Tag: health reform

Tobacco Tax Is a Win for Georgia

Guest Blog By Michelle Putnam, MPH

For those inclined to live under a rock, the state of Georgia is in a deep recession, with revenues steadily declining over the past year and showing no sign of recovery.  In Georgia, 20% of adults and 18% of high school students smoke, costing our $2 billion a year in smoking-related health problems.  Is there a magic pill that would solve both of these problems at once?  You bet there is.  I give you, the tobacco tax.

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Tobacco Tax Helps Budget, Children

This commentary originally appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

As the 2010 legislative session opened, Georgia faced a dilemma: With a sluggish economy and unemployment hovering over 10 percent, there is a spike in the need for safety net services at the very time that state revenues are sagging.


Severe budget deficits threaten essential services such as Medicaid and PeachCare for Kids, which serve as lifelines to low-income families who might otherwise be uninsured in this difficult economic climate.


One potential solution is an increase in the state’s tobacco tax, currently one of the lowest in the nation, which could have the dual effect of reducing smoking rates and generating revenue to preserve necessary health services.


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CLASS Act

By Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities

The national health reform legislation moving through Congress includes provisions that would impact people with disabilities. The CLASS Act, for example, is incorporated in the current legislation. What would the CLASS Act do?  The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act (CLASS Act) would offer a meaningful non-means-tested complement to the Medicaid program with a focus on helping individuals overcome barriers to independence that they may confront due to severe functional impairments.  It would create a new national insurance program to help adults who have or develop severe functional impairments to remain independent, employed, and stay a part of their community.  Financed through modest voluntary payroll deductions (with opt-out enrollment like Medicare Part B), this legislation would help remove barriers to choice and independence (e.g., housing modification, assistive technologies, personal assistance services, transportation) that can be overwhelmingly costly, by providing a cash benefit to those individuals who need support for basic functions.  The large risk pool to be created by this approach would make added coverage affordable.  It would give individuals added choice and access to supports without requiring them to become impoverished to qualify for Medicaid. You can learn more about the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities’ health care agenda here.


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Struggling Georgians Deserve Better Health Care Options

By Cindy Zeldin


This piece originally appeared in the Macon Telegraph.


In these difficult economic times, the loss of a job is frequently compounded by the loss of the health insurance that had been tied to it. With unemployment rates hovering near 10 percent, more and more Georgians are facing this dual predicament.



For many recently unemployed Georgians, a popular program that subsidizes the continuation of employer-sponsored coverage has served as a lifeline since it was enacted into law in early 2009.  Under the program, known as the COBRA subsidy, most workers laid off between September 1, 2008 and December 31, 2009 were made eligible for a 9-month subsidy to ease the financial load of paying full freight to stay on their old plan.



In normal times, people losing their jobs can remain on their previous employment-based plan for 18 months by paying the entire premium, including the portion their former employer had previously contributed. For someone who has just lost his or her primary source of income, however, paying the entire premium can be cost prohibitive. To address this challenge, the subsidy puts COBRA coverage in reach for many Georgians:  according to a study recently released by Families USA, monthly premiums for subsidized COBRA coverage average $369 in Georgia, while the average monthly premium without the subsidy is $1,053.

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Health Care Reform Will Help Georgia Residents Find Coverage

This post originally appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on December 8, 2009.


By Cindy Zeldin


Our nation is on the cusp of historic public policy change. In the next several weeks, the most sweeping health reform legislation in 40 years will likely become law. Despite the heated town halls of August and the steady stream of information coming from the legislative debates in Washington, many Georgians are still wondering: What does this mean for me?


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National Medicaid Expansion Is a Bargain for Georgia

By Tim Sweeney


Over at the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute, we’ve recently released a brief that shows why expanding Medicaid to cover hundreds of thousands of low-income, uninsured Georgians is a bargain for the state. (Read the brief here.)


Instead of focusing on the small portion of the expansions costs that will be borne by the state (about 10 percent for newly eligible people), Georgia leaders should focus on the substantial social and economic benefits that the expansion and additional federal money would bring to Georgia.


Low-income Georgians already have far less access to employer-sponsored health insurance than higher income Georgians, and are seeing their limited access decline even more. Georgia had the 10th highest uninsured rate in the nation, on average, from 2006-2008, and because Medicaid eligibility thresholds here are pretty low, the state would benefit greatly from the national expansion.


Tim Sweeney

Sr. Healthcare Analyst

Georgia Budget & Policy Institute


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Be on the Move…

Guest Blog By Joann Yoon

 

In reading through an issue of The Economist earlier this year, I came across an obituary for Sir John Mortimer, an English barrister and well-known writer.  I didn’t know who he was prior to reading the article, but was impressed to learn about his life and his efforts to make social change through the practice of law and through his writing.  One of the quotes attributed to him that stuck out in my mind was the sentiment that offense makes society move. I often think about this notion, and link it to thoughts particularly as the battle wages on regarding whether or not to implement health reform.

 

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Halloween Health Wonk Review

By Cindy Zeldin

Health Wonk Review is a biweekly roundup highlighting some of the most interesting health policy blog postings. Healthy Debate Georgia made its debut in the current issue (all decked out for Halloween). Give it a visit.


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Health Reform: Expanding Medicaid

Guest Blog By Tim Sweeney

Good day everyone! I’m Tim Sweeney, Sr. Healthcare Analyst with the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute, and I’m honored and excited to be a contributor to this new health blog being launched by Georgians for a Healthy Future. I’ve been working on healthcare policy issues here in Georgia for nearly five years now, and I’m happy we now have a new avenue for us to talk about healthcare issues in Georgia and to share ideas and perspectives

 

Without a doubt, healthcare issues are more in the forefront of the national and state debate now than in quite a long time. At the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute we strive to bring credible facts and figures to the debate, so that the decisions made are well-informed and the likely effects of the decisions are well-understood. Furthermore, we strive to examine the issues with a keen eye towards how policies and proposals will affect low- and moderate-income Georgians.

 

Right now, the loudest parts of the healthcare debate are centered on whether there will be a public option to compete with private insurance and what arbitrary price-tag the final legislation will have. Often less discussed are the aspects of the proposals that would provide significant funding to help millions of currently uninsured individuals and families finally afford coverage; in particular, provisions that expand the Medicaid program to cover individuals and families with incomes up to 133% of the federal poverty level (about $13,800 for an individual and about $24,300 for a family of 3).

 

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American Diabetes Association welcomes Georgians for a Healthy Future

Guest Blog By Randi Greene-Chapman

On behalf of the American Diabetes Association, I am delighted to welcome Georgians for a Healthy Future as a new partner in advocacy and policy development that will promote health and wellness throughout Georgia.  The American Diabetes Association has a long-standing commitment to health care advocacy and is the country’s leading organization promoting diabetes educational information, materials, advocacy and awareness.   I am looking forward to a positive and successful working relationship with Georgians for a Healthy Future. We are also bringing in a professional to help go over the new specifics of the Keto diet for beginners

 

Advocacy plays an integral role in the American Diabetes Association’s work to fulfill its mission and we maintain a robust legislative agenda on both the state and federal levels.   Our efforts in state government affairs have led to major improvements in health insurance coverage for people with diabetes, improved care for children with diabetes in schools, adoption of programs to fund diabetes research and policies to improve fitness and reduce obesity among our nation’s youth counting with information from sites as Fitness Exact.  We have successfully worked with state legislators in 46 states to pass laws that mandate insurance coverage for a variety of diabetes care needs.  In addition, we have helped ensure that schools across the county are medically safe for students with diabetes.

 

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