Peach Pulse: August 12, 2010

National News

President Signs FMAP Extension

On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed and the President signed into law an extension of the enhanced federal Medicaid funding, known as FMAP. The additional $16 billion in Medicaid funding will bring approximately $230 billion to Georgia, staving off potential deep cuts to essential health care services. The federal legislation also contained an additional $10 billion in education funding for states. Both Georgia Senators voted against the enhanced FMAP extension. To find out how your House member voted, click here.  For those elected officials who voted in favor, please be sure to thank them for their support.

Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act Unanimously Passes Senate

Last week, the U.S. Senate passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The act requires the Secretary of Agriculture to establish national nutrition standards that would apply to all food sold on school campuses during the day, including food from vending machines. The new act will provide $4.5 billion to improve the National School Lunch Program, promote the health benefits of breastfeeding, and establish new national nutritional standards to help children eat healthier foods at school. With a childhood obesity rate of 31.7% in Georgia, this hits close to home. To learn more about the legislation, visit the Food Research and Action Center.

Senator Chambliss has helped to lead this effort through his work on the Senate Agriculture Committee and now the measure moves to the House where it is expected to pass.

What’s New in Georgia

Budget Revenue Estimates Show Case for Cautious Optimism

Last week, Gov. Perdue announced revenue collections for the state in July 2010 of $1.15 billion, which represents a 4.7% increase over last July’s numbers. According to the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, revenues must grow by 4.3% each month to meet the Governor’s revenue estimates.  While the increase is cause for cautious optimism, a fuller picture of how actual FY 2011 revenue collections match up with FY 2011 revenue estimates won’t emerge until we have several months of data. If revenue collections fall short of revenue estimates, further budget cuts may be in store.

Kids Count Report

On July 27, the Annie E. Casey Foundation released its 21st Annual Kids Count Data Book.  This annual snapshot of America’s children, ranks states and provides county-level information on 10 measures of well-being.  Among the 50 states, Georgia remains ranked at 42 for overall child well-being, seeing no improvement over last year.  Here is a brief snapshot during one year in Georgia:

–       501,892 children live in poverty (nearly 1 in 5 children)

–       5,493 babies are born to girls ages 15-17 (15 each day)

–       14,014 babies are born low birth weight, less than 5.5 pounds (38 babies each day)

More information about Georgia and Kids Count data can be obtained from the Georgia Family Connection website.

Trauma Tag Fee Referendum

This November, Georgia voters will vote on a referendum to levy a $10 car tag fee dedicated to funding Georgia’s trauma care system. The tag fee, which would raise an estimated $80 million a year, would help the already existing 16 trauma hospitals in the state and be used to entice other hospitals to enhance their facilities to become trauma centers. Georgia’s trauma death rate is 20 percent higher than the national average and an estimated 700 Georgians die every year because they do not receive trauma care within the critical 60-minute window — the “golden hour” — immediately following injury. To read more about this issue, go to the Healthy Debate GA blog and read “Is it Worth $10 to Save a Life?”

Childhood Obesity in Georgia

A new report highlights the seriousness of the growing obesity epidemic in Georgia. In 2007, adult obesity prevalence in Georgia varied by county from 23.3% to 35.6%, with a statewide prevalence of 29%. Among children between the ages of 10 and 17, our state’s obesity and overweight rate is 31.7%.

The health consequences of rising obesity include: having risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol; developing asthma, sleep apnea, and Type 2 diabetes.  There are many initiatives under way to combat this alarming trend, including efforts to get children physically active, increase the amount of quality physical education they receive in school as well as making sure they have nutritional options while there.  For example, see The First Lady’s Let’s Move campaign and legislation such as the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

Here in Georgia, there are several groups and organizations committed to fighting the alarming obesity trends.  The Center Helping Obesity In Children End Successfully (CHOICES) helps prevent obesity and eliminate the overweight epidemic in children by enabling them to make better choices as it relates to food and lifestyle.  To learn more about ways they are making a difference, visit their website.  Youth Becoming Healthy (YBH), based in Albany, GA, was created in order to reduce the burden of childhood obesity in the community. This program was created in memory of CEO Pamela Green-Jackson’s brother Bernard Green, who died in February 2004 from the effects of obesity-related illnesses. YBH has facilities in six middle schools and one elementary school in Albany and provides free fitness and nutrition education to about 350 students a year.  To learn more, visit their website.  Also, check out the Policy Leadership for Active Youth (PLAY) and their Childhood Obesity section. PLAY is a collaborative effort between universities, state agencies, professional associations, and not-for-profit organizations in Georgia.  The initiative is led by the Institute of Public Health at Georgia State University, with support from Healthcare Georgia Foundation. You can visit their website here.

County-by-County Data on Health Insurance Now Available

The Census Bureau recently released county-by-county data on health insurance. This information is useful in determining gaps in access and affordability across the state and will help guide decision makers’ efforts to address these disparities in the future.

Last month, Small Area Health Insurance Estimates (SAHIE) released 2007 estimates of health insurance coverage by age, sex, race, Hispanic origin, and income categories at the state-level and by age, sex, and income categories at the county-level.  The data indicates that Echols County, Georgia has the highest percent of uninsured at 37.6 percent, while Telfair County has the lowest at 12.4.  Additionally, looking at all demographics, in sheer numbers, Gwinnett County has the highest number of uninsured with 163,870, representing 22.2 percent of the population there.  To learn more about the breakdown in each county as well as how Georgia compares to the rest of the country, visit the SAHIE website.

The Affordable Care Act and You

New Resources Available for States to Build Health Insurance Exchanges

On July 29, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the availability of up to $1 million in grants per state to help states begin work to establish health insurance exchanges. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Exchanges are to be operational by 2014 and will provide eligible consumers and businesses with a “one-stop shop” where they can compare and purchase health insurance.  This round of funding will give states resources to conduct initial research and planning for the exchange. Each state has the option to establish and operate its own Exchange or partner with another state or states to operate a regional Exchange. If a state decides not to create an Exchange for its residents, HHS will establish one on their behalf.

HHS also issued a request for comment asking states, consumer advocates, employers, insurers, and other interested stakeholders to provide input as HHS develops the rules and standards Exchanges should be required to meet. Comments are due by October 4, 2010.  To read the complete request for comment, visit

The Impact of Community Health Centers

This week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the availability of up to $250 million in grants for New Access Points for the delivery of primary health care services for underserved and vulnerable populations under the Health Center Program. Organizations eligible to compete include public or nonprofit private entities, including tribal, faith-based and community-based organizations who meet health center funding requirements.

Once fully implemented, the ACA will result in an additional 32 million Americans with health insurance coverage, with about half of these individuals likely to be covered through an expansion of the Medicaid program. Policymakers identified community health centers as ideal locations to provide this additional care and included an additional $9.5 billion in operating expenses for these centers.  The $250 million in grants are just the start of the investment in community health centers across the country.

According to state-by-state data recently released by The Center for American Progress, the total projected economic activity of community health centers by 2015 in Georgia will be $663 million–$412 million of which will be as a result of health care reform.  In terms of job growth, community health centers expect to see 5,696 employees there with 3,541 of those jobs attributable to efforts undertaken by the ACA.  These community health centers serve vulnerable populations, regardless of their ability to pay and will continue to provide a much needed service to communities across Georgia.  In 2008, 275,743 patients were seen because of these institutions and with the availability of new funding, more patients will have greater access and more communities will be served.  To view the interactive map, visit