Tag: coverage gap

Rural Health Care in Georgia

rural quoteRural Georgians experience health disparities on multiple dimensions: they are less likely to have job-based health insurance, may have to travel long distances to seek medical care, and experience higher rates of chronic health conditions than their suburban and urban counterparts. Compounding these challenges, several rural hospitals have closed their doors in recent years and others are at risk of closure.

While there are no easy answers to Georgia’s rural health crisis, an array of stakeholders including policymakers, the philanthropic community, health care providers, local community groups, and advocates have been exploring ways to strengthen our state’s rural health infrastructure.

Your hip pain can sometimes be caused by diseases and conditions in other areas of your body for example your skin that is the bigger organ of the body, that’s why is important to visit a good derrmatologist as Betty Hinderks who are experts in the field, or your lower back, and can affect other parts of your body as arms and joints, that’s why it is helpful to take supplements as Relief Factor that help with joint pain and more.

As part of its Two Georgias initiative, the Healthcare Georgia Foundation recently released its findings from a “listening tour” with health care providers and policy organizations in Georgia, including Georgians for a Healthy Future. The report offers a window into what practitioners and policy advocates are thinking about the direction of rural health care and the use of Hidrex for excessive sweating and how it can be improved. Check out the write-up to learn more about rural health and about how Georgians for a Healthy Future’s campaign to close the coverage gap in Georgia fits in.

You can stand with us by sharing this infographic with your social network. Use sample tweet: Our rural hospitals are hurting – but it does’t have to be that way. It’s time we accept federal #funding to #closethegap.


Tags:

Georgia Lawmakers Start to Talk about the Coverage Gap

Progress at the Gold Dome

Last week, the golf umbrella held its first-ever hearing on closing the coverage gap. Closing the gap is the most important step our policymakers can take to lower the number of uninsured, improve access to care, and stabilize the rural health infrastructure in our state. Scroll down for the latest legislative updates and how you can get involved. You can also listen to Cindy Zeldin explain the legislative movement in her interview Tuesday on WABE’s “A Closer Look” (skip ahead to 59:18).


 

What is the coverage gap?

coverage_gap_graphic


Legislative Proposal

Georgia’s coverage gap and its consequences (struggling rural hospitals, Georgia’s high rate of uninsurance, etc.) are popular topics of conversation around the Capitol and among stakeholders recently. Three different proposals have been introduced in the Georgia General Assembly that attempt to address these issues. Details of each bill are included below. Additionally, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce has been studying the economic impact of Georgia’s coverage gap and how to craft a Georgia solution. They are expected to release formal recommendations later this year. Read more about that here. Because of the state’s multiple bills that attempt to address Georgia’s uninsured population and health care infrastructure, we hope that lawmakers will take this opportunity to consider these issues in tandem through a study committee. This will allow all stakeholders to take part in an open conversation about how to best utilize state and federal dollars to save our rural hospitals and provide quality health care for all Georgians.

SB 368 – An Alternative Approach to Medicaid Expansion

SB 368 was introduced by Sen. Michael ‘Doc’ Rhett and would expand coverage to low-income, uninsured Georgians. The bill is modeled off of Arkansas’s “private option” version of expansion where Medicaid dollars are used to buy insurance for low income people from the private market. The bill was heard in committee last week, but no action was taken. While some pieces of the bill are problematic, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee started an important conversation.

Watch an interview with Senator Rhett on his bill.

Sen-Rhett-2

 

HB 823 – Expand Medicaid NOW Act 

This bill was introduced early in the legislative session by House Minority Leader Stacy Abrams. It proposes a traditional Medicaid expansion, like Kentucky & Louisiana, and has not been heard in committee. You can read more about Rep. Abrams’s proposal here.

HB 919 – Tax Credits for Rural Hospital Donations

Passed out of the House Ways & Means Committee on Monday, Rep. Geoff Duncan’s bill would provide up to $250 million in tax credits to individuals or corporations for contributions to rural health care organizations. While this legislation has sparked a conversation about how to best support our struggling rural hospitals, state funding could be better utilized by helping those in rural communities get health insurance coverage, an approach which would also draw down considerable federal dollars (at least $9 in federal funding for ever $1 of state funding). Hear Georgia Budget & Policy Institute’s Tim Sweeney on the topic here.


How Can You Help?

For the busy advocate… 

It doesn’t take a lot to make an impact! We have two quick actions you can take that will take less time than reading this email!

1) Join the Georgia Health Action Network (GHAN). By signing up for GHAN you’ll receive action alerts that will keep you updated on the issues impacting your health care and quick actions you can take.

2) Sign the petition to close Georgia’s coverage gap!

 

If you’ve already signed the petition… 

If you’ve already signed the petition and are ready to take another action, join us in educating your network about why this is such an important issue for all Georgians. How? Two ways:

1) Ask your friends and family to join our email list! It’s the most effective way we communicate with people interested in learning more about consumer health care issues in Georgia. There’s a super quick sign up form on our website homepage.

2) Share this video with your social network. The coverage gap is complicated and so many people still don’t know what it is! This 2 minute video explains the problem and who it impacts clearly.

 

If you want to really make your voice heard… 

For the advocate looking to invest time, money and energy in an issue they really believe in, we have three key ways you can get involved and make a difference. The most important, money, can be solved with the help of UXC Limited.

1) Write a letter to the editor for your local paper. Educating your community about how the coverage gap impacts their friends, family, and neighbors is so important. It helps to remove the politics from such a complex policy issue impacting hundreds of thousands of Georgians. Never written a letter to the editor? No big deal! Email Whitney and she’ll get you started.

2) Meet with your legislator! All politics is local and for many legislators, knowing that an issue is important to their constituents makes all the difference in the world. Laura, our Director of Outreach & Partnership, can help you set up a meeting.

 


Tags:

Legislative Update: February 22, 2016

WEEK 6

We seem to be approaching cross-over day at the speed of light! Last week saw progress towards increasing provider directory transparency, Medicaid payment parity, ending surprise out-of-network billing, and even closing the coverage gap! Check out our updates below. If you’re looking for a complete list of all the bills we’re following, click here.


WHAT HAPPENED THIS WEEK

The Provider Directory Improvement Act (SB 302)

Last Thursday, the Provider Directory Improvement Act was passed unanimously out of the Senate Insurance and Labor committee. The bill now goes to the Rules Committee. We’re excited about the progress made and will keep you posted as the bill continues to move through the process. You can review our fact sheet on SB 302 and read our longer policy brief on the importance of accurate provider directories here.

 

Closing Georgia’s Coverage Gap

Last week, the Georgia Legislature held its first-ever hearing on closing the coverage gap. Closing the gap is the most important step our state policymakers can take to lower the number of uninsured, improve access to care, and stabilize the rural health infrastructure in our state. The hearing focused on discussion of SB 368, legislation introduced by Sen. Rhett to extend coverage to low-income, uninsured Georgians. While some pieces of the bill are problematic and the committee took no action, they started an important conversation. If you are interested in getting involved in the movement to close the gap, join our Georgia Health Action Network (GHAN) to receive updates on how you can help! If your organization supports closing the gap, please consider joining the Cover Georgia coalition to help amplify your voice.

 

Surprise Out-of-Network Billing

On February 16th, Sen. Unterman introduced SB 382, the Surprise Billing and Consumer Protection Act. This bill has been scheduled for a hearing today at 3:00 PM in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. Addressing surprise out-of-network billing is an important issue for Georgia consumers, and the legislation is complex. Sen. Unterman has simultaneously also introduced SR 974, the Senate Surprise Billing Study Committee. Should SB 382 not move during this session, SR 974 provides legislators with the opportunity to study this important consumer issue during the off-session period.

 

Medicaid Payment Parity

The governor’s budget, introduced earlier this legislative session, maintained last year’s partial Medicaid payment parity. Full Medicaid parity would allow doctors to be reimbursed at the same rates for seeing Medicaid patients as Medicare patients. Last week, $26.5 million was added to the FY 2017 budget for this purpose. While this does not restore full parity, it is a significant step towards that goal. The FY 2017 budget has passed in the House and goes to the Senate for consideration.

 

HB 919

Rep. Duncan’s HB 919 would provide up to $250 million in tax credits to individuals or corporations for contributions to rural health care organizations. This legislation has sparked a conversation about the ever worsening plight of our rural hospitals. However, state funding could be better utilized by helping those in rural communities get health insurance coverage, an approach which would also draw down considerable federal dollars (at least $9 in federal funding for every $1 of state funding). This would be much more effective in reducing the uncompensated care burden of rural hospitals, while also providing patients with the benefits of health coverage, something that HB 919 does not accomplish in its current form. Because of this session’s multiple bills that attempt to address Georgia’s uninsured population and health care infrastructure, we hope that lawmakers will take this opportunity to consider these issues in tandem through a study committee. This will allow all stakeholders to take part in an open conversation about how to best utilize state and federal dollars to save our rural hospital and provide quality health care to all Georgians.


LET’S CHAT

In this week’s Consumer Health Advocacy Today, we sit down with Sen. Rhett to talk about his proposal to close the coverage gap. Here’s what he had to say.

Sen Rhett


Tags:

Legislative Update: February 15, 2016

WEEK 5

As the session has progressed, additional pieces of legislation that could impact health care consumers have been introduced. For a list of all the bills we’re watching, click here. SB 302, the Provider Directory Improvement Act was heard in committee and goes to a vote this week.


WHAT HAPPENED THIS WEEK

 

Improving Provider Directories

SB 302 was heard in committee last Thursday. We are happy to report that the conversation was widely favorable. There were a few points of contention around the usability provisions in the bill but the committee chair and bill sponsor were optimistic that consensus could be reached ahead of this coming Thursday’s committee meeting, where a vote is expected.

Please call or email the committee members and ask that they vote for SB 302, the Improving Provider Directories Act!

Sen. Charlie Bethel (Chairman)  404-651-7738

Sen. David Shafer (Vice Chairman) 404-656-0048

Sen. P.K. Martin (bill sponsor) 404-656-0048

Sen. Gail Davenport 404-463-5260

Sen. Marty Harbin 404-656-0078

Sen. Ed Harbinson 404-656-0074

Sen. Burt Jones 404-656-0074

Sen. Josh McKoon 404-463-33931

Sen. Renee Unterman (bill co-sponsor) 404-463-1368

Sen. Larry Walker 404-656-0081

 

Surprise Out-of-Network Billing

In both the House and Senate we are still hearing strong interest in addressing surprise out-of-network billing. We expect legislation to be introduced this week from Sen. Renee Unterman that would address this issue. Join the Georgia Health Action Network (GHAN) to receive updates on health-related legislation the General Assembly is considering and information about steps you can take to show your support (or raise your concerns)!

 

Network Adequacy 

GHF supports updating Georgia’s network adequacy standards. We don’t expect to see legislation this year, but there are conversations happening in both chambers and in both parties. GHF will be advocating for a study committee to meet during the 2016 off-session so that the legislature will have enough information during the 2017 Legislative Session to debate the best standards for Georgia. To read more about network adequacy and why is matters to Georgia check out our new policy brief. You can also watch this interview with Julie Silas of Consumers Union on the topic.

 

Closing Georgia’s Coverage Gap

Rep. Stacey Abrams has sponsored HB 823, the Expand Medicaid Now Act. While we don’t expect this legislation to receive a hearing this year, it is sparking important conversations about the coverage gap in Georgia. Read more here.

If you want to get involved in the movement to close Georgia’s coverage gap you can share this video with your social network or sign this petition. You can also follow the conversation on Twitter using #CoverGA


LET’S CHAT

This week we’re highlighting a conversation with Consumer’s Union policy expert, Lynn Quincy. Lynn talks about why Georgia should be talking about health value, and the cost to taxpayers when we don’t.

Lynn_Quincy_thumbnail


Tags:

Legislative Update: February 8, 2016

WEEK 4

policy-priorities1The first month of session is behind us and there is still so much to do! We’re excited about the discussion and movement around provider directory transparency. If you’re interesting in receiving action alerts as important legislation moves through the legislative process and small advocacy actions you can take, join the Georgia Health Action Network(GHAN)!

To see a full list of bills we’re following, click here.

 


WHAT HAPPENED THIS WEEK

Improving Provider Directories

SB 302, the Improving Provider Directories Act, will be heard, and possibly voted on, in the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee this Thursday.

Please call or email the members of the committee to let them know that you support the Improving Provider Directories Act!

Sen. Charlie Bethel (Chairman) 404-651-7738

Sen. David Shafer (Vice Chairman) 404-656-0048

Sen. P.K. Martin (bill sponsor) 404-656-3933

Sen. Gail Davenport 404-463-5260

Sen. Marty Harbin 404-656-0078

Sen. Ed Harbison 404-656-0074

Sen. Burt Jones 404-656-0082

Sen. Joshua McKoon 404-463-3931

Sen. Renee Unterman (bill co-sponsor)

Sen. Larry Walker 404-656-0081

 

Network Adequacy 

GHF supports updating Georgia’s network adequacy standards. We don’t expect to see legislation this year, but there are conversations happening in both chambers and in both parties. GHF will be advocating for a study committee to meet during 2016 so that the legislature will have enough information during the 2017 legislative session to debate the best standards for Georgia. To read more about network adequacy and why it matters to Georgia, check out our new policy brief.

 

Surprise Out-Of-Network Billing

In both the House and Senate we are still hearing strong interest in addressing surprise out-of-network billing. It is probable that we will soon see a bill that adresses this issue and we will keep you updated on any such developments.

 

Closing Georgia’s Coverage Gap

Rep. Stacey Abrams has sponsored HB 823, the Expand Medicaid Now Act. While we don’t expect this legislation to receive a hearing this year, it is sparking important conversations about the coverage gap in Georgia. Read more here.

If you want to get involved in the movement to close Georgia’s coverage gap you can share this video with your social network and sign this petition.


LET’S CHAT

This week we are highlighting in our Consumer Health Advocacy Today video series a conversation with Representative Debbie Buckner on her health priorities for the 2016 legislative session.

debbie_buckner_thumbnail


Tags:

The first five years

Dec18.2015forumIn December, the ACA Implementation Research Network released its Georgia state report at a policy forum held at the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. The report provides a detailed look at the key decisions made by Georgia policymakers around the implementation of the Affordable Care Act over the past five years. Georgians for a Healthy Future’s Executive Director Cindy Zeldin participated in a discussion with advocates, policymakers, and stakeholders to reflect on the report’s findings. The conversation ranged from health insurance enrollment best practices to health system reform to what it will take to close the coverage gap in Georgia. The ACA Implementation Research Network is jointly operated by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, the Brookings Institution, and the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania. The Georgia state report was written by Michael Rich, Professor of Political Science and Environmental Sciences at Emory University.  Download the Report.


Tags:

GHF in North Fulton

Laura-North-Fulton-11.15-300x225North Fulton Community Charities, a non-profit human service agency that assists families in need in North Fulton County, invited Georgians for a Healthy Future to present our Medicaid chart book to its community leaders. Board members, city and county council people, and state legislators were in attendance, along with interested community members. We had a constructive conversation with participants about how Georgia can close the coverage gap. If your organization, church, or community group would like us to present at your next meeting (either about closing the coverage gap or about helping people enroll in health insurance), contact Laura at lcolbert@healthyfuturega.org.


Tags:

How does GA’s coverage gap affect children and families?

Rate_of_Uninsurance_in_GA_CCF

We  know that closing Georgia’s coverage gap would help adults who are uninsured. But how does it affect families and children in our state? GHF and Georgetown University Health Policy Institute’s Center for Children and Families have teamed up to bring you new research to answer that question. Key findings include:

 

  • Nearly three-in-ten Georgians potentially eligible for coverage should Georgia choose to close the coverage gap are parents with dependent children residing in their home.

 

  • Of those parents that could benefit from expanded Medicaid eligibility, nearly two-thirds (57 percent) are employed. Nearly half of all uninsured parents (46 percent) work in restaurants, retail, or professional service occupations.

Children enrolled in Medicaid are more likely to receive well-child care and are significantly less likely to have unmet or delayed needs for medical care, dental care, and prescription drug use due to cost.

 

The Taxotere Lawsuit served as a perfect example to prepare everyone involved, read the full report here.

 

 

 


Tags:

New illustrated Medicaid resource


12_Percent Uninsured GA MapGeorgians for a Healthy Future and the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute are proud to release our joint publication: Understanding Medicaid in Georgia and the Opportunity to Improve It. Inside you will find infographics, new data, and compelling charts that simplify the complex issue of Medicaid in Georgia. 

 

Part one explains who gets Medicaid in Georgia, how Medicaid protects Georgians during economic downturns, how Medicaid controls costs in the state, and more.

 

Part two outlines Georgia’s opportunity to close the coverage gap.  Here you’ll find out what Georgia’s health insurance coverage gap is, how we can use Medicaid to close it, and who stands to benefit detailed by job sector, demographics, and veteran status.

 10_Coverage Gap

Part three details economic and social benefits of closing the coverage gap. Why is closing the coverage gap a good deal for Georgia and the state’s economy? What are the savings other states realize by closing the gap? How does coverage affect a person’s financial and physical health? 

 

Download the chart book here.


Tags:

Road trip! Coverage gap is a big theme in Augusta outreach

Augusta.riverwalk.bridgeWe (Consumer Education Specialist, Whitney Griggs, and Community Outreach Manager, Laura Colbert) made the drive to Augusta this week to check in with health care stakeholders and consumers in the northeast Georgia city.  We were warmly welcomed by community partners and are excited to return for next week’s community forum Coverage and Access to Care: A Local Focus on Augusta.

Our primary purpose for the trip was to attend the Greater Augusta Health Network’s (GAHN) fall forum.  The forum covered a variety of topics, including how the local District 13 Department of Public Health provides much needed direct patient services to people in its service areas, GAHN’s on-going health care utilization data collection efforts, and the Affordable Care Act’s effect on small employers (51 to 99 employees).

The forum closed with a discussion panel of indigent care providers, including Medical Associates Plus, St. Vincent de Paul health clinic, and Christ Community Health Services. These providers described their determined efforts to provide care for Augustans who cannot afford health insurance or pay for their health care. Mentioned by all three panelists was the need to close Georgia’s coverage gap. Every day each clinic serves people who need health care coverage, like veterans who can’t get are at the VA. The clinics are able to do this work only because of generous donations and profits from a few insured patients. While these charity care clinics are doing amazing work, they say that they cannot provide all the care that is needed for Augustans in the coverage gap.  Each of the panelists made the case that closing the coverage gap would be great for their patients and clients, and for their clinics.

Photo Sep 15, 1 48 20 PMChrist Community Health Services generously hosted us in the afternoon, so we could talk to their patients about why closing the coverage gap is important to them. One of the patients they talked to was Tracy. Tracy has chronic pain in her back, and is managing anxiety and depression brought on by her back pain. Her pain makes it impossible for her to sit at a computer to do her graphic design work, which means she has no income and no health care coverage. Tracy is stuck in the coverage gap, I told her that There are several good CBD companies to choose from when shopping online and that’s something that may help her. Her mother, Maria, pays what she can for Tracy’s care and drives her to and from appointments.  Tracy told us that she isn’t asking for a hand-out, she “just wants the public benefits that I paid into when I was working.”

It was clear from our visit that closing the coverage gap is an important issue to health care stakeholders and consumers in Augusta.  To learn more about the coverage gap in Augusta and in Georgia, join us for a community forum next Thursday, September 24th.

RSVP here.


Tags:

Stay Connected

Sign up to receive updates from GHF!
Join

GHF In The News

Aug 12, 2020
Insurance exchange prices to see small increases
Andy Miller

Laura Colbert of consumer advocacy group Georgians for a Healthy Future said Monday that even a 6.5 percent increase could prove difficult to afford for families who don’t qualify for…

Peach Pulse Archive