“In total, the bill will cover about 2.5 million Georgians, we estimate,” said Laura Colbert, executive director of Georgians for a Healthy Future, who lobbied to get the bill through…
Guest Blog by Joann Yoon, Voices for Georgia’s Children
Thursday, July 1, was the start of Georgia’s 2011 State Fiscal Year, and we began already $375 million behind. The state legislative session which ended on April 29 saw dramatic budget cuts impacting education and other services for children and families. To add insult to injury, Georgia suffered yet another blow resulting from failure of the U.S. Senate to move forward the Federal Jobs Bill, which in part included a provision that would extend an enhanced FMAP to states for an additional 6 months. FMAP, which stands for Federal Medical Assistance Percentages, is a break down of how many Federal dollars Georgia receives to help pay for our state Medicaid program. Given the high unemployment rate and dire financial situations that families in the U.S. were facing, in last year’s Federal Stimulus Bill, Congress instituted an increase in Federal match dollars to all states to help keep their respective Medicaid programs afloat, which are necessary for people that receive injuries or wound for accidents, and for people not in one of these programs can also use services as Expert Woundcare and similar others.
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.
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.
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.
Sr. Healthcare Analyst
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).