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Author: Alex McDoniel

GHF legislative update: February 26

Legislative Update: Week 7

In this week’s update:

  • New bill would study options to close Georgia’s coverage gap 
  • Cover Georgia is at the Capitol today! Advocate with us!  
  • Legislation GHF is tracking 
  • Legislation on the move 
  • Advocacy events for your calendar
  • GHF’s got you covered this session!
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GHF legislative update: February 19

Legislative Update: Week 6

In this week’s update:

  • Thank you for showing up! 
  • Cover Georgia Advocacy Day: Feb. 26th 
  • Budget update
  • Legislation: workforce, workforce, workforce!
  • Advocacy events for your calendar
  • GHF’s got you covered this session!

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GHF legislative update: February 12

Legislative Update: Week 5

In this week’s update:

  • Action Alert: Ask Senate Judicary Committee members to vote “Yes” on HB 404 at today’s hearing! 
  • Budget update
  • Legislation GHF is keeping up with
  • Advocacy events for your calendar
  • GHF’s got you covered this session!

Action Alert: Before today’s hearing, urge committee members to support HB 404

Georgians deserve quality housing! 

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear HB 404: Safe at Home Act  today at 4pm. Please call or email committee members and ask them to vote YES on HB 404, with no weakening amendments.

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GHF legislative update: February 5

Legislative Update: Week 4

In this week’s update:

  • Action Alert: Urge Senate Judicary Committee members to support HB 404!
  • GHF remembers Rep. Richard Smith
  • Legislation GHF is keeping up with
  • Advocacy events for your calendar
  • GHF’s got you covered this session!
(more…)

GHF legislative update: January 29

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: WEEK 3

The GHF team loves bringing you these weekly legislative updates, and you have told us that you enjoy reading them! Our team works hard to deliver this service to you in a complete and accurate way every week of Georgia’s legislative session. If you rely on these updates to keep you connected to the health happenings under the Gold Dome, please consider supporting our work with a donation today. Thank you very much!

In this week’s update:

  • Action Alert: RSVP your spot for Mental Health Parity Day at the Capitol!
  • Mental Health bills hitting early 
  • Other legislation GHF is keeping up with
  • The General Assembly 2024 calendar
  • Advocacy events for your calendar
  • GHF’s got you covered this session!
(more…)

GHF legislative update: January 22

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: WEEK 2

The 2024 legislative session has begun

The Georgia General Assembly convened Monday, Jan. 8th to officially kick off this year’s 40-day legislative session. 

Just two days later, Speaker Burns shared his optimism for closing Georgia’s coverage gap, and Democrats held a hearing about the very same issue. You’ll find details about both below. 

On Thursday, Jan. 11th, GHF hosted Health Care Unscrambled 2024 and discussed our 2023-2024 policy priorities. Thank you to those who attended HCU! To revisit HCU 2024 or see what you missed, check out our recap, a full recording of the event, and materials here.

On the same day, Governor Kemp delivered his State of the State address and released his budget proposals for the current state budget and next year’s budget. We detailed some health-related highlights for you below. 

Last week began with Martin Luther King Jr. Day and continued as “budget week”. House and Senate Appropriations Committee members held joint hearings during which state agency leaders presented their budget requests and reviewed agency spending. 

Lawmakers are set to reconvene today for Legislative Day 6. The full legislative session calendar is available here.

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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! 

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GHF submits written comments on Pathways to Coverage program

On December 7th, the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH) held a public forum about the Georgia Pathways to Coverage program. The forum included an opportunity for Georgians to provide feedback about the program’s implementation. DCH also allowed stakeholders to submit written comments through December 14th. 

GHF verbally commented during the forum, but because of time constraints, followed up with these written comments. 

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Changes are coming to the way many Georgians enroll in health insurance.

Here is what you should know. 

Every year on November 1st, the ACA’s health insurance marketplace opens so that Americans who don’t have job-based health insurance or other coverage can shop for and enroll in health insurance. In 2023, 879,084 Georgians enrolled in coverage through the marketplace. This fall Georgians will preview changes to our marketplace shopping and enrollment experience that will go into full effect next year. Here’s what you need to know about those changes.  


“I’ve never had an employer provide health coverage for me,” said Pat, owner of Pat Valley Inc, who lives in Georgia and gets his health coverage through the ACA marketplace. “So this is something that I’ve been dealing with for a long time. It has gotten better since the Affordable Care Act was passed and implemented and has gotten easier with healthcare.gov up and running. I can now [enroll] every year, and I know the process and what (financial help) I will be getting that will help me and that is hugely important.” 


Under the ACA, each state has the option to create its own health insurance marketplace, called a state-based marketplace (SBM), or use the federal marketplace at healthcare.gov. 

Since 2013, Georgians have used healthcare.gov to view plans, qualify for financial help to lower the cost of health insurance, and enroll in the health plan of their choosing. Earlier this year, Georgia lawmakers moved to change that. The state legislature and Governor Kemp passed a new law that allows Georgia to create its own state-based marketplace (SBM). Since then, the Georgia Department of Insurance has been working to create and launch Georgia Access.

What should you know about the change to Georgia Access? 

During this fall’s open enrollment period (Nov. 1, 2023-Jan. 15, 2024), Georgia will operate a hybrid model with the state and federal government working together to manage Georgia’s marketplace. During this hybrid status, you can still use healthcare.gov to shop for and enroll in coverage. 

You may see ads or other promotions about Georgia Access as well. You can visit GeorgiaAccess.gov and become familiar with it. When you click to shop for health coverage or apply for financial assistance, you will be taken to healthcare.gov to complete the process. 

In fall 2024, the state and federal government will transition the marketplace from this hybrid model to Georgia Access. That is when you will begin using GeorgiaAccess.gov to shop and enroll in coverage. (If you visit healthcare.gov after this transition takes place, you will be directed to GeorgiaAccess.gov instead.)

As this change approaches, GHF will share more information about what to expect and how to prepare. Our enrollment assisters are available if you have any questions about how to get covered and stay covered this year and next year: 

  • Angelica Rivera, arivera@healthyfuturega.org, (470) 654-5484. Special focus on LGBTQ+ and Hispanic Georgians. 
  • Deanna Williams, dwilliams@healthyfuturega.org, (470) 654-5509. Special focus on middle Georgia.  

So what is Georgia Access? 

Georgia Access is a state-based marketplace. SBMs are operated by the states, with oversight from federal health officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). An SBM carries out almost all aspects of operating the health insurance marketplace, including making sure insurance plans meet certain requirements, providing financial assistance, and supporting consumer outreach and assistance. 

SBMs must retain important protections that you have come to expect, like offering only comprehensive plans that follow the ACA’s protections and providing a “one-stop shop” where consumers can view plans, find out about financial assistance, and enroll in coverage. 

SBMs are not better or worse than healthcare.gov. It really depends on how well the state operates its marketplace. SBMs are time- and cost-intensive to set up and maintain with no guarantee of good results. States that effectively run their SBMs can innovate in ways that improve consumers’ shopping and enrollment experience or enhance the quality of insurance plans offered. 

Check out GHF’s SBM fact sheet if you want to learn more! 

The success of Georgia Access will be determined by the work that the Georgia Department of Insurance puts in ahead of its full launch next year. GHF will continue to work with the Department to ensure Georgia Access meets the coverage needs of Georgia individuals and families. 


Georgia’s Pathways Program: What you need to know

Georgia is one of 10 states that has not yet expanded Medicaid. Our leaders’ in action leaves thousands of low-income Georgia adults without health insurance.

Instead of expanding Medicaid, Governor Kemp created a new program called Georgia Pathways to Coverage. This program will cover some low-income adults, but it has a lot of rules and requirements.

To qualify for Pathways, you must meet all of these four requirements:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or a qualified permanent resident
  • Be between the ages of 19 and 64
  • Have an income below the poverty line. (If you don’t know if your income is below the poverty line, use the chart below.)
  • Be working or doing other qualifying activities for at least 80 hours per month.
Chart with the title "Monthly Income Ranges". The chart lists the qualifying incomes for 2023 based on family size.

If you are uninsured and meet these requirements, you can apply for Pathways. You can apply online at gateway.ga.gov or by phone at 1-877-423-4746.

If you need assistance with your application, GHF’s enrollment assisters are here to help! Click here to ask for their assistance. 

What does this mean for Georgians?

Pathways is a complicated program with many rules and restrictions, so we expect only a fraction of eligible Georgians will get covered through the program. The Governor and his administration have estimated that between 31,000-100,000 Georgians will be able to enroll in Pathways. (Full Medicaid expansion would cover more than 400,000 Georgians.)  

Some people who are likely to be left out include:

  • Stay-at-home parents
  • Caregivers for aging family members or children with a disability
  • People in mental health or addiction recovery programs
  • Rural residents and people of color who live in areas where good jobs are hard to find
  • People who do not have reliable internet access or a car

These folks may not meet the requirements for Pathways or won’t be able to keep up with the tedious monthly reporting. They will likely be left behind. 

Medicaid expansion: an easier, better solution

Pathways is a broken bridge that lets too many Georgians and too much money fall through the cracks. Because of its complications and restrictions, thousands of Georgians will remain uninsured, and our state’s tax dollars–which are meant to help families access health care and keep hospitals open–will sit unused in Washington, D.C. 

Georgians deserve better. We deserve access to affordable, quality health care regardless of how little money is in our wallets. We deserve healthy hospitals whose doors are open to care for their communities. We deserve to visit the doctor when we’re sick and fill a prescription without worrying about whether to pay our rent or the medical bill.

Luckily Georgia leaders can replace Pathways with a program that is simpler, covers more people, costs less per person, and meets our state’s needs: Medicaid expansion! 

How you can help

Here are some things you can do to get Georgians covered and keep up the calls for Medicaid expansion:

By working together, we can make sure that all Georgians–regardless of how much or little money they have–have health coverage and the access to care that comes with an insurance card.


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