"These gaps really make it so that Georgians can't afford needed health care. If they receive health care, they're left with medical debt, or they have to make really tough…
Who doesn’t love to get mail? A hand-written note from a friend? An invitation to a wedding or surprise birthday party? A post-card from a family member enjoying their vacation in an exotic locale? Getting personal mail is not something that happens much this day and age, but 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 more than email? Now imagine that you got multiple letters asking you to do something from your friends, family members, and neighbors. That’s exactly what happened for a majority of Georgia’s state Senate and House members.
In July, Georgians for a Healthy Future mailed out stacks of post-cards to Georgia’s state legislators. These were not any post-cards. These were the postcards that GHF, with the help of the Cover Georgia Coalition, had been collecting over the past few years asking legislators to close the coverage gap. These postcards were signed by Georgians all across the state and were collected through outreach events, online petitions, and even Facebook ads. We collected more than 1100 postcards and sent them to legislators in every corner of the state. Many postcards included handwritten notes to their legislator asking them to close the coverage gap to help themselves, their family members, and fellow Georgians.
It’s not often that constituents are able to feel like they can directly communicate with their elected officials and this postcard project was intended to help give everyday people a voice for a topic that was important to them. More than 300,000 Georgians fall into the coverage gap and are unable to get affordable health insurance. Often these Georgians go without coverage and regular medical care. Many Georgians want to fix this issue and took the time to let their legislators know that they support closing the coverage gap. These postcards will have an impact as state legislators hear from their constituents that they want all Georgians have access to quality, affordable health insurance.
We will continue collecting postcards and sending them to legislators as we get them. If you haven’t signed a postcard yet, you can still do so by signing our online petition.
2016 Linda Smith Lowe Health Advocacy Award: Tim Sweeney, Former Deputy Director & Health Policy Analyst Georgia Budget and Policy Institute
2016 Community Impact Award: Carole Maddux, Executive Director & CEO, Good Samaritan Health & Wellness Center
For more than ten years, Tim Sweeney 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. He dissected the state budget each year, decoding line items and formulas. Tim read studies and briefed us on their findings, helping us all connect the dots between data and the health care stories of individuals, families, and communities across our state. While we know he will continue to achieve great things throughout his career, the people of Oregon will now benefit from his expertise and commitment. For his decade of service in Georgia, we are proud to honor Tim with the Linda Smith Lowe Health Advocacy Award.
Carole Maddux lives and breathes health care access through her work leading Good Samaritan Health & Wellness Center in Pickens County. Under her leadership, Good Samaritan has recently transitioned to a federally qualified health center, is undergoing an expansion to better meet the community need, and is engaged in a local partnership to foster better collaboration locally. Carole also provides a clear, moral voice for systemic change in health care, speaking out on behalf of Medicaid expansion and other public policies that would expand coverage and increase access to care for all Georgians. For her leadership, commitment, and impact, we are proud to honor Carole with the Community Impact Award.
We hope you’ll join us on September 28th as we recognize Tim and Carole! RSVP
Harry Heiman & Abby Friedman
AIDS Healthcare Foundation
Cindy Zeldin & Doug Busk
Easter Seals Southern Georgia
Georgia Association for Primary Health Care
AbsoluteCARE Medical Center & Pharmacy
Georgia Charitable Care Network
Ilene Engel & Bob Arotsky
American Diabetes Association
Bo & Chris Hagler
Essig Gehl Consulting
Feminist Women’s Health Center
The GHF Staff
Jeff Cornett & Edward Fernandez-Villa
UGA College of Public Health
Voices for Georgia’s Children
2016 POWERHOUSE POLICYMAKER AWARDEES
Representative Stacey Abrams
Senator P.K. Martin
Please join us on September 28th as we recognize our 2016 Powerhouse Policymakers.
Representative Stacey Abrams, House Minority Leader
As House Minority Leader, Stacey Abrams leads her caucus in its efforts to enact legislation across a range of complex public policy issues. Despite a full plate, Leader Abrams always makes time for health care. Whether it is raising awareness with constituents about new health insurance opportunities available to them or tirelessly championing the need to close Georgia’s coverage gap by expanding Medicaid, leader Abrams has proven over and over again her determination to ensure every Georgian has a pathway to health coverage. For this steadfast commitment, we are honored to recognize her as a 2016 Powerhouse Policymaker.
Senator P.K. Martin, Senate Insurance Committee
Although only in his second legislative session, Sen. Martin is not one to back down from a challenge and isn’t afraid to take on complicated issues. Improving provider directory accuracy was one such topic. SB 302 is a groundbreaking piece of legislation that sets basic standards for directories and protections for consumers who rely on them. The bill has been recognized nationally as an important example of consumer protections. Sen. Martin has shown that he is someone who will fight for what he believes in and we are proud to recognize him as a 2016 Powerhouse Policymaker.
We hope you’ll join us on September 28th as we recognize Sen. Martin and Rep. Abrams! RSVP Here.
When you think about the things in your life that keep you healthy, what comes to mind? I think of how often I exercise, the food and drinks I put in my body, which I recommend using trying Lumitea skinny tea to help your digestive system, help with sleeping, maintaining my mental health by keeping stress low, and being socially connected to friends and family. Sometimes I would just prefer to have healthy meals delivered gold coast at my front door so I don´t have to cook and I have the satisfaction that it´s really good food, I could also use my time learning about bread machines from the Village Bakery so I can learn to do healthy food myself, like learn how to prepare fresh fish and other food. I also love to take care of my face so I use the elite eye serum to make sure I don´t have any bags under them If you like to exercise I recommend getting a waist training that will help you get fit followed by some good protein snacks for after the gym. I also like to use a pre workout before going to the gym and since I am really into organic right now, my go to is Black Wolf organic pre workout. None of these things are directly connected to what we traditionally think of as the health care system, yet they greatly impact my health. As you can see there´s many factors that have an impact on health, when it comes to stress there´s many ways you can get rid of it, an example is by taking care of yourself and having time to relax, you can check massage chairs expert where you will find many suggestions, you can also visit swedish massage darling harbour where you will get one of the most relaxing massages.
At Georgians for a Healthy Future, we have historically spent much of our time and energies on HIV Early Detection STD Testing | STDAware. Yet, as demonstrated above, there are many factors outside the healthcare system that greatly impact the health of Georgians, read this comparison which will give tons of helpful info. These factors are called social determinants of health, and can include education, housing, criminal justice and corrections, transportation, the built environment (the way we build communities, roads, and buildings), and more. Social determinants of health act on the population level to influence not just an individual’s health but the health of whole communities. For example, moldy or otherwise unhealthy housing can influence the rates of asthma among children in a community. A community with a variety of transportation options like bike lanes, safe sidewalks, and public transit may prompt higher rates of physical activity among its residents, which improves cardiovascular health, obesity, and mental health in the population. If you want to get to know how to cook to better your health I suggest to check http://beptruong.edu.vn/day-nau-an/ for more info.
This year, GHF is launching a new project, supported by the Healthcare Georgia Foundation, to bring together stakeholders and advocates from across sectors to identify promising policy initiatives that can address the social determinants of health. We are fostering relationships with and interviewing advocates and policy experts who work in other sectors to learn about their work and how it intersects with health. We are building on that with research to identify best practices from other states and promising initiatives in Georgia that could be expanded statewide with support from communities and policy makers. In the end, this work will result in policy recommendations for state policy makers, better connectivity among advocates across sectors, and a shared direction for health advocates and others.
We look forward to sharing our learnings and results with you as our work progresses. In the meantime, you can learn more about the social determinants of health with these resources:
- Beyond Health Care: The Role of Social Determinants in Promoting Health and Health Equity, Kaiser Family Foundation
- The Picture of Health, Urban Institute
- Why strengthening America’s Social Structures is Essential for Health, Community Catalyst
- Social Determinants of Health, Healthy People 2020
Today the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced they will file suit to block both the Aetna-Humana and Anthem-Cigna health insurance mergers. Georgia’s attorney general is listed as one of the plaintiffs in the Aetna-Humana case.
Earlier this week we 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 like what happened in California’s Health Insurance Quote, and access to care while increasing prices from many insurance companies, but it may not affect private online companies as InsurancePartnership.org and others.
In light of the DOJ’s announcement, the Georgia Department of Insurance is indefinitely postponing its review of the Aetna-Humana merger and has canceled next week’s hearing. This marks an important milestone victory for Georgia health care consumers and we will keep you posted on any future developments.
In this report, Georgians for a Healthy Future summarizes current insurance market concentration in Georgia, outlines the impact of mergers on premiums and access to health care providers, explains the role of regulators in approving mergers and Georgia’s review process, and provides policy recommendations to protect consumers.
Next week, public hearings will be held on the proposed Aetna-Humana insurance merger. GHF’s health policy analyst Meredith Gonsahn will provide testimony. If you are interested in attending,more details are available and if you have any questions about GHF’s public comments, please reach out to Meredith.
Georgia’s many summer festivals provide a unique opportunity for Georgians for a Healthy Future 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 & education booth at the Peachtree Corners Festival in Peachtree Corners. Our primary focus out in the community has been coverage gap education, but we also talked to attendees about our other priorities, including health insurance enrollment and youth substance use prevention. We also asked attendees who stopped by the table to sign postcards to show their legislators that they support closing the gap.
In addition to outreach, we collected stories of several Georgians who fall into the gap. One grandmother in her early 60s told us that she is taking care of her grandkids full-time and crossing her fingers that she doesn’t get sick before she becomes eligible for Medicare. All of the people that we spoke to that fell into the gap knew they were in the gap and why it exists, but were hopeful that Georgia’s lawmakers would do something soon to fix the problem.
The Cover Georgia coalition was well represented at the festival as well, and we want to give a special thanks to Feminist Women’s Health Center, Georgia Watch, and Hemophilia of Georgia for volunteering with us. If you’re interested in volunteering with us at upcoming festivals, please reach out to Whitney or Laura.
It’s been an exciting few weeks 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. By closing the gap, they would help not only hard-working Georgians but also struggling rural hospitals and the communities that rely on them. 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 links to articles covering the conversation happening at the Gold Dome.
Task force aims to reshape Georgia stance on health coverage
Georgia Health News | June 21
Will Louisiana’s Medicaid expansion provide a model for other states?
Georgia Health News | June 20
Why A Ga. GOP chair wants to ‘re-examine’ Medicaid expansion
WABE | June 15
Medicaid expansion remains divisive for Georgia Republicans
Associated Press | June 11
HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED
Did you know that you can find and email your legislators right from the GHF website? Just enter your address and we’ll find your state representative and senator! Send them a brief email telling them that the time has come for our legislature to come together to close Georgia’s coverage gap! Send your email here.
These resources will help you understand what the coverage gap is and what it means for you and the state.
Georgians for a Healthy Future was excited to meet and engage colleagues in rich discussions around policy, grassroots organizing and coalition-building to make prevention counseling more widely available for young people. 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.
Over the past three years, in partnership with the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse, GHF has advocated for turning on SBIRT codes and raised up youth substance use disorders as a critical public health issue that can no longer be overlooked in Georgia. We will publish a white paper on the potential benefits for turning on the Medicaid codes for youth SBIRT services in Georgia in the coming months. Check out our website to find out more about our Somebody Finally Asked Me campaign, additional resources on youth substance use prevention, and how you can get involved.