Peach Pulse: October 8, 2012

Medicaid Expansion and Cover Georgia

Georgia policymakers are currently weighing the opportunity to cover an estimated 650,000 uninsured Georgians through an expansion of the Medicaid program. Under the Affordable Care Act, states can create a new category of eligibility for Medicaid to cover low-income individuals and families, financed almost entirely with federal dollars. Implementing this expansion is the only viable way to cover Georgia’s low-income uninsured, and it will pump resources into our state’s health care delivery system. We can’t miss this opportunity to improve access to health care and to strengthen Georgia’s health care economy, but we need your voice to make it happen.

Health care consumer and patient advocacy groups, providers, stakeholders, and community groups are coming together under the Cover Georgia umbrella to show support for expanding Medicaid, and we invite you to join us. If you are interested in getting involved in this discussion, please contact Amanda Ptashkin.

In November, the Cover Georgia campaign will unveil a website full of resources to help you better understand and advocate for the Medicaid expansion with policymakers and in your community. In the meantime, please visit Families USA’s Medicaid Expansion Center, with links to studies and reports about the value of Medicaid, and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ Tool Kit for State Advocates on the Medicaid expansion.

Update on Essential Health Benefits (EHB)
As part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), beginning in 2014 all health insurance plans sold in the private individual and small group markets must include a minimum package of benefits to ensure that all consumers purchasing health insurance have access to comprehensive health care services. In a process outlined late last year by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, states were instructed to choose a benchmark plan and supplement it to fill any gaps (the essential health benefits package must, under federal law, include items and services within ten broad categories, described here). Georgia chose the default option, the largest small group plan sold within the state, as our state’s benchmark plan. According to the Georgia Department of Insurance, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will review and supplement the plan. Later this fall, HHS is expected to issue a notice of proposed rule-making listing each state’s minimum essential health benefits package. The National Academy for State Health Policy is also tracking all states’ progress on essential health benefits. You can view their latest chart here.

The 2013 Budget
Over the next couple of months, budget recommendations will be finalized by the Governor and the Office of Planning and Budget (OPB).  Proposed cuts are being made across the board and will potentially affect patients, providers and communities across the state.  For a detailed look at the budget prospects for the coming year, click here for the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute’s 2013 Budget Primer.

Recent Events
Keepin’ it rural with the Georgia Rural Health Association
Georgians for a Healthy Future’s Cindy Zeldin and the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute’s Tim Sweeney gave a joint presentation at the Georgia Rural Health Association’s annual “Keepin’ it Rural” conference. We discussed the uninsured in Georgia and how expanding Medicaid could cover these Georgians and improve access to care. All presentations from the event are available on the Georgia Rural Health Association’s website here.

Georgia consumer health leaders go to Washington

Consumer health advocates from across the country met with officials from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last week to discuss implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through the consumer lens. We discussed Medicaid, health insurance exchanges, and the new consumer protections within the ACA, among other topics.



Meeting with the Greater Augusta Healthcare Network

Georgians for a Healthy Future was invited to be a guest speaker at the Greater Augusta Healthcare Network’s September meeting. We had a great conversation about health reform, Medicaid, and the uninsured in Augusta.









Upcoming Events

October is shaping up to be a busy month for health advocates and there are some opportunities we wanted to be sure to share with you:October 10th 12:30pm-2:30pm: Join the Center for Black Women’s Wellness for their community forum, “Getting to the Root: Breast Cancer Disparities,” for health care professionals, breast cancer survivors, caregivers and community advocates. GHF Outreach and Advocacy Director, Amanda Ptashkin, will present on health care reform and what it means to breast cancer survivors, caregivers and advocates.  Registration is closed for lunch but those interested can still attend at 12:30.  Click herefor more information.

October 19th 8am-11am: Join the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute for their Fall Forum, “Expanding Health Coverage in Georgia” at the Carter Center.  Join them for this highly anticipated discussion on the benefits of the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.  Click here to register.

October 23rd 12pm-1pm: Join GHF and the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse for a one-hour webinar on substance use disorder policy in Georgia and what the ACA and Medicaid expansion mean for those suffering from or serving people with substance use disorder.  To RSVP, email Amanda Ptashkin.