Peach Pulse, March 12, 2015

Legislative Update

georgia-capital-buildingToday is the 29th day of the 2015 Legislative Session.  That means that tomorrow, Friday March 13, is crossover day.  GHF Executive Director Cindy Zeldin on what crossover day is and what it means for the rest of the legislative session.

The day before crossover day is a day of uncertainties.  Because of that, we will send out an email Monday with a full update and analysis on where legislation important to consumers’ health care stands.  For a compete list tracking health related bills – click here.

More Good News about Georgia’s Open Enrollment Numbers!

Last month it was announced that over half a million Georgians enrolled in coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Now a new report released by the Department of Health and Human Services contains even more encouraging data about the state of enrollment in Georgia. According to the report, 31% of Georgians that enrolled were between the ages of 18-34, which is a key age group since they tend to be healthier than older adults. Additionally, 90% of Georgians that selected a plan through the Marketplace received financial assistance in the form of Advanced Premium Tax Credits. The average monthly premium for Georgians using a tax credit was $73. Click here to see the full report.  Georgians for a Healthy Future’s ED talked with the Augusta Chronicle about why these numbers are so encouraging for Georgia.

Using your coverage

Preventive Services

coverageDid you know that thanks to the Affordable Care Act, you can receive certain preventive services at absolutely no cost? It’s true! One of the key requirements of the ACA is that insurance companies must cover recommended preventive services at no cost to the consumer – even if you haven’t met your deductible. These include services such as mammograms, annual physicals, colonoscopies, well-woman exams, cholesterol screenings, tobacco cessation, and many more. Click here for a full list of the preventive services that must be covered by all insurance companies. There is also an additional list of required services for women and a separate one for children. It’s important to take advantage of these no-cost preventive services to keep you and your family healthy. Evidence shows that preventive services can save lives and improve health by identifying illnesses earlier, managing them more effectively, and treating them before they become complicated and debilitating conditions.

If you have any questions about your insurance, please contact our Consumer Education Specialist, Whitney Griggs by email or at 404-567-5016 x 5

Medicaid Minute


States across the country are closing their coverage gaps!  The map above shows the 29 states (including DC) that have chosen to expand Medicaid.  Seven additional states are in discussions – below is a quick update on those states and their debates.

Idaho: Governor Butch Otter’s Medicaid Redesign Workgroup voted in November 2014 to recommend pursuing total health care system transformation, which includes Medicaid expansion. In addition to the Governor’s support, the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry is helping to draft Medicaid expansion legislation, and a coalition of hospitals, providers, and consumer groups is working to support that legislation.

Tennessee: In late 2014, Governor Bill Haslam announced he had reached a deal with CMS to close the coverage gap. Governor Haslam’s plan, Insure Tennessee, had the support of the hospital industry (who had agreed to fund any costs that would fall onto the state), the business community, and a strong consumer coalition. Unfortunately, Insure Tennessee failed to make it out of committee during special session in early 2015.

Utah: Governor Gary Herbert’s plan to close the coverage gap, Healthy Utah, has strong support from hospitals, businesses, county commissioners, the criminal justice community, and church leaders, and it recently passed in the Senate. However, the House has passed an alternative proposal, Utah Cares, that would provide much more limited coverage to only a portion of the population in the coverage gap. With just a few days left in the legislative session, it remains to be seen whether the legislature will reach a compromise that will close the coverage gap this year.

Maine: In 2013 and again in 2014, the Democratic-controlled legislature passed several bills to close the coverage gap, only to have them vetoed by Governor Paul LePage. Even though Republicans took control of the Senate in 2014, advocates believe there are still enough votes to pass compromise legislation. Hospitals, who had remained largely on the sidelines the past two years, are now fully engaged in the campaign to close the coverage gap there.

Alaska: Recently-elected Independent Governor Bill Walker announced plans to expand Medicaid, but there will likely be roadblocks in the Republican-dominated legislature. Hospitals are on board.

Montana: Governor Steve Bullock is strongly supportive of closing the coverage gap, and has his own proposal for doing so. It is unlikely that a bill will pass the Republican-controlled legislature.

Wyoming: Governor Matt Mead developed a plan to close the coverage gap in 2015, and a key House committee developed a competing plan. But just a few days after the special session to close the gap in Tennessee failed, the Wyoming Senate shot down Governor Mead’s expansion plan, and the House committee then pulled its bill.

Join us for Health Advocates Day at the Capitol!

informationPlease join us on Wednesday, March 25, from 8:45 am to mid-day for a morning of advocacy!  GHF will provide individuals and organizations with the opportunity to advocate for the important health issues that matter to you in the closing days of this legislative session.  You may want to advocate for closing the coverage gap, Medicaid payment parity, raising the tobacco tax, the Family Care Act, rural health care access, or another health policy issue.  You’re all invited to participate!  We’ll provide breakfast, an advocacy training, and an opportunity to share and network with other health advocates.

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

Sign Up for a Post-Legislative Session Webinar

Mark your calendars!  Please join GHF and Laura Colbert for a post-legislative session webinar. The webinar is free and will provide a review of bills, resolutions, and other actions taken by the Georgia General Assembly that will affect health care and health policy in our state.

Date: Thursday, April 9

Time: 12:00 – 1:00 EST

Sign up here!

Infographic of the Week

affordable-care-act-infographic GEORGIA WATCH