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Health Care Unscrambled 2024

Thank you for coming to Health Care Unscrambled 2024!

Thank you for being a part of Georgians for a Healthy Future’s 14th annual Health Care Unscrambled! We were thrilled to have so many advocates, policy makers, health care providers, and public health professionals join us for this year’s event!

Thank you for your support!

Thank you to all of this year’s Health Care Unscrambled sponsors, individual donors, and volunteers. Your generosity advances our work towards a healthy, equitable Georgia. Thank you for investing with us and the future we are building together!

Thank you also to the filmmakers and team behind “The Only Doctors” documentary for allowing us to feature part of your film during this year’s program.   

Thank you to all HCU speakers and panelists! 

This year’s Health Care Unscrambled program was a big success! If you’d like to watch it again or missed the event, the recording is available here on our YouTube channel.

After kicking off the program with a consumer story from The Only Doctor documentary, we were joined by an accomplished panel of state legislators. Senators Sonya Halpern, Ben Watson, and Rep. Sharon Cooper discussed some of the most pressing issues that are likely to be considered during this year’s legislative session.

Rep. Cooper spoke about how changes to Certificate of Need (CON) (how hospitals and other health facilities are regulated) will be a major issue in both the Senate and the House. Sen. Watson described a need to focus on medical education to sustain and fulfill workforce shortages. Sen. Halpern connected a shortage of Black doctors (and other providers of color) to poor maternal health here in Georgia; she also called for more waiver slots for people with developmental disabilities to help address the long waiting list in Georgia. When asked about the Medicaid unwinding, Rep. Cooper pointed out how much work the Department of Community Health has had on its plate over the last year or so: the rollout of Pathwaysrevalidation for providers who see Medicaid members as patients, re-bidding the contracts for Georgia’s Medicaid insurance companies, the unwinding itself.

Rep. Cooper weighed in on the House’s November hearing that addressed Georgia’s lack of Medicaid expansion. She briefly noted that an Arkansas-style Medicaid expansion is appealing to her.

All three panelists agreed that the state needs to take a closer look at maternal health. To help inform conversations about maternal health in Georgia, we are sharing the following resources:

When asked about HB 520 – last year’s large mental health and substance use bill, Sen. Halpern reminded the audience that the House has approved a version of the bill and it now sits in the Senate Health & Human Services committee for considerations. She added that there are plans to move some of the initiatives forward even if the entirety of the bill is not passed. Workforce and licensure were both discussed as critical areas to address to continue to ensure that the state has necessary mental health and substance use recovery providers.

The legislative panel set the stage for our distinguished keynote panel: Joan Alker, Executive Director of the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University and Alex Briscoe, Principal of the California Children’s Trust. We learned from this outstanding panel about Georgia’s Medicaid landscape and the changes that Medicaid members are experiencing right now, before diving into what changes could be made in Medicaid to boost the health and wellness of Georgia’s children and families. 

Dr. Alker described the Medicaid unwinding and its disproportionate impact on children in Georgia. Conversely and in good news for Georgia kids, Dr. Alker reminded the audience that all Medicaid-covered children now benefit from 12 months’ continuous coverage! She also pointed to the financial foolishness of the new Georgia Pathways program, and the very limited number of Georgians who have been able to enroll thus far. Dr. Alker explained that she believes that all states will eventually expand Medicaid, and that Georgia is at a critical juncture to secure that policy for our state.

Mr. Briscoe noted that Medicaid covers half of the children in the country (and in Georgia), and that mental health and substance use services are critical, particularly given the strains of the pandemic. Data shows a doubling of inpatient visits for self-injury and that Medicaid is an essential tool to help address this. Dr. Briscoe described some of the Medicaid policy changes that could benefit children’s mental health care including removing diagnosis as a requisite for receiving mental health and addiction recovery services, and centering schools as an important place for delivering health care. A couple of Mr. Briscoe’s suggestions are currently included in HB 520, and others would expand the impact and benefit of Georgia’s mental health parity law for children and youth.

Both speakers helped contextualize information related to Medicaid managed care and Medicaid expansion, providing ideas and data from a national perspective to help Georgia move forward.

Missed HCU 2024 or want to share the event with others? 

A recording of HCU 2024 is available on our YouTube channel here.

You can find the program, event slides, and other materials here on the HCU 2024 event webpage.

Visit GHF’s Facebook page to view photos from the event! You may see yourself among the pictures of guests, speakers, and colleagues. Check out the online HCU 2024 discussion by searching #HCU2024 on Twitter and Facebook.

Thank you again for attending! 

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Health care researchers and advocates want Georgia to implement new policies across its health insurance system as the state concludes its yearlong process of redetermining eligibility for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program.