Peach Pulse: January, 23, 2015

Coverage Day at the Capitol 

IMG_0771Please join us this coming Tuesday, January 27, from 9 am to noon for a day of advocacy!  GHF and the Cover Georgia coalition have planned a full day of activities to raise awareness about the important role that coverage plays in the health and financial security of all Georgians and to ask our legislators to close Georgia’s coverage gap.  More than 15 organizations are already participating, and it’s not too late to join us! We’ll provide breakfast and lunch, an advocacy training, and opportunities to share your materials and personal health care stories at our afternoon Capitol Rotunda display.

To sign up, click here.  If you have any questions, please contact Laura Colbert.

The 2015 Legislative Session is Underway!

georgia-capital-buildingThe legislative session opened last week, and health care is already a hot topic. Here is what we have learned in the first week and a half:

It’s budget week! Governor Deal released his budget on Friday, and legislators have been holding budget hearings all week. Here are two aspects of the health care budget that have our attention:

  • The proposed budget eliminates State Health Benefit Plan (SHBP) coverage for non-certificated school employees (bus drivers, custodians, etc) who work less than 30 hours a week.  State officials estimate it will affect more than 11,000 state employees.  We’re still sifting through the details, but we’re very concerned that some of those employees may fall into the coverage gap if they lose coverage through the SHBP.
  • There is no money in the state budget to sustain the primary care reimbursement rate increase that was temporarily funded with federal dollars. This temporary bump  made it easier for patients in Georgia and other states to get medical appointments and access care.
There has also been some early momentum at the Capitol around an increase in the tobacco tax, one of Georgians for a Healthy Future’s legislative priorities! As bills and budget items impacting health care in Georgia are introduced and discussed, we will keep you posted and identify opportunities for advocacy. We’ll be at the Gold Dome throughout the session so look for updates and alerts in each Peach Pulse!

Thank you for making Health Care Unscrambled a huge success!

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Thank you to those of you who joined us for our fifth annual Health Care Unscrambled policy breakfast on January 15! This year’s event featured two powerhouse panels: a bipartisan legislative discussion and a panel that focused on the recent experiences of Kentucky and Arkansas, two Southern states that are moving forward with innovative plans to cover their uninsured and improve population health, and featured the insights of a national expert.

This year’s Health Care Unscrambled also provided an opportunity for Georgia health care advocates, policymakers, stakeholders, and consumers to come together just as the 2015 Legislative Session got underway to focus our attention on the most pressing health policy issues facing our state, including a robust discussion about the coverage gap.  Senator Dean Burke said that while last year he would have said there was a 0 out of 10 chance for Georgia to close the gap, this year he moved it to a 5 out of 10.  We’re excited about these improved chances and will continue to advocate for movement this legislative session!

We wrapped up the event with a reveal of our 2015 legislative priorities, which you can find here. You can read Georgia Health News’s coverage of the event here.

GHF goes to Washington

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This week, Cindy and Anna are representing Georgians for a Healthy Future at Families USA’s Health Action 2015 conference!  We’re getting inspiration from national leaders, learning about best practices from experts and advocates doing great work around the country, and sharing our own experiences advocating for Georgia health care consumers. GHF’s Executive Director Cindy Zeldin spoke on a workshop panel about how to advocate for consumers enrolled in private health insurance. Check out Facebook and Twitter through Saturday for conference updates!

Story collecting with Mercy Care

Mercy Care EventGHF partnered with Mercy Care to kick off the legislative session by collecting the stories of people who fall in the coverage gap.  As the governor was being inaugurated and our legislators were being sworn in, we talked to Mercy Care’s patients how health care coverage would help them.  Everyone we talked to expressed that health care coverage would help them go back to work, take better care of their family, or better manage their health.  We will be sharing these stories on Coverage Day through social media and in person as we talk with policy makers about the importance of closing the coverage gap. HealthSTAT and the National Health Care for the Homeless Council were critical partners for this story collection effort!

 If you are in the coverage gap and would like to share your health care story with us, click here .

Medicaid Minute

Last year, the number of uninsured Americans declined, fewer adults reported difficulties paying for medical bills and medical debt, and fewer adults delayed care because of cost. These encouraging findings, which come from the Commonwealth Fund’s Biennial Health Insurance Survey, are great news for patients and consumers. These coverage and access gains, however, were not experienced evenly across the country. People living in states (like Georgia) that haven’t expanded Medicaid were more likely to be uninsured and to face burdensome medical bills than those living in states that have expanded Medicaid. Let’s not leave Georgia patients and consumers behind-let’s close the coverage gap!

Infographic of the week

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