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Taylor County Symposium Draws Enthusiastic Crowd to Solve Local Problems

Last Thursday, Georgians for a Healthy Future, the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute, Partner Up for Public Health and the Georgia Rural Health Association returned to Butler, Taylor County for our second symposium in our Building a Healthy Georgia campaign.  The event focused on workforce and economic development, the value of access to care and the importance of public health.  Local community leaders, elected officials, key stakeholders, health care professionals and members of the general public  brought their expertise and passion to the conversation and helped highlight local challenges in having a readied workforce and a healthy community. We also discussed how the health of our communities means more than just access to care–it also means fiscal health. We were energized by the level of engagement and interest in working collaboratively to address our most pressing issues in the state and we look forward to continuing the dialogue!


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Medicaid and PeachCare Advocacy Opportunity

At the end of July, the Department of Community Health (DCH) awarded the Medicaid redesign assessment contract to Navigant Consulting.  The purpose of the redesign process is to analyze options to manage Medicaid and PeachCare financing, as well as explore improvements in the delivery of affordable, quality, health care for the programs and their recipients.  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 would like to participate in these focus groups, you can submit an application online here. The deadline for submissions is Tuesday, September 13th.


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Medicaid important to Georgia’s health and economy


By Dr. Harry J. Heiman and Cindy Zeldin


This column was originally published in the Athens Banner-Herald on August 26, 2011.


The recent debt-ceiling debate and prime-time display of our elected leaders’ inability to work together epitomized the challenges of advancing thoughtful and impactful public policies. Following the deal in Congress, news coverage quickly moved to speculation about the “super committee,” tasked with slashing an additional $1.2 trillion in federal spending over the next decade. Lost in the coverage, and seemingly in the discussion, has been the potential impact of the committee’s decisions on vital services for the most vulnerable in our communities. At a time when the number of people without health insurance continues to rise, Medicaid and other programs that support health care access for low-income children, families, and the disabled remain at risk.


Reduced federal and state funding for Medicaid and the health safety net would be particularly traumatic for Georgia, which has been hit hard by the economic downturn and suffers from high poverty, high unemployment, and high rates of uninsured people. Nearly two million Georgians — one in five — are uninsured, and more than one in six live in poverty. These numbers are even worse in many of Georgia’s rural and inner-city communities. At 37 percent, Athens-Clarke County has one of the highest rates of uninsured people in the state. The consequence of these worsening economic indicators is increased distress experienced by Georgia’s most vulnerable citizens. This distress is reflected in Georgia’s dismal health indicators: high obesity rates, high infant mortality rates and overall poor health outcomes.


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Pathways to Coverage

Georgians for a Healthy Future has a new fact sheet out today about how to access health insurance in Georgia. Please share with patients, consumers, providers, community organizations, or anyone for whom it can serve as a resource. The fact sheet can be downloaded by clicking here.




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Workforce Shortages in Georgia

Guest Blog by Michelle Putnam, HealthSTAT

If you think you’d like to get a physical or a check-up in 2014, you better make your appointment now.  That’s what some would have you believe about the shortage of doctors come 2014, when health coverage will be expanded to about 33 million more people.  The truth is, Georgia has long experienced a workforce shortage, ranking behind most states in the ratio of patients to physicians, nurses, and physicians assistants.  The problem is three-pronged: we do not have enough health professionals choosing to practice primary care, we do not have an adequate collaborative care system, and our health professional students do not receive enough interdisciplinary education.

 

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PCIP Update

By Cindy Zeldin


The Pre-Existing Condition Plan (PCIP) is a new health insurance option for uninsured Georgians who have been denied insurance because of a pre-existing condition. The PCIP, authorized by the Affordable Care Act, is intended to provide coverage for consumers who are locked out of the insurance market due to a pre-existing condition. To be eligible, applicants to the PCIP must be uninsured for at least six months and have a letter of denial from a private insurer. As of February 1st of this year, 399 Georgians had signed up for coverage through the PCIP. The premiums are subsidized entirely with federal dollars and no state funds are associated with the program. In fact, the Governor’s FY 2012 budget proposal realizes savings of $680,263 from the movement of previously uninsured hemophilia patients who had been accessing life-saving drugs through a state program into the PCIP, where those drugs are now covered. You can download our new fact sheet on the PCIP here.




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Live United Interview: Accessing Health Care in Georgia

Georgians for a Healthy Future ED Cindy Zeldin is interviewed by Milton Little, President of the United Way of Metro Atlanta, about health care access in Georgia and how the new health law can help.



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Potential Health Care Cutbacks Cause for Concern

Recent attempts within states to scale back vital health care programs for our most vulnerable citizens at a time when they are critically needed is cause for concern. The move began with Arizona Governor Brewer’s request to the federal government for a waiver from stability protections that prevent states from restricting eligibility levels for the Medicaid program. In response, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal’s spokesperson was quoted by Bloomberg news organization earlier today that while the Governor has not offered specific cuts, he “would happily work on such a proposal.”

 

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Treat the poor or lose tax-exempt status, landmark case states

Guest Blog by Holly Lang, Georgia Watch

In a March ruling that could hold implications for all nonprofit hospitals, the Illinois Supreme Court stripped not-for-profit Provena Covenant Medical Center of its exemption from property tax, stating that the hospital did not provide enough charity care to justify that exemption.

 

A hospital earns its tax-exempt status through the benefits it provides to the community, the most of which being the free or reduced-cost care for those eligible for such assistance. Such care is deemed indigent or charity care.

 

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Calling All Volunteers!

 

On Saturday, March 27th at the Georgia International Convention Center in Atlanta the Georgia Free Clinic Network and the National Association of Free Clinics are sponsoring a Free Health Clinic for the state’s uninsured residents.  Based on the success of similar events country-wide, we anticipate serving 1800-2200 uninsured Georgians.  Similar free clinics have been sponsored by the NAFC in Houston TX, New Orleans LA, Little Rock AR, Kansas City MO, and Hartford CT.  These events have been documented by the Dr. Oz Show, Good Morning America, CNN and MSNBC.  The Atlanta event will also be a focus of the national press.   To view videos of some of previous one-day clinics, click here.

 

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