Peach Pulse: March 11, 2013

 Legislative Update

The General Assembly has now completed 30 days of its 40-day session. For a bill (except for the state budget) to remain viable, it must pass at least one chamber by the end of Day 30, known as Crossover Day. The Legislature will be in Session for Days 31 through 34 Monday through Thursday of this week. Below is a summary of bills that have passed at least one chamber and that Georgians for a Healthy Future is monitoring, as they could have an impact on Georgia health care consumers if enacted into law.

Legislation impacting health insurance consumer protections and access to insurance
A trio of health insurance related bills are moving through the General Assembly. Consumer health advocates are concerned about these bills because they could restrict information and choices for consumers. 

SB 236 would require insurance companies to indicate on statements sent to consumers that provide notice of premium increases the portion of any premium increase that is due to the Affordable Care Act. How this is determined would be left to insurance companies to calculate, and they would not have to disclose their methodology. There would also be no requirement to present information about any other factors leading to premium increases or to notify consumers about any cost savings or benefit enhancements they are receiving as a result of the Affordable Care Act. As such, this bill would result in consumers receiving incomplete and potentially misleading information.  SB 236 has passed the Senate and is in the House insurance committee.
HB 198 would require licensing, certification, and training for health benefit exchange navigators and would restrict their ability to assist consumers. While ensuring that consumers receive accurate information from navigators about their health insurance options is an important goal, HB 198’s restrictive language and potentially duplicative training requirements could deter community-focused nonprofits, whose participation in the navigator program will be essential in reaching vulnerable populations who have historically faced barriers to enrolling in health insurance, from becoming navigators or from providing appropriate consumer assistance. HB 198 has passed the House and is on the Senate floor today.

HB 389 would allow insurance companies to terminate, cancel, or non-renew conversion policies or any health insurance policies offered through the health insurance assignment system when guaranteed issue becomes available (with a 90-day cancellation period and a 90-day open enrollment period into new health insurance options made available through the Affordable Care Act). HB 389 has passed the House and is in the Senate Insurance committee.

Legislation that could impact Medicaid and PeachCare beneficiaries

HR 107 would create a joint study committee on Medicaid reform that would study current Medicaid policies and procedures, models in other states, and other aspects of the Medicaid program and report to the General Assembly and the Governor by December 31, 2013 with recommendations. HR 107 has passed the House.

SB 62 would create Federal and State Funded Health Care Financing Programs Overview Committee, a joint committee of the General Assembly. SB 62 has passed the Senate.

SB 163 would direct the Department of Community Health to examine and identify options for reforming Medicaid in Georgia, including but not limited to more use of managed care, with the purpose of bringing savings to the state. SB 163 has passed the Senate and is in the House Health and Human Services committee.

Commission on mandated benefits to convene this week

The Commission on mandated health benefits, created by legislation in 2011, is finally set to hold its first meeting tomorrow, March 12th, at 1:30pm in the Ninth Floor Training Room of the West Tower of the James H. Floyd Building.  The commission is charged with evaluating the social and financial impact of current and proposed benefit mandates. Read the Governor’s announcement about the commission’s first meeting here and to read a recent Georgia Health News article about the commission, click here.


Without Medicaid expansion, Georgia will continue to have high numbers of uninsured

Georgians for a Healthy Future is a proud partner in the Cover Georgia coalition. The coalition supports covering Georgia’s uninsured by taking advantage of the resources on the table through the Affordable Care Act to invest in our state’s Medicaid program. Governor Deal has thus far said that he does not support expanding Medicaid in Georgia. However, without the expansion, Georgians will represent an even larger portion of the nation’s uninsured and our state will have fewer resources to invest in our health system as compared to other states.

According to new data from Enroll America, nearly two-thirds of the nation’s uninsured live in 13 states, one of which is Georgia. Of these 13 states, 8 have indicated that thus far that they plan to implement the Medicaid expansion. More than 10 million of the nation’s uninsured live in 10 metropolitan areas, one of which is Atlanta. Of these 10 metropolitan areas, 7 are in states that have indicated they plan to move forward with the Medicaid expansion. There are approximately 1.9 million uninsured Georgians, about 861,000 of whom are located in metropolitan Atlanta.

In recent weeks, several governors have announced support for expanding Medicaid in their states. So far, 24 states and the District of Columbia are planning to participate in the Medicaid expansion, including 8 states with Republican governors. Most recently, Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey and Governor Rick Scott of Florida announced their support for expanding Medicaid in their states. To see a complete chart of where each state stands, click here.

Here are some new resources that you may find helpful in advocating for the Medicaid expansion.  They can also be found on the website:


Save the Date: NHeLP hosting Medicaid expansion webinars

The National Health Law Program (NHeLP) is hosting a series of webinars on the Medicaid expansion focused on five states: Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, and West Virginia.

  • Medicaid Expansion Messaging and Strategy (201) on Mar 14, 2013 1:00 PM EST: For this webinar they will have a guest from the Herndon Alliance talk us through Medicaid Expansion messaging. The format will include time for you to raise state specific examples to discuss messaging strategies in your states. We will also emphasize: all Medicaid and Med Ex messaging (not just recent surveys), messaging to policy makers, and how to actually get the message out there. It will also be an important chance to strategize about how to pursue Medicaid Expansion in your challenging environments.
  • Medicaid Expansion Benefits (301) on Mar 21, 2013 1:00 PM EST: This webinar will cover the complex rules about the services that would be available in the Medicaid Expansion. We’ll discuss the key advocacy opportunities for state advocates to improve coverage.

Medicaid expansion takes center stage at recent events

geeventOn February 26th, Georgians for a Healthy Future and Georgia Equality hosted a training and information session for social justice advocates who want to learn more about Medicaid. Entitled “Medicaid Advocacy 101,” presenters talked about the basics of the Medicaid program, how it is funded, and how expansion will benefit Georgia’s uninsured and our state’s economy.  Click here for more pictures from the event.



13863_10151312590032861_1754899292_nOn February 19th, the Cover Georgia coalition and more than 100 volunteer advocates brought the message about the importance of coverage to their elected officials under the Gold Dome.  Volunteers spoke to their State Representatives and Senators about why Georgia should take advantage of the federal dollars on the table to expand coverage to more than 650,000 uninsured Georgians through Medicaid.  For more pictures, click here and here.



cartercenterOn February 14th, Georgians for a Healthy Future’s Executive Director Cindy Zeldin participated as one of the featured panelists in a forum hosted by the Carter Center: “Improving Access to Mental Health and Addiction Services: Medicaid Expansion and Alternative Approaches – A Public Policy Forum.” Materials from the event are now available, including video highlights from the panel discussion and copies of the speaker presentations.