Peach Pulse: July 15, 2011

Action Alert
Tell Your Member of Congress and Georgia’s Senators:  Medicaid Matters!

As Congress debates deficit reduction proposals, Medicaid is under threat of being cut. The Ryan proposal, passed by the House of Representatives, would make drastic cuts to Medicaid, such that in 10 years Medicaid would be cut by 33%. To put this into context, if a cut of this size were put into effect today, it would translate to $1.9 billion in lost federal funding for Georgia and place $4.4 billion in Georgia business activity and more than 38,000 jobs related to our state’s health care economy at risk.

Medicaid cuts would not only threaten Georgia’s fragile economic recovery, but also threaten access to health care and health outcomes for low-income families, seniors, and people with disabilities. In fact, a landmark study released last week by a team of top-notch researchers led by Harvard and MIT using a randomized control design, the gold standard for health services research, has found that having Medicaid coverage results in improved access to care, improved financial security, and improved reported health status relative to being uninsured. More details about the study are available here and here, and the full report can be downloaded by clicking here.

Please contact your member of Congress and send the message:  Don’t jeopardize Georgia’s fragile economic recovery and the health and economic security of seniors, people living with disabilities and low-income families.  Don’t cut Medicaid. If you don’t know who your member of Congress is, you can find out this information along with contact information here.

What’s New in Georgia


Georgia Health Insurance Exchange Advisory Committee Work Continues

The Health Insurance Exchange Advisory Committee, charged with determining whether Georgia should establish a state-based health insurance exchange, held its second formal meeting on July 12th. During the morning session, the committee heard from two existing small business exchanges, HealthPass in New York and Florida Health Choices, to help inform the committee’s work. In the afternoon session, the committee discussed potential pros and cons of developing a small business and/or individual health insurance exchange in Georgia. Committee meetings are open to the public, and the next committee meeting will be held on August 16th (time and location TBD). There are also two upcoming small business listening sessions, one taking place in Albany on July 20th and one in Dalton on 26th of July.  For more information on these sessions, email Amanda Ptashkin.  The committee is to make preliminary recommendations to the Governor by September 15th and final recommendations by December 15th. Georgia Health News covered this week’s meeting (article here), and all meeting materials are posted on the state’s health reform website here. This week, the federal Department of Health and Human Services released a proposed rule on exchanges, providing additional flexibility for states as they move forward with their exchange planning. Information about the rule is available here, and a summary analysis from the Health Affairs blog is available here.


Medical Loss Ratio Update: Ensuring Value for Georgia’s Consumers

Health care consumer advocates in Georgia are on standby as the Center for Consumer Information & Oversight (CCIIO) reviews the Georgia Insurance Commissioner’s application for an adjustment to the new medical loss ratio (MLR) rules that require insurance companies to spend at least 80% of the premiums their customers pay on medical services and quality improvement activities, as compared to administrative expenses, or else provide rebates to consumers. Designed to spur insurance companies to operate more transparently and to provide value for the paid premium dollar, the new rules are a step forward for consumers. When Georgia’s application is complete, CCIIO will accept public comment. Georgians for a Healthy Future will be filing comments in collaboration with a range of other groups, and when the comment period opens, we will keep you updated as to sign-on opportunities on this important issue. Kaiser Health News has a video explaining MLR here, and Georgia Public Broadcasting has a story about Georgia’s adjustment request here.


Community Health Board Approves Provider Reimbursement Rate Cuts

The Georgia Department of Community Health Board met earlier this week and approved a .5 percent cut in reimbursement rates for providers participating in the Medicaid and PeachCare for Kids programs (final adoption of rules). The board also proposed increasing co-payments for Medicaid patients and adding co-payments for the first time for PeachCare for Kids patients ages 6 and older (initial adoption of rules). Both changes reflect decisions made by the General Assembly during the 2011 Legislative Session. However, there is concern among advocates and health care providers that these changes will diminish access to care. For more information about these changes, see a recent Georgia Health News article here and a recent AJC article here. For materials from the Department of Community Health board meeting and information about upcoming meetings, click here.

F as in Fat: Georgia Rankings

According to a new report released by the nonprofit Trust for America’s Health and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows that Georgia is the 17th most obese state, with an adult obesity rate of 28.7% and a children’s obesity rate of 21.3%.  To read that report, click here.  To read a recent AJC article on the report, click here.

What Health Care Reform Means for Small Businesses in Georgia

This week, Georgians for a Healthy Future and Small Business Majority held the first in a series of presentations focused on small business owners and how health care reform will affect them, their families and their bottom line.  From the tax credits that are already available for businesses who filed 2010 tax returns to the creation of the small business exchange, health care reform will have a positive impact on many of Georgia’s small businesses.

To learn about an upcoming webinar or educational forum, email Amanda Ptashkin.   To view the power point presentation from this week’s webinar, click here.

Building a Healthy Georgia: Augusta

If you live in the Augusta area and have an interest in policies and practices aimed at the obstacles to accessing care for children in the region, join Georgians for a Healthy Future, Voices for Georgia’s Children and Health STAT for our symposium, “Building a Healthy Georgia: Exploring Policies and Practices to Improve Children’s Access to Health Care Services.”

Event Details:

WHEN:             Thursday, August 25th, 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM

WHERE:           The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center of Augusta

CONTACT:       For questions, please contact Amanda Ptashkin or at 404-890-5804.

While we request RSVP, please note that there is no cost


For more information about the event, click here.  Don’t live in Augusta?  Think of at least one person who you know in the area who would be interesting in being involved in this conversation and tell them about it!  Stay tuned for more information about upcoming events in a town near you!