The Peach Pulse: March 2016

The 2016 Legislative Session has Ended

Moving Forward

policy-prioritiesThe 2016 Legislative Session has come and gone. If you’re still catching up on everything that happened, check out our legislative tracking page to see what passed, what didn’t, and what’s been signed by the Governor thus far. You can also find our video series, Consumer Health Advocacy Today (CHAT), on ourYouTube page.

Click here to read a letter from our Executive Director, Cindy Zeldin, as she reflects on the session and what’s ahead for Georgia’s health care consumers.

If you missed our webinar earlier today on changes in health care policy in the 2016 legislative session, join the Georgia Health Action Network to receive the recording.


Closing Georgia’s Coverage Gap

Tracy-Screenshot

Working together to close the coverage gap

GHF and the Cover Georgia Coalition are gathering stories and signatures! Stories like Tracy’s help to put a human face to Georgia’s decision not to expand Medicaid. If you fall into the coverage gap, your story can make a difference in convincing our lawmakers to close the gap. To share your story, email Whitney.

If you’d like to show your support for closing the gap you can sign this petition to close the coverage gap and share it with your friends, family, and social network.

In addition to the petition, GHF & Cover Georgia are collecting post cards, like the one above, to show lawmakers that their constituents support closing the gap. If your organization would like hard copies of postcards, like the one above, to help collect signatures in your outreach, let us know! We’re also available to give presentations on the coverage gap and what it means for all Georgians. For more information about presentations, email Laura.


Save the Date!

slider_CHIA_savethedate

The Consumer Health Impact Awards are back!

After an amazing first year, we are thrilled to announce the date for the second annual Consumer Health Impact Awards! Nominations for this year’s awardees start soon and now is the time to start thinking about who should take home the 2016 Linda Smith Lowe Advocacy and the Community Impact Award! Already know you want to go? You can RSVP here. Sponsorship opportunities can be found here.


GHF Welcomes New Staff Member

Dobra-HeadshotSarah Dobra – Director of Development & Operations

GHF is excited to welcome Sarah to the GHF team! In her role she will provide operational, development, planning and evaluation, and editorial support to ensure that we’re functioning well across programs and projects. Prior to joining GHF, Sarah was the Disparities Manager and Cancer Care Delivery Research Program Coordinator at a community cancer center in Savannah, Georgia. In this position Sarah successfully leveraged community  partners to support cancer prevention and screening activities to address cancer disparities as part of a larger community network. Sarah obtained her law and master’s in Public Health degrees at Tulane University and holds a B.A. from the University of Oregon. Sarah can be reached at sdobra@healthyfuturega.org – join us in welcoming her!


GHF in the News

Bill aims to erase errors in insurers’ medical directories 
by Andy Miller, Georgia Health News

“Directory errors can be common. For example, a “secret shopper” survey done by Georgians for a Healthy Future found numerous errors in four “silver-level” HMOs in Atlanta that the consumer group examined. The survey found that one in five primary care doctors listed as participating in a plan’s network were not actually in that network, Cindy Zeldin, executive director of the consumer group, told GHN on Wednesday…” Read more.

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The Peach Pulse: February 2016

Getting What You Pay For

groupGHF and Georgia Watch host policy forum on network adequacy, surprise out-of-network billing, and provider directory accuracy.

Early in February, GHF and Georgia Watch partnered to host policymakers, stakeholders, and advocates at a policy panel on important health insurance consumer protections. The event opened with remarks from Senator Dean Burke and included presentations from Consumers Union’s Julie Silas, Georgia Watch’s Beth Stephens, and GHF’s Meredith Gonsahn. If you missed the event, you can find presentations and materials below!

Julie Silas’s presentation: Finding Policy Solutions for Provider Directories and Surprise Medical Bills

Meredith Gonsahn’s presentation: Improving Network Adequacy and Provider Directory Standards in Georgia

Video interviews with Julie Silas on network adequacy and provider directories

Who was there? Check out the photo album.


New Policy Briefs

network-adequacy-briefEnsuring Access to Care: Setting and Enforcing Network Adequacy Standards 

When consumers enroll in a health insurance plan, they gain access to a network of medical providers. This network must be adequate to ensure that consumers enrolled in the plan have reasonable access to all covered benefits. The goals of this policy brief are to:

-explain the importance of network adequacy for access to care

-outline current network adequacy standards in Georgia

-summarize recent policy activity around network adequacy

-set forth consumer-oriented principles for network adequacy standards in Georgia

-provide policy recommendations to achieve network adequacy in Georgia.

Download the brief.

provider-directory-briefEnsuring Access to Care: Improving Provider Directory Accuracy and Usability

Provider directories are the primary tool available to consumers to determine whether the plan they are selecting has a narrow or broad network and to identify which providers are in their plan. As such,these directories should be accurate, up-to-date, and should truly function as a tool. The Georgia Legislature has taken the first steps to addressing these issues through SB 302, the Provider Directory Improvement Act. The bill passed unanimously in the Senate and is now in the House Insurance Committee for consideration.The goals of this policy brief are to:

-explain the role provider directories play as a tool for consumer decision-making

-describe current provider directory provision in Georgia

-describe common problems with provider directories

-outline recent policy activity around provider directories

-highlight other state examples of provider directory improvments

Download the brief.


Legislative Updates

Mental.Health.Day_Jan.2016_edittedGHF and partners take to the Gold Dome! 

Whitney and Laura have been spending extra time at the Capitol lately with our coalition partners. Many organizations host lobby days during the legislative session when grassroots advocates can come to the Capitol to make legislators aware of issues that they care about and advocate for relevant legislation. Our partner organizations have invited GHF to attend many lobby days to talk to their attendees about closing Georgia’s coverage gap and other items on our policy agenda. Whitney and Laura have also provided coverage gap lapel stickers so this issue is visible to all people in the Capitol, especially legislators. Thank you to all our partners for sharing your lobby days with us and helping to foster new coverage gap advocates!

Consumer Health Care at the Capitol
Throughout the session we’ve been sending weekly legislative updates about the issues we’re following at the Capitol, such as the Provider Directory Improvement Act, proposals to close the coverage gap, and other bills that could impact your health care. If you missed an email, you can find all updates here. You can also see all the bills we’re tracking here.


GEAR Update: Special Enrollment Period Changes 

We want to hear from you – new SEP rules! 
At the beginning of last year’s open enrollment period, GHF created GEAR, the Georgia Enrollment Assister Resource Network (GEAR). GEAR is a coalition of enrollment assisters and those closely involved in the enrollment process. Now the open enrollment is passed, GEAR is turning to tax time and special enrollment periods (SEPs). Last month, CMS announced the new special enrollment confirmation process. Georgians will now be required to provide sufficient proof to the marketplace to determine their SEP eligibility. Failure to provide supporting documents may lead to the denial of coverage. At GHF we advocate for policies that make enrollment in health insurance more inclusive and  fight policies that put up unnecessary barriers. We want to hear from you about this! If you’re an enrollment assister and are experiencing trouble enrolling consumers during a special enrollment period, let us know! If you’d like to join the GEAR network, you can do that here.


GHF Welcomes New Board Members

Haque-aliyyaAliyya Haque
Aliyya Haque is an associate in Alston & Bird’s Products Liability group. She represents industry in scientifically-complex matters, typically involving toxic tort, product liability, ad consumer fraud allegations. Aliyya specializes in working with experts to communicate the client’s scientific case to a non-technical audience. Representative industries include telecommunications, food and beverage, chemicals and minerals, automotive and home construction products. Aliyya received her J.D. from Emory University School of Law. Prior to attending law school, she obtained a M.P.H in health systems management from Tulane University and a B.A. in human biology and a minor in art history from Stanford University.

Caley_headshot_2014-300x300-1Sylvia Caley

Sylvia returns to the GHF’s board of directors. She is an associate clinical professor at Georgia State University and is director of the Health Law Partnership (HeLP), a medical-legal community collaboration among Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the Atlanta Legal Aid Society and the College of Law at Georgia State. Caley has extensive experience in health care, health law and policy, and poverty law, and her work-related interests have centered on the intersection of health and poverty. She is a member of the Grady Health System Ethics Committee and the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Bioethics and public Affairs Committee. Caley teaches courses on health policy and legislation and clinical skills. She also lectures extensively on legal issues affecting child health and well-being

 


GHF in the News

Closer Look – WABE
59:18: Cindy Zeldin, executive directory og GHF, expamines current state legislation related to healthcare and health policy.


A small, surprising step toward a big change in health coverage? – Georgia Health News
“The bill may not get very far this year, with time running out in the General Assembly session and without the fiscal impact yet studied. But a Senate health committee broke new ground by holding a legislative hearing on a proposal, SB 368, that would create a Medicaid expansion alternative in Georgia…”


ACA enrollment tops 587,000 in Ga., but insurers nervous over sign up rules – Georgia Health News
“More than 580,000 Georgians signed up for coverage in the insurance exchange during the third open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act…”


Bipartisan Cooperation on Health Care in Georgia, But Not Medicaid Expansion – Atlanta Progressive News
“Medicaid expansion may be dead for the year, but there appears to be bipartisan cooperation on other health policy issues..”

 

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The Peach Pulse: January 2016

INTRODUCING THE GEORGIA HEALTH ACTION NETWORK (GHAN)

What is GHAN? 

GHAN is your way to keep up with and take action on the health care policy issues you care about. By signing up to be a part of GHAN you’ll receive action alerts with things you can do, like sign a petition, share an infographic with your social network, or contact your legislator to raise awareness and advocate for important consumer health issues. To join GHAN, email Anna.


LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

policy-prioritiesThe Georgia Legislative Session is in full swing

It is a short session this year and it’s amazing we’re already almost a month in! GHF is at the Capitol every day, advocating for consumer health care protections. To see a list of the bills we’re tracking,click here. We’re very excited that Senator P.K. Martin has introduced a bill, SB 302, that would increase transparency and the usability of health insurance provider directories. The bill has strong bipartisan support and is scheduled for a hearing Monday, so stay tuned for that update! Conversations also continue around surprise medical bills, network adequacy, and closing the coverage gap.

Read the Week One update.

Read the Week Two update.

Read the Week Three update.

If you’re more of a visual person, you might want to check out our video series, CHAT (or Consumer Health Advocacy Today) where we talk to policy makers and experts about what’s going on under the Gold Dome.


OPEN ENROLLMENT ENDS

Pranaya Outreach 10.15GHF helped over 100 people get covered

Open enrollment formally concluded on January 31, 2016 and 587,845 Georgians enrolled in the Marketplace (healthcare.gov).

Throughout open enrollment, GHF worked to get Georgians enrolled through direct service and the creation of GEAR (or the Georgia Enrollment Assister Resource Network). GEAR is the new central hub of resources for Georgia’s enrollment assisters and community partners who work with consumers to educate them on their health and health care coverage options. If you are interested in learning more about GEAR or want to sign up for the newsletter, email Whitney. Additionally, during this open enrollment period we have provided enrollment assistance to 78 applicants and their families, totaling 141 Georgians. Of those, 91%  received financial assistance.


WHY THE COVERAGE GAP MATTERS

Henry.-Savannah-GA-1.16On January 19th, GHF’s Outreach and Engagement Manager, Whitney Griggs, was in Savannah talking to people who fell into the coverage gap. One of them was Henry. Henry had been working as a super heavy hauler, but had to stop working in 2008 to take care of his diabetes and other health issues. He intended to return to driving once his health problems were under control, but he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and could not return to driving or working. He is currently managing several severe health issues, including diabetes, blood clots in his lungs and legs, thryroid cancer, and COPD. Although, he is able to get some of his care from St. Mary’s, he has many unpaid medical bills. He must rely on his elderly mother to help pay some of his costs, which he says is difficult because she lives on a fixed income.  Stories like Henry’s highlight the need for Georgia to close its coverage gap to make sure all Georgians are able to get the care they need. If you or someone you know has a story of being uninsured that you would like to share, please contact Whitney.


6TH ANNUAL HEALTH CARE UNSCRAMBLED

Health Care Unscrambled 2016

Starting the Year Off Right 

There’s something wonderful about a room full of people talking about how to improve Georgians’ access to quality, affordable health care. No matter the path we advocate for, the end goal is the same. This year we hosted a bipartisan legislative panel that included Reps. Lee Hawkins and Debbie Buckner and Sens. Greg Kirk and Emanuel Jones. Following the legislative panel, two national experts, Sue Polis from Trust for America’s Health and Lynn Quincy from Consumers Union, spoke on emerging trends in health care policy. Check out this blog to see pictures from the event, read the media’s write up, and watch interviews with the panelists.


GHF IN THE NEWS

Last Call to Enroll for 2016 Insurance Under the Affordable Care Act 
New York Times | January 29, 2016

Read full article.

Legislative panel reflects divide on Medicaid expansion 
Georgia Health News | January 14, 2016

Read full article.

Rare metal: Where are the Platinum plans?
Georgia Health News | January 4, 2016

Read full article.

MORE >

The Peach Pulse: December 2015

The holidays are behind us and the legislative session is here! Here’s what you need to know about December before we get too far into January!


Upcoming Events

STDHealth Care Unscrambled 2016

It’s not too late to register! Health Care Unscrambled, GHF’s signature event, is this Thursday. Join us for breakfast and conversation with a bipartisan panel of legislators who are focusing on health policy issues under the Gold Dome this session. Then stick around for a deep dive on emerging issues for health advocates with Lynn Quincy of Consumers Union and Sue Polis from Trust for America’s Health.

RSVP

 

Legislative-Webinar-4-15-2Webinar: A Look Ahead at Health Care Policy in the 2016 Georgia Legislative Session

Can’t make it to Health Care Unscrambled? You can still get the information you need to advocate on health care policy issues in the 2016 legislative session by attending our upcoming webinar. We will preview expected health care legislation,present GHF’s policy priorities, and let you know how you can get involved. The webinar is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 21st, noon to 1 pm.

Register Here

 

Getting What You Pay For: Consumer Protections for Network Adequacy, Surprise Medical Bills, and Provider Directories

February 2, 2016 – 8am
Freight Depot, Blue Room

Join us and Georgia Watch for a policy forum featuring an in-depth panel discussion on network adequacy, surprise medical bills and provider directories. Panelists will speak on how these issues are impacting consumers in Georgia and across the nation, policy implications, current legislative work and how you can get involved in supporting advocacy efforts. The panel will feature:

  • Senator Dean Burke, District 11
  • Julie Silas, Consumer Union
  • Meredith Gonsahn, Georgians for a Healthy Future
  • Beth Stephens, Georgia Watch

RSVP


Policy Updates
Study committee work has finished, reports trickle in

Georgia legislative study committees meet during the off-session to study and make recommendations for the General Assembly around specific policy issues. GHF has been following and participating in the study committees focused on health issues impacting consumers. Read our Health Policy Analyst Meredith Gonsahn’s blog for a run-down of committees that have published their reports, the issues they investigated, and report recommendations.

Read blog.

GHF releases our policy priorities

Policy_Priority_ThumbnailThe 2016 Legislative Session has officially begun and at GHF we have released our 2016 policy priorities. You can download the PDF below or you can watch the one minute video by clicking on the image to the right for a quick run-down!

Download our 2016 policy priorities


ACA Implementation Research Network

Dec18.2015forumIn December, the ACA Implementation Research Network released its Georgia state report at a policy forum held at the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. Georgians for a Healthy Future’s Executive Director Cindy Zeldin participated in a discussion with advocates, policymakers, and stakeholders to reflect on the report’s findings. The conversation ranged from health insurance enrollment best practices to health system reform to what it will take to close the coverage gap in Georgia.

Download the Report


Enrollment Update

Parker & Sharda Tankoo_enrolled 2016 (3)By the 9th week of Open Enrollment 3, more than 8.6 million consumers nationally and 517,000 in Georgia have enrolled in health care coverage through the Marketplace. In addition to GHF’s collaborative work with the enrollment assistance community, we also help individuals and families enroll in health insurance! We have assisted more than 70 individuals and families with enrollment and post enrollment related services, and enrolled 60 consumers into Marketplace plans during OE3. GHF continues to provide enrollment and post enrollment assistance to consumers through its main office in downtown Atlanta, its weekly enrollment site at Switzer public library in Marietta, and through other events in partnership with community organizations, coalition partners, and other non-profit organizations.

Contact our enrollment assister 


New Look, Same GHF

Have you been to our website recently? If you haven’t, you should! We have revamped our site to be more engaging and intuitive. It’s chock full of tools and resources to help you get up to speed on the issues you care about and to take action during the legislative session and throughout the year. Check it out!


GHF In the News

Tom Crawford: Here’s a salute to the accomplishments of 2015
Gainsville Times | December 30, 2015

Exchange enrollment nears 500,000 in Georgia
AJC | December 22, 2015

Insurers’ woes threaten the Affordable Care Act
Atlanta Business Chronicle | December 18, 2015

State senator expects legislation on insurance reform
Georgia Health News | December 15, 2015

See more 


GHF Welcomes New Intern!

VictoriaVictoria Congleton joins the GHF team in our efforts to improve health policies in Georgia. Victoria will work on various tasks during her time with GHF to learn about all of the components of health advocacy in Georgia. Victoria hopes to learn more about the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, health policies, the legislative session, and other health topics. She is currently finishing up her Bachelors in Community Health and French at SUNY Potsdam.

 

 


ICYMI: GHF is on LinkedIn

linkedin_largeGHF has joined the LinkedIn community and we’d love to connect with you! Check out our page, follow us and let the conversations begin!


See what’s happening on our social sites

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Peach Pulse, November 2015

POLICY UPDATES

Network Adequacy – We Have a Model Act!

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners approved an updated network adequacy model act at its Fall meeting in November. The model act is a framework that states can adopt to help ensure that consumers have meaningful and timely access to the health services in their benefit package. With more insurance companies offering narrow network plans, these basic standards are an important consumer protection, and GHF encourages state policymakers to consider tailoring and adopting the model act in Georgia. We’ll be announcing our legislative priorities for 2016 soon, and this issue will be on the list!

Study Committees Conclude Their Work

Meredith and Claire 11.15Several health-related study committees met during the summer and fall months, and most of them are wrapping up their work. The Consumer and Provider Protection Act Study Committee held its final open meeting in November with a focus on network adequacy and provider directories. Claire McAndrew from Families USA, a national consumer health advocacy organization, and Georgians for a Healthy Future’s Health Policy Analyst Meredith Gonsahn delivered testimony on the importance of setting network adequacy standards and ensuring provider directory accuracy and usability. Look out for a final report from the committee in December!

Read Meredith’s Testimony

Read Claire’s Testimony

Concerns Grow about Proposed Mergers

Earlier this year, two separate proposed health insurance mergers were announced. A November New York Times article laid out some of the concerns that consumer advocates have about the proposed mergers and featured comments from Cindy Zeldin, Georgians for a Healthy Future’s Executive Director. Our Health Policy Analyst Meredith Gonsahn is monitoring this important issue – be on the lookout for a policy brief in the new year that provides more detailed insights about the potential effects of these mergers. You can also learn more by visiting the Coalition to Protect Patient Choice.


UPCOMING EVENTS

Health Care Unscrambled 2016

STDPlease save the date for the morning of January 14th for our annual Health Care Unscrambled policy breakfast. The breakfast will feature a bipartisan panel of legislators who will preview the health care issues they plan to focus on during the legislative session, a keynote panel discussion about emerging health policy issues, and opportunities to network with fellow health advocates. Registration is now open!

RSVP!

Sponsorship Opportunities

 

 

 


GHF IN THE COMMUNITY

Coverage and Access to Care: Local Focus on Savannah

Photo Nov 06, 10 44 15 AMGeorgians for a Healthy Future hit the road again recently, this time to Savannah! We collaborated with the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute and the Chatham County Safety Net Planning Council to pull together a local roundtable discussion with individuals and organizations serving the local community. We learned so much about the coverage and access challenges facing individuals and families in Savannah.

Read Laura’s Blog

 

 

GHF in North Fulton

Laura North Fulton 11.15North Fulton Community Charities, a non-profit human service agency that assists families in need in North Fulton County, invited Georgians for a Healthy Future to present our Medicaid chart book to its community leaders. Board members, city and county council people, and state legislators were in attendance, along with interested community members. We had a constructive conversation with participants about how Georgia can close the coverage gap. If your organization, church, or community group would like us to present at your next meeting (either about closing the coverage gap or about helping people enroll in health insurance), contact Laura.

 

 

 


 

PUBLICATIONS AVAILABLE IN SPANISH

Get Insured. Stay Insured.

Spanish toolkitThis toolkit is designed to walk people through each step of the enrollment process, from how to select the right plan for them, to how to find a doctor, and even things to keep in mind when filing taxes if they receive a subsidy. Hard copies of the Spanish toolkit are available, please email Whitney for more information.

Download Spanish Toolkit.

 

 

 

My Health Insurance User’s Manual

Spanish workbookThis workbook is a take-home, interactive resource for the newly enrolled. People can fill in the workbook with their own information so they have all of their important health coverage information in one place. If your organization is interested in obtaining hard copies of the workbook in Spanish, please contact Whitney.

Download Spanish Workbook.

 

 

 

Thank You!

GGD2015_logo_home133wIn addition to November being a busy month full of community engagement, health insurance enrollment, and public policy advances, it was also a month for gratitude and reflection. This Thanksgiving, the 300,000 Georgians who fall into the coverage gap were in our thoughts. In the coming year, we plan to redouble our efforts to close the coverage gap in Georgia. Your contributions on Georgia Gives Day will support our advocacy campaign in 2016 to close this gap. The Georgians for a Healthy Future team thanks you for your support. And if you missed Georgia Gives Day, don’t worry – you can still give here.

 

 

 

 


GHF in the News

Obamacare insurance premiums on the rise in Georgia

AJC | November 29, 2015

Closer Look: Health Care; Peachtree-Pine Shelter; And More

WABE | November 24, 2015

States Urged to Review Health Insurance Mergers

New York Times | November 20, 2015

 

MORE >

Peach Pulse, October 2015


NEW PUBLICATIONS

Get Insured. Stay Insured.

ghf_toolkit_160x600Our new toolkit is designed to walk people through each step of the enrollment process, from how to select the right plan for them, to how to find a doctor, and even things to keep in mind when filing taxes if they receive a subsidy. Each piece of the toolkit can be used individually based on where the person is in the enrollment process or it can be used as one comprehensive piece. If you have any questions about the toolkit or would like to receive hard copies (for pick up only in most cases) please contact Whitney Griggs.

Download Toolkit.

My Health Insurance User’s Manual

Cover_ImageThis workbook is a take-home, interactive resource for the newly enrolled. It covers topics that enrollment assisters may not have time to cover during the enrollment appointment, such as how to find a primary care provider, how to make your first appointment, and even how to make a budget. People can fill in the workbook with their own information so they have all of their important health coverage information in one place.

Download Workbook.


 

Study Committees Continue Their Work

Cindy TiftonGeorgians for a Healthy Future’s Executive Director Cindy Zeldin traveled to Tifton in October to participate in the second meeting of the Consumer and Provider Protection Act Study Committee. The meeting was held at the Tift Regional Health System and featured testimony from a range of health care stakeholders. The third meeting of the committee was held on Monday, November 9th at 9am at the State Capitol in Atlanta and focused on network adequacy, an important issue for health care consumers. Click here to read Cindy’s blog on the study committee’s work.


 

 

PAST EVENTS

GEAR Webinar

GHF_5_pcpinoutetworkThis webinar introduced the Georgia Enrollment Assistance Resource (GEAR) Network. We created GEAR to be a resource for navigators, certified application counselors, community-based nonprofits, and other stakeholders who are interested in outreach and enrollment in Georgia. Through GEAR, you can access an array of Georgia-specific consumer-facing materials in English and Spanish. Participation in GEAR is free and is intended to be a community resource.

Sign up for the GEAR Newsletter.

Watch the Webinar.

 

Getting and Keeping Georgia Covered.

GHF and Enroll America teamed up to host an all day conference in advance of the start of Open Enrollment. If you missed it, check out this resources page for tons of valuable resources!

Photo Oct 28, 11 27 48 AM Photo Oct 28, 10 53 16 AM
Photo Oct 28, 9 30 13 AM Photo Oct 28, 9 26 18 AM

Policy Luncheon on Preventing Youth Substance Use

This forum featured a panel of experts who shared their academic, research, and personal experiences, demonstrating not only the need for, but the effectiveness of SBIRT in preventing substance use disorders. Check out the videos below hear more about by SBIRT matters.

Sissy_SBIRT_Video_Thumbnail_ SBIRT_Thumbnail
Dr._Seale_Thumbnail Dr._Kuperminc_SBIRT_Thurmbnail

Read the policy report.

 


UGA’s State of Public Health Conference: Featuring GHF

SOPH 9.15Last week, GHF was on the road again traveling to Athens for UGA’s annual State of Public Health conference. The SOPH conference is a chance for public health researchers, practitioners, and students to share and learn about the newest public health initiatives and research happening across Georgia. We were excited to be featured as a presenter among other experts, advocates, and leaders in Georgia’s public health domain. In a workshop dedicated to the Affordable Care Act, GHF teamed up with Georgia Watch to talk about Marketplace enrollment efforts in Georgia.  The presentation was based on GHF’s “Getting Georgia Covered” report, which explored the successes and barriers to outreach and enrollment efforts in Open Enrollment 2. We also previewed the upcoming open enrollment period, which starts on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015, and advocated for closing Georgia’s coverage gap. The other presenters in the workshop, including another presentation from our partner Georgia Watch, comprehensively covered the new ACA requirement for hospitals to complete a community health needs assessment (CHNA) of their service area every 2-3 years and how that is being implemented in Georgia. The workshop generated some excellent questions and constructive conversation about these two very different aspects of the ACA.


IN THE NEWS

Georgians face key health insurance decisions during open enrollment

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

Georgia Health News

 

WRBL

 

Soundbite Services

 

See more.


GHF Welcomes Yaminah, new Grassroots Advocacy Fellow!

YaminahYaminah Romulus joins the GHF team as the Grassroots Advocacy Fellow. She will work to develop GHF’s outreach strategy and collaborate the staff on policy analysis work. Yaminah is currently pursuing a Master’s of Public Health with a concentration in Health Policy and Management at Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. Some of her interests include access to care for vulnerable populations, barriers to quality care, and the improvement of health care delivery systems.

MORE >

Peach Pulse, September 2015


NEW PUBLICATIONS

A Chart Book for Understanding Medicaid in Georgia and the Opportunity to Improve It

Georgians for a Healthy Future and the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute are proud to release our joint publication: Understanding Medicaid in Georgia and the Opportunity to Improve It. Inside you will find infographics, new data, and compelling charts that simplify the complex issue of Medicaid in Georgia.

13_Adult Workers 19_Close Gap Good Economy
 12_Percent Uninsured GA Map  04_MedicaidPeachCare

Part one explains who gets Medicaid in Georgia, how Medicaid protects Georgians during economic downturns, how Medicaid controls costs in the state, and more.

Part two outlines Georgia’s opportunity to close the coverage gap.  Here you’ll find out what Georgia’s health insurance coverage gap is, how we can use Medicaid to close it, and who stands to benefit detailed by job sector, demographics, and veteran status.

Part three details economic and social benefits of closing the coverage gap. Why is closing the coverage gap is a good deal for Georgia and the state’s economy? What are the savings other states realize by closing the gap? How does coverage affect a person’s financial and physical health?

A limited number of hard copies of this new publication are available. Please let us know if you or your organization would like one. We are also available to provide presentations to your members about Medicaid in Georgia and the opportunity to improve it by closing the coverage gap. Please contact Laura Colbert if you’re interested in a community presentation.

Download the chartbook!

Many Working Parents and Families in Georgia Would Benefit from Extending Medicaid Coverage

Rate_of_Uninsurance_in_GA_CCFWe  know that closing Georgia’s coverage gap would help adults who are uninsured. But how does it affect families and children in our state? GHF and Georgetown University Health Policy Institute’s Center for Children and Families have teamed up to bring you new research to answer that question. Key findings include:

  • Nearly three-in-ten Georgians potentially eligible for coverage should Georgia choose to close the coverage gap are parents with dependent children residing in their home.
  • Of those parents that could benefit from expanded Medicaid eligibility, nearly two-thirds (57 percent) are employed. Nearly half of all uninsured parents (46 percent) work in restaurants, retail, or professional service occupations.

Children enrolled in Medicaid are more likely to receive well-child care and are significantly less likely to have unmet or delayed needs for medical care, dental care, and prescription drug use due to cost.


 

UPCOMING EVENTS

GEAR up for Open Enrollment

Webinar
October 19
2:00 – 3:00 PM

Please join us for a webinar to introduce the new Georgia Enrollment Assistance Resource Network-GEAR! GEAR is the new central hub of resources for Georgia’s enrollment assisters and stakeholders who work to educate people on their health and health coverage options. GEAR is full of handouts, interactive consumer tools, important updates, and other materials that will help enrollment assisters and community organizations better educate Georgians on health insurance enrollment, health insurance literacy, and more.

Toolkit_Logo toolkit5

Want to learn more about GEAR and how you and/or your organization can benefit?  Join us on October 19th for a webinar where we will demonstrate how to access GEAR and review some of the materials that can be found there. We will also get your feedback about other resources you would like to see included on GEAR in the future. GEAR is built to help more Georgians connect to health coverage and we want it to work for you!

Sign up for the webinar!

 

Policy Luncheon on Preventing Youth Substance Use

October 22, 11:30 AM – 1:45 PM
Loudermilk Center, Ann Cramer Room

SBIRT bookmarkPlease join us for a policy forum to take a deep dive into promising, cost-effective best practices to reduce youth substance abuse in Georgia. This lunchtime event will be held just prior to the second meeting of the Senate Study Committee on Preventing Youth Substance Use Disorders and will feature opening remarks by Senator Renee Unterman, the chair of the study committee and the Senate Health and Human Services committee. The forum will also include a panel discussion featuring:

Dr. Paul Seale, Navicent Health

Dr. Gabe Kuperminc, Georgia State University

Leigh Colburn, Director, Graduate Marietta Student Success Center

Bertrand Brown, Georgia Council on Substance Abuse

After the panelists’ presentations there will be time for question and answer. This is a free event, but we ask that you RSVP so that we may order enough food.

RSVP Now!


 

PAST EVENTS

Local Spotlight on Augusta

In Augusta last week, GHF met with local providers, advocates, and consumers to talk about Augusta’s coverage gap. More than a presentation, the event was a constructive conversation about finding a solution and making Augusta healthier. It was clear to us that people in Augusta are dedicated to helping their neighbors and closing the coverage gap.

 Augusta5  Photo Sep 24, 9 16 04 AM

The event was previewed and then written up in the Augusta Chronicle.

Event Write Up

“The state of Georgia will eventually expand its Medicaid program “because the numbers are so compelling,” a health care economist for Georgia State University said Thursday at a policy forum in Augusta.”

Event Preview

“Medicaid already covers 1.9 million people in Georgia, about 64 percent of whom are children, despite “very restrictive” limits on who can qualify, particularly for adults, according to a report being released today by Zeldin’s group and the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute.”

 

GHF’s First Annual Consumer Health Impact Awards

What a night! GHF honored Georgia’s most inspiring health advocates, community partners, and policymakers at our first annual Consumer Health Impact Awards dinner in September. If you missed the event and want to see what all the fuss was about, check our our Storify or the photos on Facebook.

Thank you to our sponsors!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Legislative Study Committee Insights

Cindy Study Committee 9.15Study committees are the framework for the legislative session. It’s where legislators, experts, and advocates roll up their sleeves and study the issues facing Georgians. Below you’ll find two windows into the study committee process. The first is a deep dive into the Senate Study Committee on the Consumer and Provider Protection Act (SR 561) by GHF Executive Director Cindy Zeldin who serves on the committee and is very involved in addressing network adequacy.  The second is a breakdown by GHF Policy Analyst Meredith Gonsahn on the health-related committees meeting over the next several weeks.

Study Committee on the Consumer Provider and Protection Act

Read more about the study committees


 

IN THE NEWS

Expanding Medicaid coverage in Georgia has benefits, experts say

Augusta Chronicle | September 24, 2015

 

Georgia, Augusta are missing out on Medicaid, group says 

Augusta Chronicle | September 23, 2015

 

Health insurance rates headed up in 2016

Georgia Health News | September 14, 2015

– See more at: http://backup.jasonaxelson.com/september-peach-pulse#sthash.2QoeAfib.dpuf

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Peach Pulse, August 2015


Atlanta Journal-Constitution Op-ed on GA Uninsured Rate

DSC_0912 (2)GHF’s ED Cindy Zeldin took to the pages of theAtlanta Journal-Constitution last month to make the case for coverage:
“The clearest evidence we have shows us the decision by the majority of states (30 and counting) to expand Medicaid is foundational in transforming the health system. We cannot make progress as a state if 15 percent of our population is uninsured. Too many Georgians fall into a coverage gap our leaders can fix. Medicaid expansion should be on the table, not as a perfect solution, but as a necessary first step.”

 

IN THE NEWS

Medicaid experiment should foster dialogue

Atlanta Journal-Constitution | August 28, 2015

 

Narrow networks are the exchange norm here

Georgia Health News | August 25, 2015

 

State outlines argument against Medicaid “waiver”

Georgia Health News | August 13, 2015

 

Former state insurance chief wary of big mergers

Georgia Health News | August 2, 2015


 

We’re updating our look!

As we grow, GHF is looking to the future. We’ve updated our logo and this fall we will be rolling out a new website! Stay tuned for more details.

Logo PNG

 

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Peach Pulse, July 2015


Network Adequacy Takes the Stage

During the 2015 Legislative Session, the State Senate established the Consumer and Provider Protection Act Study Committee. This committee will review and make recommendations around several health insurance practices, including network adequacy. GHF has identified network adequacy, or the sufficiency of the health care providers patients can access when they enroll in a health insurance plan, as an important emerging consumer health issue. Our Executive Director, Cindy Zeldin, is a member of the study committee and looks forward to bringing the consumer perspective to the committee’s work. Cindy also recently appeared on WABE and Top Docs Radio to talk about network adequacy and participated in a panel discussion along with several state legislators at the Medical Association of Georgia’s Summer Legislative Education Seminar to discuss this important issue. Stay tuned for study committee agendas, updates, and opportunities to weigh in!

Study Committee Schedule
September 14, 9:00 – 12:00
State Capitol

October 26, 2:00 – 5:00
Tift Regional Healthy System, Tifton

November 9, 9:00 – 12:00
State Capitol

 


Don’t Miss Out: GHF’s Consumer Health Impact Awards

CHIA TwitterYou’re invited to Georgians for a Healthy Future’s First Annual Consumer Health Impact Awards! Please join us for a silent auction, dinner, and awards presentation on the evening on September 9th at Park Tavern.  We look forward to gathering with friends old and new as we celebrate the work being done by those dedicated to ensuring all Georgians have access to quality, affordable health care.

 


GHF in the News

Gainesville Times | July 30, 2015
WABE | July 27, 2015

Georgia Health News | July 24, 2015
July 15, 2015

Medicaid Turned 50!

Over the past 50 years, Medicaid has ensured that our family members, friends, and neighbors have the quality health care they need. Be it our seniors accessing long term care services, kids seeing a doctor, or people with disabilities living independently, millions of people are better off because of this critical program.

Medicaid has also shown itself to be an effective and cost-efficient program. Administrative costs are substantially lower than private insurance and because people using Medicaid have access to preventive services, small issues can be addressed before they end up as big, costly illnesses.

catalyst1finalChildren in particular benefit from Medicaid. Studies show that kids with coverage show up at school ready to learn, are more likely to graduate from college, and end up with more earning potential as adults. In fact, more than 1 million Georgia children (about 35% of kids in our state) currently get their health care coverage through Medicaid.

As we reflect on what Medicaid has meant for children and families here in Georgia, it has been nothing short of transformative. And while about 1.9 million Georgians overall benefit from the essential health care access that Medicaid provides, approximately 300,000 Georgians are still stuck in a coverage gap: they don’t qualify for Medicaid under its existing stringent standards, aren’t offered coverage at work, and earn too little to qualify for tax credits through the Health Insurance Marketplace. The majority of states have accepted federal funding to close this gap, but Georgia hasn’t yet taken that step. Closing this gap and extending Medicaid coverage to all low-income Georgians would be a powerful tool for improving the health of individuals and families throughout our state. At Georgians for a Healthy Future we are proud to advocate for the Medicaid program that has been proven to improve health and saves lives. For the millions of Americans, and many Georgians, whose quality of life has been improved because of Medicaid, we’re so happy to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the life-changing program.

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More about Medicaid in Georgia!


 

Have you gotten married recently?

ghf_covered_medskyMajor life events, such as getting married, changing jobs, or having a baby, qualify for you a special 60 day enrollment period.  So after the honeymoon is over, it’s time to #GetCovered!

If you need assistance, our health care Navigator, Pranay Rana, is here to help!

Once you have health insurance, Whitney Griggs, our Consumer Education Specialist, can help answer the questions you have about finding a provider, accessing preventive services, filing a complaint or appeal, or any other question you may have!



 

We’re here to help!

IMG_2520Georgians for a Healthy Future staff is available to come to your coalition or organization meeting to cover any of these topics!

Laura Colbert, Community Outreach Manager.Laura can present on topics like closing Georgia’s coverage gap, how you and your organization can get involved in health advocacy, the effects of health policies on the health of Georgians, and more.
Pranay Rana, Health Insurance Navigator.  Pranay can give presentations on the health insurance marketplace and what you need to know before enrolling in health insurance.  Pranay is also available for individual enrollments.

Whitney Griggs, Consumer Education Specialist.

Whitney can present on health insurance literacy (a breakdown of important health insurance terms and concepts) and how to get the most out of your health insurance. This is especially helpful for groups and communities that have many newly insured members.

Set up a presentation!


 

ICYMI: Social Media Trends

To celebrate Medicaid’s 50th Anniversary, advocates and consumers across the country participated throughout the web with#KeepingUsHealthy and #MedicaidAt50

Check out the Twitter Storm on Storify!
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Peace Pulse, June 2015


King v. Burwell Recap

FB SCOTUS Cover Image

 

 

 

Last month, the Supreme Court upheld subsidies for health insurance bought through the federal marketplace, leaving more than 400,000 Georgians secure in their coverage.

“We celebrate an important victory for health care consumers, and we are relieved that hundreds of thousands of Georgians can keep their coverage,” said Cindy Zeldin, Georgians for a Healthy Future’s Executive Director. “But there is still work to do. Georgia has the second highest rate of uninsured in the country, and three-hundred thousand Georgians fall into a coverage gap that was created by Georgia’s decision not to expand Medicaid.”

Now that the outcome of King v. Burwell is clear, we must not forget these workers, parents, and veterans in our state who still lack access to quality, affordable health insurance. It’s time to close the coverage gap.


Need health enrolling or using your insurance?

Jazzie-Jones-Smith-&-Sonny-Jones-Smith

Have you had a major life event recently, such as getting married? You may qualify for a special enrollment period. Pranay Rana, GHF’s health care navigator, is here to help you get covered!   Email Pranay for an appointment or check out his schedule below.

Once you have health insurance, Whitney Griggs, our Consumer Education Specialist, can help answer any questions you may have about finding a provider, accessing preventive services, or filing a complaint or appeal.

Pranay’s Schedule:
 

Switzer Central Library

266 Roswell St, Marietta, GA 30060

Every Thursday 11 AM – 4:00 PM


Moving Forward

 

GHF surveyed and interviewed enrollment assisters across the state to understand not only the “what,” but also the “why” behind the second open enrollment period.  The results of that research have led us to several policy recommendations to maximize health insurance enrollment and retention and to ensure that coverage translates to meaningful access to timely and appropriate medical services for Georgia health care consumers.

  1. Close the coverage gap in Georgia. Approximately 300,000 Georgians fall into the coverage gap, meaning they do not qualify for Medicaid under existing income eligibility guidelines in Georgia but their income is still too low to qualify for financial assistance (tax credits) to purchase health insurance on the Marketplace. Eligibility for tax credits begins at 100 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, or $11,770 for an individual or $20,090 for a family of three in 2015, while Medicaid eligibility for most adults in Georgia cuts off at income much lower. Thirty states including DC have closed their coverage gaps thus far with promising results. We encourage Georgia policymakers to take this important step as well to ensure all Georgians have a pathway to coverage.
  2. Set and enforce network adequacy and transparency standards. Many of the plans sold through the Health Insurance Marketplace are Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plans that feature narrow provider networks. While these narrow networks can help keep premiums down, a trade-off many consumers may be willing to make, consumers do not currently have sufficient information to make this choice. There is no information available to consumers at the point of sale about whether a provider network is ultra narrow, narrow, or broad, and provider directories are routinely inaccurate. More transparency and oversight are needed to ensure that consumers have accurate and useful information to make these choices. It is also important that all provider networks allow for meaningful access to all covered benefits. To ensure this, we support putting in place and enforcing network adequacy standards.
  3. Encourage public-private partnerships and remove unnecessary restrictions on consumer education and assistance. Many of the enrollment assisters we surveyed indicated that reducing barriers to partnering with state government organizations such as public colleges, universities, and health departments would lead to stronger and more effective partnerships. Specifically, many respondents indicated that improved coordination between enrollment assisters, the Marketplace, and the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH) to better facilitate PeachCare for Kids and Medicaid enrollment would be helpful. The “Health Care Freedom Act,” passed in 2014 as part of HB 943, prohibits state and local governmental entities from operating a health insurance navigator program and places other limitations on governmental entities. This provision has been counterproductive, creating confusion around what educational and consumer assistance activities local entities can engage in as they work to serve their community members. We recommend lifting these restrictions.

GHF UPCOMING EVENTS

 

Save the Date_cropped

You’re invited to Georgians for a Healthy Future’s First Annual Consumer Health Impact Awards!

Please join us for a silent auction, dinner, and awards presentation on the evening on September 9th at Park Tavern.  We look forward to gathering with friends old and new as we celebrate the work being done by those dedicated to ensuring all Georgians have access to quality, affordable health care.  Tickets can be purchased below.

Do you know someone who should be recoginized for one of the below awards?  Nominate them here! Nominations will be accepted through July 31st.

You can view sponsorship opportunities here, or if you have an item you’d like to donate for the silent auction, please email Anna.

Linda Smith Lowe Health Advocacy Award

The Linda Smith Lowe Health Advocacy Award is given each year to an advocate whos work advances access to quality, affordable health care in Georgia. Nominees can be either professional advocates or volunteer advocates and must place a focus on vulnerable populations in their work and must work to achieve policy change. This award is named in honor of Linda Smith Lowe. Linda has dedicated her career to serving as an advocate on behalf of underserved Georgians who need a voice on health and human services issues.

Community Impact Award

The Community Impact Award is given each year to an individual or organization who has made an exceptional contribution to the health of their community in the past year. The impact of this contribution can be either at the individual, local, or state level. Nominees must work with individuals or local organizations to drive advancements in the health of the population served. Nominees may be health care providers, enrollment assisters, health educators, or others.

Powerhouse Policymaker Awards

The Powerhouse Policymaker Awards are given each year to local or state policymakers in Georgia who have exhibited excellence and courage in championing health issues in the public policy arena. Award recipients will have a particular focus on consumers or vulnerable populations and will have worked to advance our vision of a day in which all Georgians have access to the quality, affordable health care they need to lead healthy lives and contribute to the health of their communities.


GHF IN THE NEWS

Cindy King V BurwellAll eyes were on health insurance last month and we were excited to celebrate the victory with the press and with Georgia!

GHF Updates

Meredith HeadshotGHF welcomes a new staff member! Meredith Gonsahn is Georgians for a Healthy Future’s Health Policy Analyst. She joined Georgians for a Healthy Future in July 2015.  In this role she identifies key issues in health policy and how they impact Georgia health care consumers.  Meredith also monitors major trends in public and private health insurance, health system reform and other key policy areas to keep the organization abreast of emerging issues. Meredith comes to Georgians for a Healthy Future from the Atlanta VA Medical Center where she served as a Study Coordinator for a wound care clinical trial. Prior to this position, Meredith was a Research Associate for the Center for Health Policy and Health Services Research at Henry Ford Health System. In this role she identified and analyzed key health system reform policies at the Federal, state and local levels to shape the policy agenda for the System. She also served as a liaison to coordinate and submit Affordable Care Act demonstration project applications for System business units.  Meredith has a Master’s of Public Health with a concentration in Health Policy and Management from Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. She also has a Bachelor of Arts in History from Duke University.

GHF is also pleased to announce our Executive Director Cindy Zeldin’s appointment to the Senate study committee for SR 561, the Consumer and Provider Protection Act. Full information about study committee appointments can be found here.


ICYMI: Social Media

#ACAHereToStay and #ACAIsWorking started trending in response the the Supreme Court decision

Our favorite tweet last month:

Our favorite infographic last month:

SCOTUS

 

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