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.
“My plan is to go ahead and put it in code so that when that state of emergency goes away, that coverage won’t go away,” Sen. Dean Burke, a Bainbridge Republican, said during a panel discussion this week sponsored by Georgians for a Healthy Future.
The program would start in 2022 and run through 2025. According to Whitney Griggs, health policy analyst for Georgians for a Healthy Future, the program would start by covering 94% of costs, and go up from there. Unlike other marketplace plans, those who qualified could enroll at any time.
Griggs said that about 270,000 Georgians make less than 100% of the federal poverty line, too little to qualify for subsidized plans through the healthcare marketplace. Another 184,000 make between 100% and 138% of the federal poverty line and can qualify for subsidized health care plans, but would likely move to the Medicaid work around for less expensive health care.
Griggs said the proposal is a good one, but a state-led expansion would be ideal.
“Medicaid is built to operate for low income individuals, which these folks qualify as, so you know, there’s wrap around services, there’s continuous eligibility, it’s easier to operate than enrolling in private insurance,” she said.
Warnock, according to his office, has supported both state-led expansion and the federal work around, and his staff declined to go into benefits or downsides on either approach. He has also opposed a proposal in the House Build Back Better Act to penalize states that refuse to expand by cutting federal funds for rural hospitals.
“We’re hopeful that the federal solution passes, that we’re able to get a robust enrollment, and show policy makers and leadership just how – the difference that this coverage makes for quality of life,” Griggs said. “I think the hope is once you give people coverage it’s harder to take it away.”
That price tag would be much higher than for standard Medicaid expansion, which would cover more people, said Laura Colbert of the consumer advocacy group Georgians for a Healthy Future. Georgia is one of 12 states that have not expanded Medicaid under provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
Laura Colbert of Georgians for a Healthy Future, a healthcare advocacy group, said Kemp is now left with three options: appealing the decision and “callously” leaving thousands of Georgians with no pathway to insurance; move forward with the rest of the waiver plan; or fully expand Medicaid.
“We urge Governor Kemp and the Georgia General Assembly to take a clear-eyed look at these choices and examine the costs of our state’s on-going refusal to offer a hand-up to uninsured Georgians simply because they don’t have enough money in their wallets,” Colbert said.
“That’s the most we’ve ever had enrolled,’’ said Laura Colbert, executive director of the consumer advocacy group Georgians for a Healthy Future. She said the enrollment spike helps show that Republican Gov. Brian Kemp’s plan to scrap healthcare.gov and replace it with a privately run portal isn’t needed.
Laura Colbert, the executive director of Georgians for a Healthy Future, a consumer advocacy group that also helps sign Georgians up for coverage, said the big enrollment boost this year came thanks to increased subsidies and advertising — but also a new state reinsurance program that helped lower premiums and attract more insurers into the state’s marketplace. She, too, worries about what will happen if the subsidies expire.
“If nothing else, consumers are price-sensitive, and an expiration of the enhanced subsidies will definitely lead to fewer enrollments,” she said. “When extra help is in place, people really appreciate it. But when it goes away, they are often more frustrated by it than they appreciated the help in the first place.”
Laura Colbert, with Georgians for a Healthy Future, said one clue that parity is not working is how often behavioral health is not covered by Georgia insurance plans. She spoke about mental health parity earlier this year during a town hall meeting hosted by the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse.
“Georgia families are forced to navigate a really confusing insurance system in the middle of what might be a substance use crisis or a mental health crisis,” Colbert said. “You may be denied coverage for substance use services because the insurance company says they’re not ‘medically necessary.'”
“It will do monumental things for people who get covered and can go to the doctor and get prescriptions filled and have some peace of mind that they can take care of their health and their family’s health if something happens while they have this coverage,” Laura Colbert, executive director of the patient advocacy group Georgians for a Healthy Future, said.
But even so, Colbert called the plan “a four-year coverage gap fix.”
“There is no certainty about who our elected officials will be in four years and whether there will be an appetite to extend this program,” she said.
“These gaps really make it so that Georgians can’t afford needed health care. If they receive health care, they’re left with medical debt, or they have to make really tough choices about their health versus other necessities,” Colbert said.