Peach Pulse, February 5, 2015

Legislative Update

With this week’s legislative update, we bring the Gold Dome to you! Our biggest update this week is that Senator Renee Unterman is making a $60 million appropriations ask in the state budget to maintain Medicaid payment parity. Medicaid payment parity is an effective strategy to increase access to health care services for low-income children and families enrolled in Medicaid (click here to learn more about what payment parity is and why it matters for health care access). Your GHF team was at the Capitol this week to talk with Senator Unterman about her proposal.


Also this week, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health held a hearing that included discussion about Medicaid payment parity. No decisions were made at the hearing but we expect the topic will come up again. What can advocates do?  Contact one or more of these legislators!

  1. Call or email Senator Unterman and thank her for leading the charge on this important initiative!
  2. Call or send an email to Senator Burke, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health, and Representative Butch Parrish, who chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Health, and thank them for their support on Medicaid payment parity.
  3. Contact Senate Appropriations Chair Jack Hill and House Appropriations Chair Terry England and let them know you support Medicaid payment parity.

Other issues we’re watching.

Medicaid Expansion

There has been no action to date on closing the coverage gap by expanding Medicaid. Please contact your legislators and the leaders of the Health and Human Services and Appropriations Committees to ask them to hold hearings on this important issue.

Click here to let your state senator and representative know that you support closing Georgia’s coverage gap.

Tobacco Tax

Georgians for a Healthy Future and our coalition partners continue to support a $1.23/pack increase in Georgia’s tobacco tax to bring us in line with the national average, decrease smoking rates, and bring in needed revenue for health care investments in our state. All eyes in the House and Senate have been on the transportation funding proposal unveiled last week on the House side, which did not include an increase in the tobacco tax. However, the Senate is expected to take a more diversified approach in this area and the possibility of a tobacco tax increase may be on the table. We will continue to monitor this issue and will let you know when advocacy opportunities arise.

Other Health-Related Bills

Senate Bill 1, which would require insurance companies to provide limited autism benefits for Georgians enrolled in certain individual and small group plans passed the Senate and is now on the House side. A hearing has not been scheduled for the bill on the House side.

Senate Bill 74, which would authorize tax credits for donors to health charity organizations, has been introduced in the Senate and referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

Knowledge is power: Terry’s enrollment story

Terry S“This is your health we’re talking about.  How important is it to you?”  Terry Stidom, an Atlanta health care consumer, cares about his health and is glad about his decision to get covered. “It became a no-brainer,” he said about his decision to enroll in a health plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace last year.  This year, with the increase in providers and plans available in Georgia, he was able to find an even more affordable, comprehensive plan.  What does he love about his plan?  “[It] includes medical, dental, vision, no deductible, low doctor visit co-pays, I get $20 a month in cash back just for going to a gym at least 8 times per month — the list goes on.”  While Terry researched his options and signed up on his own, he encourages others to seek help.  “As you sit and look at each plan, don’t be intimidated by the numbers.  If you’re unsure, call someone to help you.  Knowledge is power!”

Open enrollment ends February 15th – don’t miss out on the opportunity to find the plan right for you and your family.  Click here to find a Navigator in your area and get covered today!

If you or someone you know has an enrollment success story they’d like to share, let us know!  With your help, others can get covered and stay covered.

2015 Advocate’s Guides are Here!

Advocates_Guide_2015Each year Georgians for a Healthy Future develops our signature A Consumer Health Advocate’s Guide to the Legislative Session, and the 2015 editions are in! Whether you are an individual interested in contacting your legislators to let them know you care about health care issues or if you work for an advocacy group and want to get multiple copies for your volunteers, we’re happy to get the guides into your hands. We create them each year to help you be a better advocate.

In this year’s guide, you will find:

  • Detailed legislative process overview
  • Listing of all representatives and senators, their offices and numbers
  • Key contacts in the governor’s office and relevant agency staff
  • Members of key committees and subcommittees
  • Contact information for other health advocate organizations
  • Media contacts
  • Tips to make you an effective advocate

You can download a PDF version or contact Laura Colbert and arrange to pick up hard copies from GHF’s office.

Medicaid Minute

Welcome-to-Indiana-3x2-555x370CMS has approved Indiana’s plan to expand health care coverage for low-income Hoosiers through a waiver program known as Healthy Indiana.  This is great news for the 350,000 Indianans who will now have access to health care coverage. The Healthy Indiana plan, however, includes some features that raise concerns, such as a 6-month lock out policy for people with low incomes who can’t afford to make payments on premiums. Some of these features could create barriers to access. For a breakdown of the pros and cons of the Healthy Indiana plan and what advocates should be watching, see this analysis from our friends at the Georgetown Center on Children and Families.

Infographic of the Week



Your voice is needed!

Coverage Gap _ Georgia_EDITTEDWe all know how crucial closing the coverage gap is – it would improve access to health care services for low-income Georgians, bolster our state’s health care delivery system, and strengthen local economies throughout Georgia. We are asking our legislators to schedule hearings on this issue, and we need your help!  Last year, the legislature sent the message with HB 990 that they wanted to be part of the conversation around finding a Georgia solution to cover the uninsured.  We have yet to see them take steps towards opening up that debate.  Tell your legislators that it is time to close the coverage gap.  Send them an e-postcard telling them why you think covering the uninsured should be a priority for the 2015 legislative session.