have the potential to dramatically shift the health care landscape nationally and here in Georgia. It’s still too soon to know precisely what policy changes will occur and what their impact will be, but advocacy at both the state and federal levels on behalf of Georgians who need access to quality, affordable health care has never been more important. Read more…
SUPPORT GHF WHILE YOU SHOP FOR THE HOLIDAYS!
Did you know that you can support GHF throughout the holiday season? Amazon Smile allows you to select a nonprofit to support. If you choose GHF, every time you shop through Amazon Smile a portion of your purchase goes to support our mission. Signing up is easy! Thank you for your continued support!
GHF IN THE NEWS
Exchange sign-ups in Georgia higher than last year’s
Georgia Health News | November 30, 2016
2016 elections already influencing Georgia policy
Augusta Chronicle | November 13, 2016
Georgia Republican could be at center of effort to undo Obamacare
AJC | November 10, 2016
How will a Trump presidency affect health care in Georgia?
Georgia Health News | November 9, 2016
This August, GHF invited both advocates and enrollment assisters to the second annual Getting Georgia Covered summit. Bringing these two groups together was the first step in fostering ongoing conversations and partnerships to ensure that health coverage translates into meaningful access to care for Georgians. Through the summit, GHF collected feedback and input for a report that highlights how assisters and advocates can team up for consumers. We invite you to read and share Collaborating for Consumers: How Assisters and Advocates Can Inform Policy, in which you will find opportunities and best practices for collaboration to achieve our shared goals.
GHF RECEIVES COMPETITIVE GRANT AWARD
We are proud to announce that GHF has been awarded a grant from the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. The Foundation works to connect the passions of philanthropists with the purposes of nonprofits. Awards were given through a highly competitive process and we are excited about this partnership as we continue to work to ensure quality, affordable health care for all Georgians. Read the Foundation’s press release.
DID YOU KNOW…
Uninsured, low-income women often face financial barriers to receiving recommended screenings for breast and cervical cancer, and in Georgia, minority women face additional breast cancer disparities. Women who live in expansion states are 25 percent more likely to get screened. Read more.
There is a growing recognition that factors outside the formal health care system such as safe and affordable housing, access to transportation, and criminal justice reform also impact the health of individuals, families, and communities. Join GHF to discuss how health intersects with these sectors and how advocates from across sectors can work together for policy change.
Please join us for our seventh annual Health Care Unscrambled breakfast. Each January we bring together legislators and advocates to discuss the health care issues facing Georgians and how this legislative session might address them. This year’s event includes special national speaker, Cindy Mann, former Deputy Administrator and Director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and a discussion of the upcoming session with a bi-partisan panel of legislators. This event will be held at the Georgia Freight Depot; tickets are $50. Sponsorship opportunities are available.
Go to event page.
GEORGIA GIVES DAY IS JUST A FEW WEEKS AWAY!
TODAY IS THE START OF OPEN ENROLLMENT!
A NIGHT TO REMEMBER: THE 2016 CONSUMER HEALTH IMPACT AWARDS
Thank you to everyone who joined us!
Last week’s 2016 Consumer Health Impact Awards was a truly wonderful event. We enjoyed celebrating Linda Smith Lowe Health Advocacy Award winner Tim Sweeney who flew in from Oregon for the event. Carole Maddux reminded us what selflessness really is. And both Senator P.K. Martin and Representative Stacey Abrams showed us what can happen when our policymakers work together for the benefit of all Georgians.
DID YOU KNOW…
They’re working in some of Georgia’s most important economic sectors, such as construction, transportation, education, and retail. Lower-wage workers are less likely to have access to affordable health coverage through their jobs than workers at higher-wage jobs. Closing the coverage gap will increase health coverage for hundreds of thousands of workers without job-based coverage and is a smart investment in hard-working people who enable Georgia to prosper. Share this infographic to spread the word!
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
As we approach the 2017 legislative session, we have the opportunity to close the coverage gap and ensure that some becomes all. Check out our new video about the Georgians stuck in the coverage gap and our opportunity to close it.
We’re asking that you be a part of the movement and contribute $25 to our campaign to close the coverage gap. Your contribution will allow us to travel across the state, meeting with and raising up the voices of Georgians in the gap. It will fund our media efforts so that everyone, from Blue Ridge to Bainbridge, will know that these people can’t wait. The time to close the coverage gap is now.
GHF & Consumer Assistance
Although we are primarily a health advocacy organization, GHF has provided direct enrollment services to Georgians in the last three open enrollment periods. Last year, GHF primarily focused on more complex consumer cases such as resolving coverage issues with the Marketplace and insurance providers, payment issues, tax filing and reconciliation issues, and issues with supplemental documents. How did it go? Read more in Pranay’s blog.
Partnering with Enroll America
GHF is now several weeks into our training partnership with Enroll America. GHF was selected as the first organization, nationally, to participate this year in the Leadership Academy in a train-the-trainer model. Read more about what we’re doing here.
A Conversation with Author Daniel Dawes
October 25, 2016, 6:00 – 8:00 PM
RiRa, 1080 Peachtree St. NE
For a second installment in our book discussion and networking series, we’re meeting with Daniel Dawes, author of 150 Years of Obamacare.
Attorney Daniel Dawes is a nationally recognized leader in the health equity movement and has led numerous efforts to address health policy issues impacting vulnerable, underserved, and marginalized populations. Dawes was instrumental in shaping the Affordable Care Act and through that experience has come to write 150 Years of Obamacare. The book provides a comprehensive and unprecedented review of the health equity movement and little-known leadership efforts that were crucial to passing important public policies.
Go to event page.
It is that time of year! We hope you’ll join us again for Health Care Unscrambled as we look ahead at the 2017 legislative session. Stay tuned for more about our speakers and panelists!
Go to event page.
GHF PRESENTS AT COMMUNITY CATALYST’S ANNUAL SOUTHERN HEALTH PARTNERS CONVENING
This September, Meredith was asked to present at Community Catalyst’s Southern Health Partners convening. She covered the passage of SB 302, a bill passed in the 2016 legislative session requiring, among other things, that health insurance provider directories be accurate. Wondering how it happened? Check out our new video, How A Bill Becomes Law (For Real).
IN THE NEWS
Augusta hospitals, clinics providing better care
The Augusta Chronicle | September 27
Georgia again ranks high in rate of uninsured
Georgia Health News | September 13
Hall residents lose insurance options as providers pull out of Affordable Care Act
Gainesville Times | September 12
Georgia’s big business key to health care challenge
Marietta Daily Journal | September 7
Task force unveils options to cover uninsured in Georgia | Georgia Health News
Georgia Chamber pitches conservative-friendly blueprint for Medicaid expansion | AJC
Ga. Chamber Releases Plan for Expanding Health Care Access | WABE
DID YOU KNOW…
Did you know that not everyone with a low income qualifies for Medicaid in Georgia today? Georgia has very restrictive Medicaid eligibility guidelines; adults without dependent children do not qualify for Medicaid, regardless of their income. Here’s who qualifies:
- Elderly, blind, and disabled people with incomes below 75% of the federal poverty line (FPL) – $13,200 for an elderly couple
- Parents with minor children with annual incomes below 38% FPL or $7,600 for a family of three
- Pregnant women with incomes below 225% FPL, or $26,500 for an individual
- Children are eligible for Medicaid and Peachcare at varying incomes levels as they age, and one in two Georiga kids is covered by those programs
If that was new information for you, share the infographic to the left on social media to spread the word.
POSTCARDS FOR COVERAGE
Who doesn’t love to get mail?
and age, but it still holds a lot of meaning to most people. If someone took the time to write you a letter to ask you to do something, wouldn’t that get your attention? Now imagine if you got multiple letters asking you to do something for your family, friends, and neighbors. That’s exactly what happened for a majority of Georgia’s state Senate and House members. In July, we mailed out over 1,100 postcards asking our legislators to close Georgia’s coverage gap. Read more about the postcard project here. If you haven’t signed the petition yet, it’s not too late! You can add your name here.
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE – STUDY COMMITTEES
Some of the most pressing and contentious health and insurance issues facing Georgians will be front and center during legislative study committee meetings this fall. Below are the committees in which GHF will be actively engaged on the advocacy and policy fronts:
Senate Study Committee on Surprise Billing Practices (SR 974)
This study committee is charged with assessing laws to protect consumers against surprise billing.
Senate Study Committee on Premium Assistance(SR 1056)
The committee will closely examine models and policies for premium assistance programs as an alternative to Medicaid expansion and is anticipated to be a forum for a robust discussion about policy options to close the coverage gap.
Senate Study Committee on Opioid Abuse (SR 1165)
This study committee will look at legislative approaches Georgia can take to stem the rise of opioid addiction and related overdose deaths.
For more on these and other study committees, check out Meredith’s blog post.
GHF PRESENTS AT THE NAIC SUMMER MEETING
GHF’s Executive Director Cindy Zeldin attended the summer meeting of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) last week in her capacity as a consumer representative to the NAIC. Cindy presented information on Georgia’s provider directory legislation (SB 302) on a panel during the meeting’s Consumer Liaison session. The consumer representatives as a group also released a new policy paper on prescription drug access and affordability, Promoting Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs: Policy Analysis and Consumer Recommendations for State Policymakes, ConsuemrAdvocates, and Health Care Stakeholders. Read more about the meeting and report in Cindy’s blog.
GET TO KNOW OUR AWARDEES
For more than 10 years Tim set the standard for reliable and responsible health policy analysis in Georgia. His insights and analysis equipped Georgia’s health advocacy community with the information needed to be a strong voice for consumers. Tim will be awarded the Linda Smith Lowe Health Advocacy Award. More.
Carole lives and breathes health care access through her work leading Good Samaritan Health & Wellness Center in Pickens County. She provides a clear, moral voice for systemic change in health care, speaking out on behalf of Medicaid expansion and other important public policies. Carole will receive the Community Impact Award.More.
Rep. Stacey Abrams
As Minority Leader, Rep. Abrams leads her caucus in its efforts to enact legislation across a range of complex issues, always making time for health care. A tireless champion of Medicaid expansion, Rep. Abrams will receive the Powerhouse Policymaker Award. More.
Sen. P.K. Martin
Sen. Martin’s SB 302 is a groundbreaking piece of legislation that sets basic standards for provider directories and protections for consumers who rely on them. A second term legislator who isn’t afraid to take on complicated issues, Sen. Martin will receive the Powerhouse Policymaker Award. More.
Tickets are now available! RSVP here.
GEORGIA’S EMERGING OPPORTUNITY TO TURN THE TIDE ON SUBSTANCE USE
Substance use prevention should be at the forefront of the minds of Georgia policymakers as they convene the Opioid Abuse Senate study committee (SR 1165) to identify strategies to address the opioid epidemic in the upcoming months. Substance use can oftentimes be prevented and reduced through a public health approach such as SBIRT – screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment. As part of our advocacy and policy efforts to make the case for greater use of SBIRT, GHF and the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse commissioned a fiscal analysis of the costs and benefits of supporting SBIRT through Medicaid. Stay tuned for the release of the full report and white paper outlining key findings.
PARTNERING TO COVER KIDS
Despite a sharp drop in the rate of uninsured children since 2014, Georgia still has 189,000 uninsured children. Their families are without the financial protection that comes with coverage. To address this need, people who regularly work with children need to be aware of the importance of health coverage to children and have the resources they need to connect kids and families with coverage quickly and easily.
That’s why GHF partnered with the Georgia Departments of Education and Public Health to conduct a webinar called “Covering Kids.” Read more about the webinar and the CEU credits available for nurses.
This month, GHF released our new enrollment report, Getting Georgia Covered: What We Can Learn from Consumer and Assister Experiences During the Third Open Enrollment Period. Inside the report you’ll find:
- Key themes in consumer and assister experiences during the 2016 open enrollment period
- Best practices for outreach, enrollment, and reaching eligible Georgians who remain uninsured
- Policy opportunities to increase enrollment, improve access to care, and address affordability issues
Health advocates, service providers, and enrollment assisters combined forces this month for a day of learning, sharing and planning at our second annual Getting Georgia Covered summit. From more about the event and speakers, click here. For event photos, check out our Facebook photo album!
Task force unveils options to cover uninsured in Georgia
Georgia Health News | August 31, 2016
Blue Cross To Be Sole Obamacare Insurer In Most Ga. Counties
WABE | August 30, 2016
State accepts new hike in Blue Cross exchange premiums
Georgia Health News | August 23, 2016
Blue Cross may bump up rates on Georgia insurance exchange
Georgia Health News | August 19, 2016
Aetna Latest Insurer To Leave Georgia’s Insurance Exchange
WABE | August 17, 2016
Another big defection from Georgia insurance exchange
Georgia Health News | August 16, 2016
Aetna pulls out of Obamacare exchanges in Georgia, 10 other states
Georgia Report | August 16, 2016
HOW WE THINK ABOUT HEALTH
At GHF, we have historically spent much of our time and energy on ‘traditional’ issues in health care – health insurance, access to care, costs to consumers, and health care quality and value. But we all know there’s so much more to health than that. Factors like education, housing, criminal justice and corrections, and transportation all impact our health and well-being. These factors are called social determinants of health.
This year, GHF is launching a new project to bring together stakeholders and advocates from across sectors to identify promising policy initiatives that can address the social determinants of health. Read more about the project here.
ADVANCING HEALTH EQUITY FOR LGBT GEORGIANS
Together, we are working to help Georgians who have faced discrimination in health care report it so we can help stop it from happening again. Learn more about this project and initiative here.
If you believe you have been discriminated against, you can file a complaint online with the Office for Civil Rights. Please also tell us about your experience so we can help you navigate the complaint process and identify systemic issues that should be addressed through public policy. Want to stay up-to-date on this project and issues impacting the health care of LGBT Georgians? Let Anna know and we’ll keep you posted!
A WIN FOR GEORGIA HEALTH CARE CONSUMERS
Two weeks ago, the DOJ announced they will file suit to block both the Aetna-Humana and Anthem-Cigna health insurance mergers. Earlier this month, GHF released a policy report, Proceed with Caution: Proposed Health Insurance Mergers Could Harm Georgia Consumers, which details Georgia’s current health insurance market and how these mergers could decrease competition and access to care while increasing prices. Read more about what this means and check out Georgia Health News’s coverage as well an interview with GHF Executive Director Cindy Zeldin on WABE’s A Closer Look
A GREAT CONVERSATION!
We had a great time on July 19th with friends and advocates talking with Mike King, author of A Spirt of Charity: Restoring the Bond Between America and Its Public Hospitals! The conversation centered around the past, present, and future of health care in America and in Georgia. You can find pictures from the event here.
ICYMI: CONSUMER HEALTH IMPACT AWARDEES ANNOUNCED!
Please join us in congratulating our four awardees!
We are thrilled to recognize this group of amazing consumer health care advocates! We encourage you to learn more about them, their commitment, and their impact. This year’s celebration will be on September 28th at Park Tavern. We hope you will join us as we honor their dedication and that of advocates across the state. RSVP
JOIN US FOR OUR 2ND ANNUAL ENROLLMENT SUMMIT
Please join us for a half-day summit focusing on opportunities for collaboration between health care advocates, providers, policy experts, community-based nonprofit organizations, and enrollment assisters to better reach our shared goals of improving health care coverage and access to care in Georgia. Confirmed speakers include:
- Dr. Pamela Roshell, Region IV Director, US Department of Health and Human Services
- Dr. Bill Custer, Director of the Center for Health Services Research and Associate Professor, J. Mack Robinson College of Business, Georgia State University
- Heather Bates, Deputy Director, Enrollment Assister Network, Families USA
- Sandy Anh, Associate Research Professor, Georgetown University Center on Health Insurance Reforms
This is a free event. Lunch will be provided. RSVP
We are excited to announce that we have been selected to be a part of the Enroll America Get Covered Academy – Leadership Track! The Leadership Track will focus on expanding our knowledge of best practices for outreach, enrollment, and reaching the remaining uninsured. Additionally, GHF will be the only organization in the Academy that is participating in the “train-the-trainer” curriculum. This specialized training will allow GHF staff to be trained on Enroll America’s Get Covered Academy topics and best practices to ultimately impart this knowledge to enrollment assisters throughout the state. Stay tuned for further updates on how we will take advantage of this opportunity and thank you to Enroll America for your support!
IN THE NEWS
A Closer Look
Rose Scott and Jim Burress | WABE
As feds file suit over insurance deals, Georgia postpones hearing
Andy Miller | Georgia Health News
Laura Colbert | Georgia Health NewsMORE >
CLOSING THE COVERAGE GAP UPDATE
It’s been an exciting month for Close the Gap advocates!
We are pleased to see that several of Georgia’s leaders have expressed to the press that they are willing to take a second look at closing Georgia’s coverage gap. We hope to work with our state leaders in the coming months to build further support and to find a solution that works for all Georgians. Below you’ll find a few links to articles covering the conversation happening at the Gold Dome.
Louisiana’s expanding Medicaid, Georgia should too
Flagpole | June 22
Task force aims to reshape Georgia stance on health coverage
Georgia Health News | June 21
KEEP THE MOMENTUM GOING
1,000 names is a strong showing – but we need more!
DON’T MISS THESE UPCOMING EVENTS!
July 19 6:30 – 8:30 PM
The Warren City Club
Health care advocates and friends – please join us for a book signing and conversation with Atlanta journalist Mike King, author of A Spirt of Charity: Restoring the Bond Between America and its Public Hospitals. His new book explores the role of public hospitals in our health system, weaving Georgia’s history – and the history of Grady – into this national story. In advance of the event, our executive director, Cindy Zeldin sat down with King to talk about his book. Read their conversation here.
We will provide appetizers and there will be a cash bar. This is a free event. RSVP here.
August 16 8:30 AM – 2:00 PM
Sloppy Floyd Building
Please join us for our second annual enrollment summit. This year we are focusing on strengthening relationships between the health policy community and the enrollment assistance community. The summit will include speakers from the Georgetown Center for Health Insurance Reforms, Families USA, and Region IV HHS. Learn more about the agenda and RSVP here.
September 28 6:30 PM
Tickets are now on sale for the 2016 Consumer Health Impact Awards! Three awards recipients have so far been revealed; join us in congratulating them!
- Community Impact Award – Carole Maddux, Executive Director, CEO of the Good Samaritan Health & Wellness Center
- Powerhouse Policymaker – Senator P.K. Martin
- Powerhouse Policymaker – House Minority Leader, Representative Stacey Abrams
Only July 11th we’ll be revealing the recipient of the Linda Smith Lowe Health Advocate Award, so make sure you’re following us on Facebook and Twitter! You can preview some of the silent auction items here and RSVP here.
OUT AND ABOUT WITH GHF
This June, we joined advocates from other states in Philadelphia for the Community Catalyst Substance Use Disorders Advocacy Convening. The three-day conference gave us valuable insight for the next phase of our advocacy and policy efforts to expand the use of Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) through the activation of Medicaid codes for youth. Activating Medicaid codes would allow providers to be reimbursed for the time they spend conducting SBIRT and would encourage greater use of the tool. Read more about this project and the convening here.
Georgia’s many summer festivals provide a unique opportunity for GHF and our partners to get out in the community and talk with people about how health policy impacts their lives and how they can be advocates. On June 11th and 12th, we continued our summer festival outreach with an information and education booth at the Peachtree Corners Festival. Read more about the festival and our conversations with people in the coverage gap here.
Ebenezer Baptist Church is a cornerstone of advocacy and social justice in Atlanta. On June 20th, Laura Cobert, Director of Outreach & Partnerships, was invited to join their Women’s Season celebrations to talk about the importance fo closing Georgia’s coverage gap. She spoke to a crowd fo about 60 women on a day when the theme was health and self-care. To read more about the event and Laura’s presentation, click here.
IN THE NEWS
Task force aims to reshape Georgia stance on health coverage
Georgia Health News| June 21
HEALTH CARE UPDATES
On May 13, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a final rule implementing Section 1557 of the ACA, an important milestone in the movement towards health equity. Section 1557 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in all health programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance through HHS, are administered through HHS, or are established under Title 1 of the ACA. Notably, Section 1557 marks the first time that sex discrimination in health care is prohibited and clarifies that gender identity and sex stereotyping are included in this definition. For more check out this blog post.
The Georgia Department of Insurance will hold hearings this summer on proposed health insurance company mergers that, if approved as requested, could limit choice and increase costs for Georgia health care consumers. Georgia regulators have the opportunity through these hearings to assess the merits of these mergers and to place conditions on them that can mitigate negative outcomes for consumers, but advocacy is needed to accomplish this. Read on for more about mergers, how GHF plans to engage in the hearing process on behalf of Georgia health care consumers, and how you can weigh in.
The weather is heating up and the official start of summer is just around the corner, but here at GHF we’re already looking ahead to one of the hallmarks of fall: open enrollment! Earlier this spring, new renewal policies and consumer shopping tools were announced and health insurance plans released their initial rate filings, giving us early insights into what we might expect in the upcoming open enrollment period: November 1, 2016 – January 31, 2017. But while we’re busy preparing for OE4, we also know that health insurance enrollment happens year-round. Read on for more about new rules for special enrollment periods, rate filings, and how to stay up to date on all things enrollment.
THE IMPACT OF THE CONSUMER VOICE
Does a strong consumer voice make a difference in health policy outcomes? At GHF, consumer engagement is woven into each of our initiatives to bring the needs and voices of Georgia health care consumers into the public policy process. Over the past two years, one of our top priorities has been maximizing health insurance enrollment and ensuring that once enrolled, consumers can access the care they need. Our work in this area, along with that of similar efforts in seventeen states, was recently evaluated by Mathematica. The evaluation focused on the activities and outcomes of the eighteen Consumer Voices for Coverage projects funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Learn more about the evaluation findings here.
COVER GEORGIA UPDATES
This month, members of the Cover Georgia Coalition met for a half-day meeting to discuss what advocates can do to make sure that Georgia closes its coverage gap in 2017. If your organization is interested in joining the coalition, reach out to Laura Colbert. If you are an individual advocate who’d like to join the movement here are three ways you can get involved:
- Share an infographic on social media about the coverage gap
- Sign the petition to close the coverage gap
The Warren City Club
July 19, 2016
6:30 – 8:30 PM
Health care advocates and friends – please join GHF for a book signing and conversation with Atlanta journalist Mike King, author of A Spirit of Charity: Restoring the Bond Between America and Its Public Hospitals. His new book explores the role of public hospitals in our health system, weaving Georgia’s history – and the history of Grady – into this national story. You can read more about his book here. We look forward to an evening of lively conversation about the role of safety net hospitals here in Georgia and throughout America. We will provide a light dinner and there will be a cash bar. This is a free event. RSVP here.
Please join us for our second annual Consumer Health Impact Awards! This event shines a spotlight on advocates, community leaders, and state policymakers working to improve health in Georgia through service and advocacy. RSVP for the event here.
We will be announcing 2016 awardees in the coming weeks – look out for that announcement!
IN THE NEWS
Some rates in Georgia insurance exchange could soar in 2017
Andy Miller, Georgia Health News
Ruling against Obamacare a win for GOP, but impact for Georgia on hold
Tamar Hallerman, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
GHF IN THE COMMUNITY
GHF’s Cindy Zeldin and Laura Colbert presented at the Healthcare Georgia Foundation’s 2016 Connections conference. They shared GHF organizational strengths that foster and support the development of strategic partnerships and cooperation. Check out Laura’s blog post about the conference for resources and more!
On Saturday, April 21st, GHF’s Whitney Griggs spoke to the Fulton County League of Women Voters about health care issues addressed in the 2016 legislative session. She highlighted bills focused on health care disparities and the coverage gap.
GOVERNOR DEAL SIGNS BIPARTISAN PROVIDER DIRECTORY LEGISLATION
Last week, Governor Deal signed SB 302 into law! GHF advocated throughout the Legislative Session for this bipartisan bill to improve the accuracy and usability of provider directories. SB 302 is an important step towards making provider directories the accurate and functional tool that consumers need to make the best health care decisions for themselves and their families. Georgia’s proactive move is being noted by national partners – check out the coverage!
Community Catalyst – Protecting Health Care Consumers in the Peach State
For more information and resources on provider directories, check out our blog post.
NEW AT HEALTHYFUTUREGA.ORG
We know you care about advocating for a healthy future – it’s why you signed up for our emails! We also know you’re busy. So we’ve been working on ways you can learn, engage, and participate in the way that works best for you! One such avenue is through our infographics page. There you’ll find infographics on the issues you care about and easy buttons to share them on social media! If you’re on Pinterest, you can also follow our infographics board.
This past weekend, GHF had a table at the Inman Park Festival. Whitney and Laura were on hand to talk about the coverage gap and other GHF priorities. We collected dozens of close the gap postcards and gave out goodies to those that stopped by! Thank you to our partners at Feminist Women’s Health Center for joining us at the festival!
If you weren’t able to attend our April 5th webinar, Changes in health Care and Policy in the 2016 Georgia Legislative Session, don’t worry, you can watch it here. The webinar reviews bills, resolutions, and budgetary items discussed during the 2016 Legislative Session that may impact Georgia’s health care system and health care consumers. Have questions that didn’t get answered? Email Laura!
American Diabetes Association – Georgia Chapter
GHF is excited to partner with the Georgia chapter of the American Diabetes Association to support health advocacy work that can improve the lives of people affected by diabetes. Advocacy collaborations involve participation in the effort to pass SB 302, expansion of the American Diabetes Association’s Safe at School training program, and a Diabetes Advocacy Day at the Capitol in 2017. For information on involvement with the American Diabetes Association please contact Rebecca Drake.
The mission of the Georgia chapter of the American Diabetes Association is to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes in the state.
SAVE THE DATE: SEPTEMBER 28, 2016
We had a blast celebrating advocacy and health advances in Georgia with you last year and we can’t wait to do it again! Voting is now open for the Linda S. Lowe Health Advocacy Award and for the Community Impact Award. Know a person or organization whose work deserves to be recognized? Nominate them today! If you’re interested in sponsoring you can learn more here. RSVP here.
GHF WELCOMES NEW BOARD MEMBERS
Dr. Deep Shah, MD, MSc is a senior internal medicine resident at Emory University School of Medicine/Grady Memorial Hospital. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Georgia, where he won a Rhodes Scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in comparative social policy at Oxford. Deep then went to Harvard for medical school. He has worked as a policy fellow for Senator Johnny Isakson and Governor Sonny Perdue. He serves on the American College of Physicians’ Medical Practice and Quality Committee and Committee and Council of Resident/Fellow Members. After residency, he plans to marry his interests in primary care, health administration, and public policy.
Melanie recently retired from John Deere, where she worked in several diverse capacities, including Director and then Vice President of the Agri Services division of the company. Melanie led HR teams in Mergers and Acquisitions, integrating new businesses into John Deere, and was then appointed to lead a newly created HR area of Change Management, where she and her team designed and developed processes and tools that enabled aligned teamwork and supported individual and team performance improvement. She then returned to HR Operations, leading a team providing HR expertise and leadership to all the corporate functional areas of the company. Melanie also served as a Master Coach at John Deere, guiding leaders in their career objectives. She was proud to serve six years as Vice Chair of the Board for Community Health Care, Inc., an organization that provides excellent, affordable in-patient medical, dental and behavioral health care to over 35,000 patients annually.
IN THE NEWS
Study says United exit will hurt some exchange enrollees
April 19 | Georgia Health News
State document hints at downside to insurance mergers in Georgia
April 13 | Georgia Health News
The 2016 Legislative Session has Ended
The 2016 Legislative Session has come and gone. If you’re still catching up on everything that happened, check out our legislative tracking page to see what passed, what didn’t, and what’s been signed by the Governor thus far. You can also find our video series, Consumer Health Advocacy Today (CHAT), on ourYouTube page.
Click here to read a letter from our Executive Director, Cindy Zeldin, as she reflects on the session and what’s ahead for Georgia’s health care consumers.
If you missed our webinar earlier today on changes in health care policy in the 2016 legislative session, join the Georgia Health Action Network to receive the recording.
Closing Georgia’s Coverage Gap
Working together to close the coverage gap
GHF and the Cover Georgia Coalition are gathering stories and signatures! Stories like Tracy’s help to put a human face to Georgia’s decision not to expand Medicaid. If you fall into the coverage gap, your story can make a difference in convincing our lawmakers to close the gap. To share your story, email Whitney.
If you’d like to show your support for closing the gap you can sign this petition to close the coverage gap and share it with your friends, family, and social network.
In addition to the petition, GHF & Cover Georgia are collecting post cards, like the one above, to show lawmakers that their constituents support closing the gap. If your organization would like hard copies of postcards, like the one above, to help collect signatures in your outreach, let us know! We’re also available to give presentations on the coverage gap and what it means for all Georgians. For more information about presentations, email Laura.
Save the Date!
The Consumer Health Impact Awards are back!
After an amazing first year, we are thrilled to announce the date for the second annual Consumer Health Impact Awards! Nominations for this year’s awardees start soon and now is the time to start thinking about who should take home the 2016 Linda Smith Lowe Advocacy and the Community Impact Award! Already know you want to go? You can RSVP here. Sponsorship opportunities can be found here.
GHF Welcomes New Staff Member
Sarah Dobra – Director of Development & Operations
GHF is excited to welcome Sarah to the GHF team! In her role she will provide operational, development, planning and evaluation, and editorial support to ensure that we’re functioning well across programs and projects. Prior to joining GHF, Sarah was the Disparities Manager and Cancer Care Delivery Research Program Coordinator at a community cancer center in Savannah, Georgia. In this position Sarah successfully leveraged community partners to support cancer prevention and screening activities to address cancer disparities as part of a larger community network. Sarah obtained her law and master’s in Public Health degrees at Tulane University and holds a B.A. from the University of Oregon. Sarah can be reached at email@example.com – join us in welcoming her!
GHF in the News
Bill aims to erase errors in insurers’ medical directories
by Andy Miller, Georgia Health News
“Directory errors can be common. For example, a “secret shopper” survey done by Georgians for a Healthy Future found numerous errors in four “silver-level” HMOs in Atlanta that the consumer group examined. The survey found that one in five primary care doctors listed as participating in a plan’s network were not actually in that network, Cindy Zeldin, executive director of the consumer group, told GHN on Wednesday…” Read more.MORE >
Getting What You Pay For
GHF and Georgia Watch host policy forum on network adequacy, surprise out-of-network billing, and provider directory accuracy.
Early in February, GHF and Georgia Watch partnered to host policymakers, stakeholders, and advocates at a policy panel on important health insurance consumer protections. The event opened with remarks from Senator Dean Burke and included presentations from Consumers Union’s Julie Silas, Georgia Watch’s Beth Stephens, and GHF’s Meredith Gonsahn. If you missed the event, you can find presentations and materials below!
Julie Silas’s presentation: Finding Policy Solutions for Provider Directories and Surprise Medical Bills
Meredith Gonsahn’s presentation: Improving Network Adequacy and Provider Directory Standards in Georgia
Who was there? Check out the photo album.
New Policy Briefs
Ensuring Access to Care: Setting and Enforcing Network Adequacy Standards
When consumers enroll in a health insurance plan, they gain access to a network of medical providers. This network must be adequate to ensure that consumers enrolled in the plan have reasonable access to all covered benefits. The goals of this policy brief are to:
-explain the importance of network adequacy for access to care
-outline current network adequacy standards in Georgia
-summarize recent policy activity around network adequacy
-set forth consumer-oriented principles for network adequacy standards in Georgia
-provide policy recommendations to achieve network adequacy in Georgia.
Ensuring Access to Care: Improving Provider Directory Accuracy and Usability
Provider directories are the primary tool available to consumers to determine whether the plan they are selecting has a narrow or broad network and to identify which providers are in their plan. As such,these directories should be accurate, up-to-date, and should truly function as a tool. The Georgia Legislature has taken the first steps to addressing these issues through SB 302, the Provider Directory Improvement Act. The bill passed unanimously in the Senate and is now in the House Insurance Committee for consideration.The goals of this policy brief are to:
-explain the role provider directories play as a tool for consumer decision-making
-describe current provider directory provision in Georgia
-describe common problems with provider directories
-outline recent policy activity around provider directories
-highlight other state examples of provider directory improvments
GHF and partners take to the Gold Dome!
Whitney and Laura have been spending extra time at the Capitol lately with our coalition partners. Many organizations host lobby days during the legislative session when grassroots advocates can come to the Capitol to make legislators aware of issues that they care about and advocate for relevant legislation. Our partner organizations have invited GHF to attend many lobby days to talk to their attendees about closing Georgia’s coverage gap and other items on our policy agenda. Whitney and Laura have also provided coverage gap lapel stickers so this issue is visible to all people in the Capitol, especially legislators. Thank you to all our partners for sharing your lobby days with us and helping to foster new coverage gap advocates!
GEAR Update: Special Enrollment Period Changes
At the beginning of last year’s open enrollment period, GHF created GEAR, the Georgia Enrollment Assister Resource Network (GEAR). GEAR is a coalition of enrollment assisters and those closely involved in the enrollment process. Now the open enrollment is passed, GEAR is turning to tax time and special enrollment periods (SEPs). Last month, CMS announced the new special enrollment confirmation process. Georgians will now be required to provide sufficient proof to the marketplace to determine their SEP eligibility. Failure to provide supporting documents may lead to the denial of coverage. At GHF we advocate for policies that make enrollment in health insurance more inclusive and fight policies that put up unnecessary barriers. We want to hear from you about this! If you’re an enrollment assister and are experiencing trouble enrolling consumers during a special enrollment period, let us know! If you’d like to join the GEAR network, you can do that here.
GHF Welcomes New Board Members
Sylvia returns to the GHF’s board of directors. She is an associate clinical professor at Georgia State University and is director of the Health Law Partnership (HeLP), a medical-legal community collaboration among Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the Atlanta Legal Aid Society and the College of Law at Georgia State. Caley has extensive experience in health care, health law and policy, and poverty law, and her work-related interests have centered on the intersection of health and poverty. She is a member of the Grady Health System Ethics Committee and the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Bioethics and public Affairs Committee. Caley teaches courses on health policy and legislation and clinical skills. She also lectures extensively on legal issues affecting child health and well-being
GHF in the News
Closer Look – WABE
59:18: Cindy Zeldin, executive directory og GHF, expamines current state legislation related to healthcare and health policy.
A small, surprising step toward a big change in health coverage? – Georgia Health News
“The bill may not get very far this year, with time running out in the General Assembly session and without the fiscal impact yet studied. But a Senate health committee broke new ground by holding a legislative hearing on a proposal, SB 368, that would create a Medicaid expansion alternative in Georgia…”
ACA enrollment tops 587,000 in Ga., but insurers nervous over sign up rules – Georgia Health News
“More than 580,000 Georgians signed up for coverage in the insurance exchange during the third open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act…”
Bipartisan Cooperation on Health Care in Georgia, But Not Medicaid Expansion – Atlanta Progressive News
“Medicaid expansion may be dead for the year, but there appears to be bipartisan cooperation on other health policy issues..”
INTRODUCING THE GEORGIA HEALTH ACTION NETWORK (GHAN)
What is GHAN?
GHAN is your way to keep up with and take action on the health care policy issues you care about. By signing up to be a part of GHAN you’ll receive action alerts with things you can do, like sign a petition, share an infographic with your social network, or contact your legislator to raise awareness and advocate for important consumer health issues. To join GHAN, email Anna.
The Georgia Legislative Session is in full swing
It is a short session this year and it’s amazing we’re already almost a month in! GHF is at the Capitol every day, advocating for consumer health care protections. To see a list of the bills we’re tracking,click here. We’re very excited that Senator P.K. Martin has introduced a bill, SB 302, that would increase transparency and the usability of health insurance provider directories. The bill has strong bipartisan support and is scheduled for a hearing Monday, so stay tuned for that update! Conversations also continue around surprise medical bills, network adequacy, and closing the coverage gap.
Read the Week One update.
Read the Week Two update.
Read the Week Three update.
If you’re more of a visual person, you might want to check out our video series, CHAT (or Consumer Health Advocacy Today) where we talk to policy makers and experts about what’s going on under the Gold Dome.
OPEN ENROLLMENT ENDS
GHF helped over 100 people get covered
Open enrollment formally concluded on January 31, 2016 and 587,845 Georgians enrolled in the Marketplace (healthcare.gov).
Throughout open enrollment, GHF worked to get Georgians enrolled through direct service and the creation of GEAR (or the Georgia Enrollment Assister Resource Network). GEAR is the new central hub of resources for Georgia’s enrollment assisters and community partners who work with consumers to educate them on their health and health care coverage options. If you are interested in learning more about GEAR or want to sign up for the newsletter, email Whitney. Additionally, during this open enrollment period we have provided enrollment assistance to 78 applicants and their families, totaling 141 Georgians. Of those, 91% received financial assistance.
WHY THE COVERAGE GAP MATTERS
On January 19th, GHF’s Outreach and Engagement Manager, Whitney Griggs, was in Savannah talking to people who fell into the coverage gap. One of them was Henry. Henry had been working as a super heavy hauler, but had to stop working in 2008 to take care of his diabetes and other health issues. He intended to return to driving once his health problems were under control, but he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and could not return to driving or working. He is currently managing several severe health issues, including diabetes, blood clots in his lungs and legs, thryroid cancer, and COPD. Although, he is able to get some of his care from St. Mary’s, he has many unpaid medical bills. He must rely on his elderly mother to help pay some of his costs, which he says is difficult because she lives on a fixed income. Stories like Henry’s highlight the need for Georgia to close its coverage gap to make sure all Georgians are able to get the care they need. If you or someone you know has a story of being uninsured that you would like to share, please contact Whitney.
6TH ANNUAL HEALTH CARE UNSCRAMBLED
Starting the Year Off Right
There’s something wonderful about a room full of people talking about how to improve Georgians’ access to quality, affordable health care. No matter the path we advocate for, the end goal is the same. This year we hosted a bipartisan legislative panel that included Reps. Lee Hawkins and Debbie Buckner and Sens. Greg Kirk and Emanuel Jones. Following the legislative panel, two national experts, Sue Polis from Trust for America’s Health and Lynn Quincy from Consumers Union, spoke on emerging trends in health care policy. Check out this blog to see pictures from the event, read the media’s write up, and watch interviews with the panelists.
GHF IN THE NEWS
Last Call to Enroll for 2016 Insurance Under the Affordable Care Act
New York Times | January 29, 2016
Legislative panel reflects divide on Medicaid expansion
Georgia Health News | January 14, 2016
Rare metal: Where are the Platinum plans?
Georgia Health News | January 4, 2016