Peach Pulse Archive 2012
THE UNINSURED IN GEORGIA
Mapping Georgia’s Uninsured
Approximately 1.9 million Georgians are uninsured, among the highest in the nation. Our new interactive resource, Mapping Georgia’s Uninsured, visually displays detailed information on Georgia’s uninsured population by age, income, and region. Click on the shaded regions within each map to see the total number of uninsured by age and income, uninsured rate, and the number of Georgians who would potentially be eligible for Medicaid within each region if Georgia policymakers chose to expand the program. This mapping resource is part of our Cover Georgia initiative to educate policymakers and the public about Georgia’s uninsured, the benefits of coverage, and the opportunity the Medicaid expansion presents for Georgia patients, consumers, providers, and the state’s economy. To view the interactive maps, click here.
Explaining the Coverage Gap
Georgians for a Healthy Future is spearheading Cover Georgia, a new coalition in support of expanding Medicaid in our state to cover the uninsured. As part of this on-going effort, each edition of the Peach Pulse will explore what is at stake for Georgia families and consumers as policymakers weigh this option in the coming months.
In 2014, Georgia consumers with incomes between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level (FPL), or roughly between $11,170 and $44,680 for an individual, will be eligible for tax credits to purchase health insurance through the new federally facilitated health insurance exchange. Adults with incomes below 100% FPL, however, will not be eligible for these tax credits. This is because the Affordable Care Act envisions individuals with incomes this low becoming eligible for Medicaid through an expansion of that program. If Georgia fails to adopt this expansion, this would create a “coverage gap,” leaving many Georgians with no options for affordable health coverage. This infographic helps explain how this would play out for two Georgians: Jan would make too much money to be eligible for Medicaid but would not make enough to access tax credits to purchase affordable private health insurance (a typical health insurance policy would consume nearly her entire income). Meanwhile, John would be able to purchase insurance in the exchange with a tax credit, making health insurance reasonable for his budget. This is simply not fair. All Georgians should have a pathway to affordable health care coverage. To learn more about Cover Georgia and to join our efforts, click here.
HEALTH REFORM UPDATE
Essential Health Benefits: HHS Issues Proposed Rule
As part of the Affordable Care Act, beginning in 2014 all new individual and small group health insurance plans must cover a core set of health care services and items across ten broad categories including hospitalization, prescription drugs, maternity and newborn care, and preventive services, among others. This core set of services and items is known as Essential Health Benefits. The benefits that health plans are currently required to cover vary by state. To ease the transition to essential health benefits in 2014, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) set out a process for each state to select a benchmark health insurance plan (which would include all benefits currently mandated in that state) that would then be supplemented to fill in any gaps and ensure health benefits across all ten categories are covered. Last week, HHS issued a proposed rule outlining each state’s benchmark plan. HHS is accepting public comment on all states’ proposed benchmark plans, including Georgia’s benchmark, until December 26th, 2012 (instructions for how to comment are included within the proposed rule). You can view the proposed benchmark plan for Georgia here. For additional information about the Essential Health Benefits process, see a recent Health Affairs article here. For additional information through a Georgia lens, see a recent Georgia Health News story on Essential Health Benefits here.
Governor Deal opts not to build health exchange, defaulting to federal exchange
On November 16th, Governor Deal announced that Georgia would not move forward with a state-based health insurance exchange. Instead, Georgia will have, by default, a federally facilitated exchange. While a state-based exchange would have been more easily tailored for Georgia and could have been more responsive to the needs of Georgia’s health care consumers, a federally facilitated exchange will still provide information, decision tools, and access to tax credits to help consumers find and purchase meaningful and affordable health insurance.
As the federal exchange gets built out, it will be important that federal officials consider the needs of consumers in states like Georgia. To that end, Georgians for a Healthy Future joined with consumer advocates in states across the country to submit a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommending that federal officials create a robust stakeholder planning process, ensure in-person consumer assistance programs meet consumers’ needs, and ensure that qualified health plans available on the exchange protect consumers and meet their needs. You can learn more about health insurance exchanges in Georgia by visiting Georgians for a Healthy Future’s health insurance exchange resource page here. We look forward to working with policymakers to ensure that the federally facilitated exchange is successful in Georgia and that consumers have better access to meaningful and comprehensive health coverage for themselves and their families.
EVENTS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
Show Your Support for Georgians for a Healthy Future on Georgia Gives Day
We are excited to announce that Georgians for a Healthy Future is taking part in Georgia Gives Day, a 24-hour, statewide giving event organized by the Georgia Center for Nonprofits. On December 6th, Georgia Gives Day encourages individuals to take a minute and realize how interwoven non-profits are in their lives and to feel inspired to give to their favorite non-profits through www.gagivesday.org.
At Georgians for a Healthy Future, we strive to provide a strong voice for Georgia consumers and communities on the health care issues and decisions that impact their lives. We hope you think we’re doing a good job! We would love your show of support on Georgia Gives Day. How has GHF impacted you? Your work? Your interaction with the health care system? If we’ve had any impact on you, we hope you’ll consider supporting us so that we can continue to do this important work. We are committed to working towards a day when all Georgians have access to quality, affordable health care and we need your help to do it.
For those “Super-GHF” fans (we think there are some of you out there), why not help us spread the word? Share our message with your friends and family. Post on Facebook and Twitter. Help us make the most out of Georgia Gives Day!
Health Care Unscrambled: A Look Ahead to the 2013 Legislative Session
Georgians for a Healthy Future is excited to announce that Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic will be the keynote speaker for our third annual Health Care Unscrambled policy breakfast on January 10, 2013! We hope you’ll join us for this important event that brings together health care consumer advocates, stakeholders, and policymakers for a look ahead to the biggest health policy issues facing Georgia in the coming year.
Jonathan covers domestic policy and politics for The New Republic, with a particular emphasis on social welfare, labor, and health care. He is also the author of Sick: The Untold Story of America’s Health Care Crisis—and the People Who Pay the Price. Jonathan has been recognized in the pages of the Washington Post as “one of the nation’s leading experts on health care policy” and in the New York Times as “one of the best health care writers out there.” An item from Time suggested he “may be the smartest, most well-sourced health care writer in the country.”
We are thrilled that Jonathan will be joining us for our signature policy event and we hope that you will too. Sponsorship opportunities are still available. Click here for more information about sponsorships. Click here to purchase tickets to the event. We hope to see you on January 10th!
Georgians for a Healthy Future’s Executive Director named a consumer representative to the NAIC again for 2013
Georgians for a Healthy Future’s Executive Director Cindy Zeldin was named a consumer representative to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) again for 2013. The program provides a structured way for health care consumer and patient advocates from around the country to provide input from the consumer perspective. Having representation from Georgia’s health advocacy community in this program helps to ensure the voices of health care consumers in Georgia are heard as important decisions about health insurance and consumer protections are made. Through the NAIC, state insurance regulators establish standards and best practices, conduct peer review, and coordinate their regulatory oversight. The work of the NAIC is particularly timely and important this year because they are developing model rules and regulations for implementation of the private health insurance reforms associated with the Affordable Care Act. To that end, earlier this year the NAIC consumer representatives collaboratively released “Implementing the Affordable Care Act’s Insurance Reforms: Consumer Recommendations for Regulators and Lawmakers,” available for download here. To view the NAIC press release announcing the 2013 consumer representatives, click here.MORE >