NEWS & MEDIA
In The News
Georgians for a Healthy Future is frequently cited in news articles about health care issues, ensuring the consumer perspective is heard. Read news stories featuring Georgians for a Healthy Future’s perspective below.
“There is a legal requirement that people with IDD and other mental disabilities be housed in as close to their community setting as they can be,” Whitney Griggs, senior policy manager with Georgians for a Healthy Future, said during a virtual program Thursday.
“We also know that a lack of access to affordable, accessible and sustainable community housing is associated with an increased risk of institutionalization, homelessness and poor health and social outcomes among people with IDD,” Griggs said.
Laura Colbert is the executive director of Georgians for a Healthy Future, and organization that is helping Medicaid recipients determine their eligibility.
She said during the pandemic, the federal government barred states from cutting off Medicaid coverage in order to make sure people had health insurance.
“Some folks who are currently covered by Medicaid will be transitioning to the ACA marketplace because of the unwinding, and we don’t want that process to be any more confusing or hard than it already is,” said Georgians for a Healthy Future Executive Director Laura Colbert. “If Georgia switches to a state-based marketplace in the middle of the unwinding, that means that will put some extra burden on our Medicaid agency. They’ll need to update their notices. They’ll need to help Georgia Medicaid members understand that if they are disenrolled and they’re eligible for ACA coverage, that they need to go to a new place instead of healthcare.gov. That will be in an added difficulty.”
New Legislation and Continued Failure to Expand Medicaid Put Georgia’s Health Care Safety Net on Uncertain Path
During testimony for the 2023 legislative session, Georgians for a Healthy Future compared the state-based marketplace to a manual vintage Porsche and the federally-facilitated marketplace to a 2022 Honda Accord with GPS navigation. To ensure a successful marketplace launch that focuses on keeping Georgian’s covered, the state should delay implementation of the state-based marketplace and stick with the known and familiar federal marketplace until after the completion of the Medicaid unwinding.
The state market will be different from the one Kemp originally envisioned. He had wanted to place insurance offerings in the hands of private brokers who could sell both policies offering the bundle of coverage required under the Affordable Care Act, as well as policies with lesser benefits. Those policies might have been cheaper, but Laura Colbert, the executive director of Georgians for a Healthy Future, said they would have been worse for consumers.
“That would have really rolled Georgia back to the bad old times where insurers really had the leg up on consumers, where it was incredibly hard to compare plans,” Colbert said, calling Kemp’s original plan a “non-marketplace.”
A state-based market could have some advantages, Colbert said. For example, she suggested Georgia could extend its enrollment period past the normal Nov. 15-Jan. 15 window. She also suggested offering to let people buy health insurance using their income tax refunds, and a one-stop application for Medicaid, Peach Care insurance for children and the state marketplace.
“Some state-based marketplaces have done some really innovative things. I think it’s TBD on whether Georgia will get there or not,” Colbert said.
“Ideally, a state-based marketplace will allow for a more tailored experience for consumers and allow the state to innovate,” said Laura Colbert, executive director of Georgians for a Healthy Future, which supports the ACA. “I have some concerns about whether the state has the vision for that.”
Colbert said the work on the new marketplace comes as the state is simultaneously working on two other health priorities. The state is preparing a first-of-its-kind limited Medicaid expansion; and Georgia, along with other states, has also just begun a post-pandemic re-evaluation of all 1.3 million Medicaid enrollees, thousands of whom are expected to be dropped from Medicaid and will need to enroll in ACA plans.
Whitney Griggs, a health policy analyst with Georgians for a Healthy Future, said the move helps the state avoid paying billions of dollars per year in fees to use healthcare.gov.
“A state using a state-based marketplace can customize their outreach methods, their outreach documents, their navigator programs to meet the state’s needs rather than using generalized materials and documents,” Griggs said. “The state has realized they can save money on the user fees and repurpose that money for its customized outreach and resources to really make it Georgia-specific.”
Several states run their own exchanges under the umbrella of the ACA, among them California and New York. Griggs said the rollouts had been mostly successful, but noted a history of several people being dropped from their health insurance coverage when transitions occurred. Georgia would still need approval from the Biden administration to join that group.
“I have seen the state agencies, both DCH and DHS, come forward with really good-faith efforts to plan as best they can,” Laura Colbert, executive director of Georgians for a Healthy Future, said. “The trickiest part of this seems to be maybe staffing for both DHS and DCH … hiring enough Medicaid eligibility workers. Making sure they are trained properly and prepared to do that job over the next 12 to 14 months is going to be very difficult in this work and labor environment.”
“There will be far fewer uninsured folks as a result of this Medicaid renewal process in states with Medicaid expansion. Georgia is not one of those, so we will see very large coverage losses,” Laura Colbert, executive director of Georgians for a Health Future, which is a nonpartisan patient advocacy group, said during a recent Protect Our Care program.
Colbert said the state agencies have made “really good faith efforts to plan as best they can,” but noted that it falls to the governor and lawmakers to ensure they have the resources they need.