Aging with dignity: Georgia seniors need Medicaid

Sherry is 77 years old and lives independently in Murray County in north Georgia. She gets up five days a week at 5 am and prepares for her day, which begins with a bus ride to the RossWoods Adult Day Center. Medicaid and Medicare make it possible to spend her weekdays at RossWoods where she engages in arts and crafts and social activities designed to keep her brain and body healthy. She also receives information about her medications and doctor’s appointments. Sherry is one of over half a million seniors and people with disabilities in Georgia who depend on Medicaid and Medicare to live and function in their communities.

Sherry has several health conditions including high blood pressure, a blood clot in her heart, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, a pacemaker, and arthritis in one of her legs. On top of all that, she recently fell and broke her wrist, causing nerve damage. Thanks to Medicaid, Sherry is able to afford the medications she needs to live a functional and healthy life. She would not have the financial means to pay the standard $30–$50 copay for each of her seven medications but Medicaid means she pays just $1.20 per medication instead.

To get to the pharmacy for her medications, doctors’ appointments and RossWoods, a type of Medicaid called the Community Care Services Program (CCSP) waiver provides Sherry with transportation. CCSP waivers provide “community-based social, health and support services to eligible consumers as an alternative to placement in a nursing home.” When asked about her Medicaid coverage, Sherry said: “I couldn’t make it if I didn’t have [Medicaid]. There would be no way.”

For 168,000 seniors like Sherry who typically live on low, fixed incomes, Medicaid makes the difference and helps to pay the costs of their Medicare coverage. For some, it provides additional health benefits not covered through Medicare. For others, Medicaid allows them to age with dignity in their communities by covering needed home and living adaptations like chair lifts, wheelchair ramps, or engaging day programs with trained staff.


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Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies: Get to know Project AWARE, Part II

In our first blog on Project Aware, we provided an overview of the dynamic and innovative youth mental health initiative that is making a difference in the lives of school-aged youth in Georgia. One of the four goals of Georgia’s Project AWARE is to “train educators, first responders, parents and youth group leaders to respond to mental health needs of youth by providing free training in Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA).” In this blog we’ll get to know Youth Mental Health First Aid.

Youth Mental Health First Aid is a public education program which “teaches individuals how to help an adolescent in crisis or experiencing a mental health challenge.” Through an eight-hour course, participants learn the risk factors and warning signs of adolescent mental health issues. Attendees learn how to identify, understand, and provide early intervention for mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and substance use disorders.  Those who take the course develop skills to support youth using a five-step action plan:

  • Assess for risk of suicide or harm
  • Listen nonjudgmentally
  • Give reassurance and information
  • Encourage appropriate professional help
  • Encourage self-help and other support strategies

Youth Mental Health First Aid training was first designed by Mental Health First Aid USA in collaboration with experts at the National Technical Assistance Center for Children’s Mental Health at the Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development.

Georgia currently has three Project AWARE sites: Griffin-Spalding County School System, Muscogee County School District and Newton County Schools. Through Project AWARE, the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) provides training in Youth Mental Health First Aid to teachers and other school staff and work with schools to develop innovative ways to connect youth and families to community-based mental health services. Georgia State University’s Center for Leadership in Disability and the Center for Research on School Safety, School Climate and Classroom Management provide the training and evaluation for Georgia Project AWARE at these three schools systems.

You can learn more about Project AWARE and the Impact of Youth Mental Health First Aid here:


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