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Governor signs Patients First Act: What’s next?

Last week Georgia’s Governor signed SB 106, legislation that allows the state to pursue an 1115 waiver to make changes to Georgia’s Medicaid program that could include expanding coverage up to more poor adults and a 1332 state innovation waiver to make changes to private insurance in the state. (We have covered the bill extensively in our weekly legislative emails and blog, and at CoverGA.org.) The Governor’s signature is only the beginning of a process that could bring sizable changes to Georgia’s health care landscape.

Now that the bill has been signed, what are the next steps?

The waivers that will result from SB 106 are only the vehicles to a possible future where all Georgians have access to affordable, quality health care, but they don’t provide a road map or the gas to get us there.

Your advocacy and input are necessary to provide the power and directions to that future.

For every 1115 and 1332 waiver that the state wants to pursue, Georgia’s policymakers must seek input from the public. There are required state and federal public comment periods for each waiver proposal and those are your opportunities to directly weigh in! Because waivers allow states to “waive” some consumer protections and provisions of federal law, it is essential that you speak up to let Georgia know how its ideas may impact you and your family.

Georgia’s timeline for crafting its waivers is still unclear (and likely still developing) but there is a specific process the state must follow. Here is what to expect from the 1115 waiver process and how you can help to shape what it looks like along the way.

Georgia’s 1115 waiver process. Note: the 1332 waiver process runs through the Department of Insurance, rather than Community Health

 

While GHF will engage with Georgia’s decision makers to advocate for consumer-centered, evidence-based waiver proposals, there is a limit to what we can do without you. It is your stories, advocacy, and comments that will guide Georgia to the healthy future we all want.

In the above graphic there are ways that you can help us at every turn. In the time periods represented by white circles, you can share your health care and coverage stories with us and our Cover Georgia partners. We want to hear from you if you are uninsured and in the coverage gap, if you have an individual or family health plan through the ACA Marketplace, if you are covered by Medicaid, and any other story you think will help us understand how to best represent your interests.

The public comment periods (yellow circles) are your time to take direct action. You can directly impact Georgia’s health care reform proposals by telling the state how their ideas may impact you and your family. (Don’t worry! We’ll make it easy for you to understand the proposed waivers and will provide clear instructions so that submitting comments is easy!)

In states like Kentucky and Arkansas, thousands of comments from people just like you have fended off onerous waiver ideas that would have kept people from enrolling or staying covered. In Tennessee and Alabama, almost 14,000 individuals across both states said that their states’ proposed ideas would damage their ability to live physically, mentally, and financially healthy lives. You can do the same.

Expect at least four public comment periods (two for an 1115 waiver and two for a 1332 waiver) and plan to submit comments every time. As we head into the next phase of our work to ensure all Georgians have access to meaningful, affordable health insurance, we are counting on you!

 

Stay tuned and stay active!

Share your health insurance story with us now. Your experience will inform our advocacy ahead of the public comment periods.

Stay in touch! Sign up to receive email updates and look for your opportunities to act!

Read up on health care waivers with these resources:


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