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.
“If work requirements are removed from the governor’s plan, many more Georgians could gain coverage,’’ said Laura Colbert of the advocacy group Georgians for a Healthy Future. “This would be a positive move, although other barriers to coverage are still in place and the plan would still cover fewer people than a full Medicaid expansion.’’
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 during a Wednesday 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.'”
“As we’ve seen with many, many big policy changes, this is a lot more about politics than the actual data and policy, which the vast majority of Georgians and Americans agree on,” said Laura Colbert, executive director of Georgians for a Healthy Future, who added that she expected a lawsuit challenging the state’s work requirement waiver to be filed soon.
The job losses during the pandemic have created a big coverage deficit, said Laura Colbert of the consumer advocacy group Georgians for a Healthy Future.
“It is really encouraging to see the Biden administration reopen up the ACA marketplace so people have another chance to get enrolled,’’ she said. “The decision to promote and market the reopening is particularly important because many Georgians who are eligible for ACA coverage don’t know that they qualify or that they may be eligible for financial help to lower their costs.”
More money could be a big help for problems Georgia has struggled with since before the pandemic, including high maternal mortality and prevalence of substance abuse and HIV infection, said Laura Colbert, executive director of the nonprofit Georgians for a Healthy Future, but the state will receive money from the federal government to fight COVID-19. The agency received more than $1 billion in COVID-19 relief as of Jan. 15, and more is likely to come.
“It is disappointing to see a flat public health budget, but I (balance) that with they are receiving additional dollars from Congress,” Colbert said. “The COVID-19 relief funds are going to be targeted specifically to COVID-19 relief, but state funds are needed to keep up activities on all of these other fronts, like substance use and maternal mortality and HIV.”
“If this lawsuit is successful, it will prevent Georgia consumers from becoming unnecessarily uninsured or underinsured,” said Laura Colbert with Georgians For A Healthy Future, a consumer advocacy group.
“This is especially important in the context of COVID-19, as many people lose their jobs and their health insurance and turn to the safety net of the [Affordable Care Act] marketplace,” she continued.
“Georgia needs to think about how we build and fund a mental health and substance use system that matches the needs of our population,” Laura Colbert, executive director of nonprofit Georgians for a Healthy Future, told CNHI. “To date, we haven’t really done that.”
According to a 2020 report by nonprofit Mental Health America, Georgia ranks last out of all states for access to care for mentally ill residents — which includes access to insurance coverage and treatment. Providers have only been further strained since the pandemic upended health systems.
“Across ages, geographies and racial groups, there’s been a really big spike in depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug use, and other kinds of mental health conditions,” Colbert said of increased prevalence during the pandemic. “… There’s just this incredibly expanded need on top of kind of the constant need that we had before the pandemic. Because the need has expanded, we just need so many more resources to help handle it. There’s a pandemic surge and there’s also a mental health and substance use surge happening at the same time.”
Another event that’s moved online is the signature event for Georgians for a Healthy Future, Health Care Unscrambled, where experts, advocates and policymakers get together to talk about public health policy, which often includes a case for the state to expand Medicaid.
The event wraps up on Thursday with a panel discussion on the impact of COVID-19 on racial and mental health disparities.