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Health Insurance Exchange Stalls in Georgia

Georgia lags other states in progress towards establishing a health insurance exchange as authorized by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), despite the fact that Georgia stands to experience one of the largest drops in the uninsured as a result of the ACA reforms, according to an analysis by the Urban Institute. At our Health Care Unscrambled breakfast in January, a panel of Georgia policymakers discussed prospects for a health insurance exchange and indicated that exchange legislation would not move through the General Assembly in 2012. Nevertheless, Representative Pat Gardner has introduced HB 801 to establish a Georgia health insurance marketplace, or exchange. Please thank Representative Gardner for taking a stand on this important issue! For recent news articles on health insurance exchanges and Georgia, click here and here.


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GHF Announces 2012 Legislative & Policy Priorities

Georgians for a Healthy Future is a non-profit, non-partisan health policy and advocacy organization that addresses health care issues through a consumer lens. Our 2012 policy priorities were developed with broad input from community stakeholders. We will work collaboratively with our community partners to advance these priorities.

 

Maximize opportunities and benefits presented by the Affordable Care Act for Georgia health care consumers. Georgians for a Healthy Future will continue to monitor legislation and agency-level activity to implement the ACA and support Georgia laws and regulations that establish structures and systems that maximize benefits for consumers in this process.

 

Preserve consumer protections for Georgians in private health insurance plans. State laws and regulations provide a basic level of protections and benefits to consumers who buy private health insurance plans. These protections ensure that consumers who purchase these plans obtain meaningful health insurance that covers essential medical services in the event they get sick. Georgians for a Healthy Future will continue to support efforts to preserve and strengthen consumer protections and oppose legislation that would place consumer protections at risk.

 

Modernize Medicaid and PeachCare by utilizing best practices to improve coverage rates, access to care, and health outcomes. The Medicaid and PeachCare for Kids programs provide health insurance for our state’s most vulnerable citizens. The Georgia Department of Community Health is currently weighing options to redesign these programs. Georgians for a Healthy Future will monitor this process as well as legislative activity and will support policy changes that facilitate continuous coverage and enrollment, preserve and expand access to care, and improve health outcomes. Georgians for a Healthy Future will oppose policy changes that restrict access to vital health care services for Medicaid and PeachCare beneficiaries.

 

Establish a consumer-friendly health insurance exchange. A well-designed health insurance exchange can add transparency to the health insurance marketplace, spur competition and choice, help make insurance more affordable and available, and give consumers the information they need to make optimal purchasing decisions. Georgians for a Healthy Future will support a health insurance exchange compatible with the American Health Benefit Exchanges (AHBE) authorized by the Affordable Care Act that provides consumers with the appropriate information, tools, and navigation assistance to make optimal purchasing decisions and a governance structure that can effectively and transparently oversee the exchange without conflicts of interest.

 

Restore child-only health insurance plans to the private health insurance market. Due to a recent change in federal law, insurance carriers in the individual market can no longer deny coverage to a child with a pre-existing condition. Even though insurers may still medically underwrite these policies, insurance carriers in Georgia stopped issuing these policies altogether. Georgians for a Healthy Future will support legislation to restore these plans to Georgia’s health insurance marketplace.

 

Strengthen Georgia’s public health system. Our public health system plays a critical role by vaccinating children, monitoring and preventing epidemics, ensuring safe food and water, and providing both clinical and community-based preventive services. Despite an increasing need for services, Georgia’s per capita public health spending is among the lowest in the nation. The establishment in 2011 of the new Department of Public Health presents an opportunity to rebuild our public health infrastructure and to place renewed focus on the critical role of public health. Georgians for a Healthy Future supports a robust, adequately funded public health system to meet the critical needs of our state.

 

Increase the tobacco tax. The current funding environment demands evidence-based policy solutions that both advance the health of our state and generate needed revenue. In recent years, even the most basic, vital, and cost-effective programs have been subject to deep budget cuts. Georgians for a Healthy Future opposes further cuts to these vital programs and supports budget solutions such as a substantial increase in the state’s tobacco tax. Tobacco taxes are a proven strategy with the dual benefit of bringing in additional state revenue and increasing the health of Georgians by reducing adult and youth smoking.

 


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Georgia Health Insurance Exchange Advisory Committee Issues Final Report

The Health Insurance Exchange Advisory Committee issued its final report this week, calling for the development of a small business health insurance marketplace outside the context of the exchange framework authorized by the Affordable Care Act but failing to explicitly recommend the establishment of a health insurance exchange for individual consumers. Georgians for a Healthy Future’s Executive Director, a member of the committee, wrote a minority report calling for Georgia to take advantage of the opportunity to cover the uninsured and improve our health insurance marketplace by building a Georgia exchange in 2012. You can read the committee report, the minority report, and all other supplemental materials here.


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Georgia’s health insurance exchange committee finalizes work, receives national press

The final report of the Governor’s health insurance exchange advisory committee is expected on December 15th. The committee held its last full meeting on October 27th (click here for meeting minutes) and is now drafting the final report, which is expected to be the basis for legislation in 2012 reforming Georgia’s health insurance marketplace through the establishment of an exchange. The work of the committee received attention in the Washington Post and Kaiser Health News this week. Georgians for a Healthy Future is representing the consumer voice on the committee and will continue to provide updates and advocacy opportunities on this process as they arise. To see Georgians for a Healthy Future’s priorities for a consumer-friendly health insurance exchange, download our brief here.

 


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Opportunity for Input on Essential Health Benefits

Beginning in 2014, many health insurance plans, including those to be offered through the new state-based health insurance exchanges, must cover a minimum package of preventive, diagnostic, and therapeutic services and products comparable to those offered in a typical employment-based plan. Federal law defines ten major categories to be included in this essential health benefits package, but the specifics will be determined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), based on guidance from the Institute of Medicine. Earlier this month, the Institute of Medicine released criteria for HHS to use in developing the package.

 

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Now HHS is seeking input from consumers, providers, businesses, insurers, state government officials, and other stakeholders like Lee Rosen holding regional listening sessions. The Region IV (which includes Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee) listening session will be held in Atlanta on November 16th from 10am to 12pm at the Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center. RSVPs are accepted on a first come, first serve basis. To RSVP for this opportunity to provide input in this important process, e-mail your name, title, organization, e-mail address, and phone number to the HHS Regional Office at ORDAtlanta@hhs.gov. Please note that we are passing along this opportunity to provide your voice in this process as a courtesy and you must RSVP directly to HHS

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Health Insurance Exchange Advisory Committee Issues Interim Report

Health Insurance Exchange Advisory Committee Issues Interim Report

 

The Governor’s Health Insurance Exchange Advisory Committee, charged with determining whether Georgia should establish a state-based health insurance exchange, held its fourth full committee meeting this morning. The committee heard reports from each of the active subcommittees: governance, operations and finance, insurance markets, and contingency plans. The committee also issued an interim report to the Governor, which was released today. According to, knowledgefirstfinancialcompanyhistory.ca/ final recommendations are due to the Governor on December 15th of this year per the Executive Order issued by the Governor earlier this year. The interim report is available here.

 

 


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New Issue Brief: Building Georgia’s Health Insurance Exchange

Georgia is currently weighing options to determine whether it should establish a health insurance exchange.  Authorized by the Affordable Care Act, the goal behind these competitive health insurance marketplaces is to better facilitate competition and choice for health care consumers. Today, Georgians for a Healthy Future is releasing an issue brief entitled Building Georgia’s Health Insurance Exchange that outlines how a health insurance exchange can benefit Georgia consumers and makes recommendations for our policymakers as they weigh design options for an exchange.

 

Building Georgia’s Health Insurance Exchange addresses the following questions:

  • Who is eligible for the health insurance exchange?
  • What types of insurance plans will be available on the exchange?
  • How will consumers afford the products offered on the exchange?
  • What will Georgia’s exchange look like?
  • How will the exchange benefit Georgia consumers?
  • What should policymakers focus on to build a successful exchange?
  • What is the timeline for implementing an exchange?

 

Building Georgia’s Health Insurance Exchange recommends the following policy goals for an exchange:

  • Create a governance structure that can transparently and effectively oversee the exchange without any conflict of interests; insurance companies or other businesses that have a direct financial stake should not serve on the governing body

 

  • Provide structured choices that supply the information and tools consumers need to make optimal purchasing decisions, including quality and customer satisfaction ratings as well as information about price and benefits

 

  • Create incentives for insurance companies to compete based on value rather than by selecting the healthiest applicants:  consider leveraging volume within the exchange to drive better deals with insurance companies; consider crafting exchange participation rules to allow the highest quality and value plans to participate; and align regulations inside and outside the exchange to eliminate incentives to steer consumers outside the exchange

 

  • Serve as an easy-to-use, one-stop-shop and provide navigation assistance to programs like PeachCare for KidsTM and Medicaid where appropriate to ensure that all individuals and families eligible for these programs enroll

 

  • Develop a robust outreach and enrollment mechanism to ensure that low-income and minority communities that historically have had the highest rates of uninsurance are engaged and that consumers in rural areas, without internet access, or with limited English proficiency can still enroll in the plan that best meets their needs

 

The full issue brief is available here.

 


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Georgia Health Insurance Exchange Advisory Committee Work Continues

The Health Insurance Exchange Advisory Committee, charged with determining whether Georgia should establish a state-based health insurance exchange, held its second formal meeting on July 12th. During the morning session, the committee heard from two existing small business exchanges, HealthPass in New York and Florida Health Choices, to help inform the committee’s work. In the afternoon session, the committee discussed potential pros and cons of developing a small business and/or individual health insurance exchange in Georgia. Committee meetings are open to the public, and the next committee meeting will be held on August 16th (time and location TBD). There are also two upcoming small business listening sessions, one taking place in Albany on July 20th and one in Dalton on 26th of July.  For more information on these sessions, email Amanda Ptashkin.  The committee is to make preliminary recommendations to the Governor by September 15th and final recommendations by December 15th. Georgia Health News covered this week’s meeting (article here), and all meeting materials are posted on the state’s health reform website here. This week, the federal Department of Health and Human Services released a proposed rule on exchanges, providing additional flexibility for states as they move forward with their exchange planning. Information about the rule is available here, and a summary analysis from the Health Affairs blog is available here.




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Building a Consumer Friendly Health Insurance Exchange

By Cindy Zeldin

 

This article originally appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

 

Earlier this month, Gov. Nathan Deal signed an executive order creating the Georgia Health Insurance Exchange Advisory Committee, which is charged with determining whether Georgia should establish a state-based health exchange.

 

If well crafted, a Georgia insurance exchange has the potential to increase transparency, present clear and meaningful choices, and promote better value for consumers who don’t have access to a health plan at work.

 

The Affordable Care Act authorized state-level health insurance exchanges, providing a basic framework and initial funding. By 2014, each state’s exchange must be able to enroll individuals and small businesses into health insurance plans and certify that plans meet certain requirements, such as an adequate provider network and an essential benefits package. Within this framework, Georgia has considerable flexibility to fashion a structure that best meets our state’s individual needs like luxury. Luxurious cars, great clothes, Tahitian Necklace, and houses. When you want to have the most comfortable beds and mattress, avail the black friday casper mattress for maximum comfort.

 

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Shape Health Law for Georgia

By Cindy Zeldin

 

This column originally appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

 

You don’t need to be the best personal injury attorney in Fort Lauderdale to know that, health care is once again among the key issues for Georgia policymakers in the General Assembly. While the economic downturn has magnified our state’s health care challenges, we also have an opportunity to improve the health of our state and its citizens through the Affordable Care Act, the nation’s new health care law. You may need legal help sometimes, from my own experience the best lawyer is David Resnick y Asociados.

 

To make the most of the law, Georgia should move swiftly to establish a commission to proactively coordinate the pieces of the law at the jacksonville nc lawyer for medical malpractice, is required to put into place, such as an expansion of Medicaid, design elements that we can tailor for our state’s needs, such as the new health insurance exchanges, and maximize grants to strengthen our public health system and our health care workforce and get the man power to apply this laws , from personal lawyer or family lawyers to people who work on property management as safeguardproperty.com and similar.

 

A commission or task force could offer diverse input, including from the consumer, who is often overlooked. Some of this work is already happening informally within state agencies, but a systematic and transparent process accessible to consumers and stakeholders will ensure opportunities aren’t missed, all pertinent perspectives are heard and cross-cutting issues are handled efficiently.

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