Peach Pulse: April 12, 2012

What’s New in Georgia
Legislative Wrap-Up

The 2012 Legislative Session came to a close on March 29th with mixed results for health advocates.

The good news: Our top legislative priority, restoring child-only plans to the individual health insurance market (HB 1166 sponsored by Representative Atwood), was successfully passed by both the House (by a vote of 161-1) and Senate (by a vote of 42-2). This legislation requires insurance companies who sell policies in the individual health insurance market to also sell child-only plans during an open enrollment period. These plans had previously been available in Georgia, but insurance companies stopped writing new policies in response to a change in federal law that prohibited discrimination against children due to pre-existing conditions. HB 1166 drew widespread support and Georgians for a Healthy Future was proud to be a part of the coalition effort that ensured its passage.

The bad news:  Georgia did not pass health insurance exchange legislation in 2012. While HB 801 and SB 418 were introduced by Representative Gardner and Senator Orrock, respectively, as companion bills to establish a health insurance exchange in Georgia, neither bill received a hearing. All information from the Governor’s Health Insurance Exchange Advisory Committee, which met throughout the second half of 2011 to develop recommendations on this issue and ultimately did not recommend establishing an exchange in 2012, is available here. Georgians for a Healthy Future had been strongly supportive of the exchange concept for Georgia (see our issue brief on this issue here); however, failure to pass legislation in 2012 means that Georgia will not be able to demonstrate readiness for an exchange on the timeline currently outlined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Georgia consumers will likely have access to a federal exchange beginning in 2014; Georgians for a Healthy Future will continue to monitor exchange developments at the federal and state level.

The rest: Georgians for a Healthy Future works collaboratively with a range of consumer and patient advocacy groups to advance policy priorities around health care coverage, access, quality, and affordability. Several organizations with whom we frequently partner have released excellent legislative summaries featuring health care issues. Here is a sampling:

  • Voices for Georgia’s Children reports on legislation that impacted children here.
  • The American Cancer Society gives us the lowdown on legislation that impacts access to care through the cancer lens here.
  • The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities explains legislation that impacts Georgians with developmental disabilities here.
  • Georgia Women for a Change fills us in on legislation that impacts women and girls in Georgia here.
  • The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute provides its recap here.

Medicaid and PeachCare Redesign Continues

The Department of Community Health (DCH) has been convening taskforces to gather feedback from consumer advocates, providers and other stakeholders on the current state of Medicaid and PeachCare, areas to be improved, gaps, and other barriers. These task forces will continue to meet over the next several months and through the procurement process.  In a recent meeting, DCH officials noted that they have already heard from hundreds of providers, advocates and consumers on their ideas and suggestions for the redesign, but there is still an opportunity to reach out to DCH to share your opinion on the process.  Send an email to and let DCH what you care about when it comes to covering our most vulnerable populations.

Georgians for a Healthy Future is proud to be a part of CARE-M: the Coalition to Assure Redesign Effectiveness for Medicaid.  CARE-M is comprised of several advocate groups across the state that have a vested interest in the ultimate redesign of Georgia’s Medicaid and PeachCare systems.  Many of these groups have been following DCH and Navigant’s progress and have drafted recommendations and policy papers on the topic.  To access these documents, click here. To learn more about our collective efforts, visit  If you or your organization would like to learn more about the redesign process and would like to request a presentation, email Amanda Ptashkin.

2nd Anniversary of the Affordable Care Act

March 23, 2012 marked the 2nd anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act.  In the past two years alone, 1500 Georgians with pre-existing conditions have enrolled in the pre-existing condition insurance plan (PCIP); 85,000 Georgian young adults have gained health insurance through dependent care coverage; 106,000 seniors received rebates from the closing of the Medicare donut hole; and 850,000 Georgians accessed free preventive services.  To learn more about how the law has expanded coverage and saved the state money, read the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute’s latest report.

To celebrate these early successes and show support for the law, Georgians for a Healthy Future along with Doctors for America, Health STAT,, and Know Your Care held a rally at the Capitol on March 26–the same day that oral arguments began at the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the ACA.  After hearing from doctors, advocates, and patients affected by the new law, the crowd then walked in to the Capitol to present the Governor and Attorney General with a petition with close to 1000 signatures showing broad support of the law.  While a Supreme Court decision is not expected until June, thousands of Georgians have already seen the positive impact of the law and this rally urged our state leaders: “Don’t Take Away My ACA!”  To view more pictures from the rally, click here.   To view the ACA video, click here.

GASOPHE Names New Advocacy Chair on Board of Directors

GASOPHE, the Georgia Society for Public Health Education, recently appointed GHF’s Outreach and Advocacy Director, Amanda Ptashkin, to their Board of Directors.  GASOPHE is a professional organization for professional health educators and others in public or community health.  As the new Chair of the Advocacy Committee, Amanda will help advance the organization’s legislative priorities which include: strengthening Georgia’s public health infrastructure; increasing the tobacco tax; and supporting implementation of the Affordable Care Act.