Peach Pulse: September 2, 2011

What’s New in Georgia


Health Insurance Advisory Committee Recommends Creation of Georgia Exchange

Throughout the summer, the Governor’s Health Insurance Exchange Advisory Committee has been meeting regularly to study whether Georgia should develop a health insurance exchange. At the August meeting, the committee voted to recommend legislation for a Georgia exchange in 2012 and created subcommittees around governance, insurance markets, operations, and contingency plans to begin exploring design options for an exchange.  Minutes from this meeting are available here.

Authorized by the Affordable Care Act, health insurance exchanges are state-level competitive health insurance marketplaces that hold the potential to transform our broken health insurance system into one that is transparent, competitive, and that provides consumers with the information, tools, and access to tax credits that can make health insurance more understandable and affordable. But only if we get it right. As this process unfolds, we need your voice to build support for an exchange that will work for all of Georgia’s health care consumers and not one that will work just for the insurance industry.

You can learn more about this issue by downloading Georgians for a Healthy Future’s issue brief about how to build a consumer-friendly exchange here. You can also read additional news reports on the exchange herehere, and here. A list of subcommittee members is available here. The next meeting of the full exchange committee is scheduled for September 22nd at 10am, location TBD. To see how Georgia’s progress compares to that of other states, click here for a spreadsheet describing progress across all states compiled by state refor(u)m.

New Information and Tools for Georgia Consumers Subject to Proposed Health Insurance Premium Increases

Georgia insurance companies proposing to increase health insurance premiums by 10 percent or more must now submit information to the Georgia Insurance Department, which will operate a rate review program to determine if the proposed rate increases are justified. The requirement, which went into effect on September 1st, is part of the Affordable Care Act, and Georgia has chosen to implement a rate review program in compliance with this provision. Consumers will also have access to information about the proposed rate increases, including the rationale behind them, and an opportunity to file comments through a tool on beginning in mid-September. A preview of this tool is available here. Information about Georgia’s decision to operate a rate review program is available here and here.

Medicaid Redesign Process: Upcoming Stakeholder Forums

At the end of July, the Department of Community Health (DCH) awarded the Medicaid redesign assessment contract to Navigant Consulting.  As part of the contract, Navigant will hold up to 30 stakeholder focus groups across the state, in cities yet to be announced.   Part of the state environmental scan, the intent of these focus groups is to provide a forum for Georgia-specific input from providers, other agencies, advocates, and others affected by Medicaid and PeachCare to provide useful information to both Navigant and DCH as this process unfolds.  If you or your organization wouldlike to participate in these focus groups, you can submit an application online here.  To learn more about DCH and Navigant’s plans, click here.  The deadline for submissions is September 13th.

2012 and 2013 Budget Update

DCH announced last week that Georgia’s Medicaid and PeachCare programs are facing budget shortfalls of more than $200 million in the current fiscal year (FY 2012) and more than $350 million next year (FY 2013). The agency is not proposing any cuts to manage the shortfall; rather, the department is simply seeking new money from the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget (OPB). Left unsaid is what would happen if new funding is not made available to DCH. Significant provider reimbursement rate cuts would likely be necessary.

In addition to the funding request, the DCH proposal includes provisions to allow (currently ineligible) state employees to enroll their children in Georgia’s PeachCare program (if they meet existing income-eligibility guidelines). This proposal would lead to higher state costs in the PeachCare program, though these costs would be more than offset by state savings in the State Health Benefit Program.

The DCH Board is expected to act on the department’s proposed budget in September, after which the request would be submitted to OPB.  To read the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute’s overview of the FY 2012 budget and budget trends, click here.

DCH Awarded Grants for PeachCare Outreach and Enrollment and Public Health Infrastructure Strengthening

Georgia’s Department of Community Health (DCH) recently received two federal grants from the Department of Health and Human Services to improve outreach and enrollment for Medicaid and PeachCare as well as improve the public health infrastructure in Georgia.  The first grant, worth $2.5 million, will allow DCH to use technology solutions to better coordinate enrollment and renewal in Medicaid and PeachCare programs.  The second grant, worth $499,738, will go to strengthening public health infrastructure for improved health outcomes and to help train and educate public health workers. To learn more about these grants, click here and here.

Events and Forums

Building a Healthy Georgia Started in Augusta and Continues in Butler

Last week, Georgians for a Healthy Future, Voices for Georgia’s Children and Health STAT kicked off our Building a Healthy Georgia campaign in Augusta. With a focus on children’s access to care and health care workforce issues, more than 60 local community leaders, key stakeholders, health care professionals and members of the academic community participated in the event and brought their expertise and passion to the conversation.  We are looking forward to working collaboratively to address our most pressing health care issues in Augusta and we look forward to continuing that dialogue in other cities across the state.   You can view the power point presentation from the forum here, and see photos from the event here.

Next Thursday, September 8th from 3 PM to 5:30, Georgians for a Healthy Future, the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute and the Georgia Rural Health Association will be in Butler, Taylor county for Building a Healthy Georgia: Workforce Development and the Value of Ensuring Access to Quality Health Care.  The focus is on economic and workforce development issues, particularly as they relate to both local fiscal and physical health.  You can find out more about the Butler event by clicking here.