Peach Pulse Archive 2015
Today marked the 19th day of the 2015 Legislative Session (almost at the halfway point)! Crossover Day, the 30th legislative day and the deadline for a bill to pass its chamber of origin to remain viable for 2015, is set for March 13th. Sine Die, the 40th and final legislative day for the year, will be April 2nd.
As part of this week’s legislative update, we caught up with Senator Chuck Hufstetler and spoke with him about his proposal to increase the state’s tobacco tax by $1.23, which would bring Georgia up to the national average. According to a fiscal note released this week by Georgia State University at legislative request, this increase would yield more than $500 million in new revenue. To read more about the tobacco tax, download our one pager. To see the media coverage, check out our “In the News” page.
Other issues we’re watching include:
The State Budget
Our friends over at the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute have put together an analysis of the health care spending within the proposed 2016 state budget. Click here to read GBPI’s health care budget overview.
Medicaid Payment Parity
This week, the House Appropriations Health Subcommittee held a hearing on the FY 2016 Budget. A range of organizations and individuals provided testimony in support of payment parity, citing the evidence that shows provider rate increases result in better access to care for patients and consumers. Georgians for a Healthy Future spoke in support of payment parity at the hearing.
Closing the Coverage Gap
Closing Georgia’s coverage gap by expanding Medicaid would open a pathway to health insurance for approximately 300,000 uninsured Georgians. Two bills have been introduced to address Georgia’s coverage gap (HR 226 and SB 38), although neither is expected to receive a hearing. Please thank the cosponsors of these bills for their support and show your support by filling out a postcard that we’ll mail to your legislators!
More than half a million Georgians enroll in Marketplace health insurance
Open Enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace ended Sunday and over half a million Georgians enrolled in plans through the Marketplace! Georgia’s enrollment was the fourth highest of states using the Federally Facilitated Marketplace, trailing only behind Texas, Florida, and North Carolina. The state’s enrollment numbers passed the 500,000 mark in large part due to a last minute surge in sign-ups. This year’s enrollment numbers greatly exceed last year’s exchange enrollments of 316,543. Nationally, 11.4 million Americans selected plans or were automatically re-enrolled through the Marketplace. Click here to learn more about Georgia’s enrollment numbers.
For Georgians who begun the enrollment process prior to the deadline but, due to issues with either healthcare.gov or call centers, were unable to complete their enrollment, CMS has extended a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). These people are “in line” and still eligible to enroll this year. This SEP will end February 22nd. If you or someone you know thinks they qualify for this extended enrollment period visit HealthCare.gov or call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596.
Miss open enrollment? You may still be able to get coverage!
Open Enrollment has officially ended but some Georgians that missed signing up during the three month period may be able to still get coverage. Those “in line” during this last three days of Open Enrollment who were unable to select a plan due to long call center wait times or technical issues have until Sunday, February 22 to enroll. In this circumstance, coverage will begin March 1st. Otherwise, consumers who have a “qualifying event” may be able to get coverage through a Special Enrollment Period. Special Enrollment Periods can occur at any time during the year and are usually triggered by specific events. These events include life changes such as a marriage, birth, change in eligible immigration status and a permanent move. Another type of event that could qualify consumers is a loss of other health coverage. These types of events could include an involuntary loss of employer coverage, loss of Medicaid coverage, and a death or divorce that results in a loss of coverage. In most cases, the Special Enrollment Period lasts for 60 days after the qualifying event occurs. To learn more about what types of events could trigger a Special Enrollment period, click here. If you think you may qualify, visit https://www.healthcare.gov/get-coverage or https://localhelp.healthcare.gov/ to find in-person assistance in your area.
Additionally, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services just announced a Special Enrollment Period for tax season for consumers who were penalized for not having coverage in 2014 and are not currently enrolled in health insurance. To qualify for this Special Enrollment Period consumers must also attest that they were not aware of the penalty for not having health insurance until after the end of Open Enrollment (February 15th , 2015) because they filed their 2014 tax return after that date. This Special Enrollment Period will begin March 15th and end April 30th, 2015. Click here to learn more about the announcement.
GHF welcomes new Consumer Education Specialist
Whitney joined Georgians for a Healthy Future this week as our Consumer Education Specialist. In this role, Whitney will educate consumers who have questions about how to understand and use their health insurance as well as assist consumers who encounter problems with their insurance plan. Whitney will also be on the lookout for patterns that can help inform GHF’s policy and advocacy work in the area of private health insurance. Whitney comes to GHF from the Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia, where she was lead health navigator. As a health insurance navigator, Whitney provided enrollment assistance for the Health Insurance Marketplace to consumers in rural Georgia. In this role she also conducted extensive outreach throughout the state to inform consumers about the Affordable Care Act and the new health insurance options available under the law. Prior to her role as a navigator, Whitney worked for Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies as an Information and Resource Specialist for their health care referral service, called the Powerline. In this position she helped find and verify health care providers throughout the state for the referral line. Whitney has also worked in the Child Life Division at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Whitney earned her B.S. in Psychology with a focus on Biological Psychology from Clemson University. Whitney can be reached at email@example.com. Please welcome her to Georgians for a Healthy Future!
National partner features our collaboration with the Diverse Elders Coalition and the Bhutanese Association of Georgia
Check out Community Catalyst’s blog featuring the collaboration between GHF, the Diverse Elders Coalition, and BAG to help Bhutanese refugees living in Clarkston, Georgia enroll in health insurance!
New data released from Kentucky show the success of Kentucky’s Medicaid expansion program. Here are a few quick highlights.
- 375,000 Kentuckians got covered
- Hospitals gained more than $500 million in just the first year
- 12,000 new jobs were created (with an additional 28,000 jobs expected over the next 7 years)
- Uncompensated care in hospitals fell 60%
- Estimated costs of expansion in current and subsequent biennial budget are more than offset by savings and new revenues generated from economic activity resulting from new health care spending
- Choosing not to expand would have cost the state about $100 million
Fill out our survey and tell your legislators know it’s time for Georgia to close its coverage gap!
Infographic of the Week