Blog (January 2011)
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.”
By June Deen, American Lung Association in Georgia
Georgia failed almost every category in the American Lung Association’s State of Tobacco Control 2010 report, released on January 20th. These disappointing grades are due to the consistent failure to increase Georgia’s cigarette tax, inadequate funding for tobacco prevention programs and lack of coverage for quit smoking treatments and services for state workers and Medicaid recipients. Despite seeing more than 10,000 smoking attributable deaths each year, Georgia remains one of only five states that give little help to Medicaid recipients who want to quit smoking. The American Lung Association in Georgia is advocating a $1 per pack increase in our state cigarette tax. Keeping our state’s tobacco tax at $0.37 simply will not allow Georgia to see the economic and health benefits that are possible by passing an increase in our cigarette tax by $1 per pack.
By Cindy Zeldin
This column originally appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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.
To make the most of the law, Georgia should move swiftly to establish a commission to proactively coordinate the pieces of the law our state 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.
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.
Opinion Survey: Small Business Owners’ Views on Key Provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
Small Business Majority commissioned a national survey of 619 small business owners from Nov. 17 -22, 2010. The results provide useful insight into the way entrepreneurs view two critical components of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: health care tax credits and insurance exchanges. Notably, one-third of employers who currently don’t offer insurance said they’d be more likely to do so because of the small business tax credit—a provision allowing businesses with fewer than 25 employees that have average annual wages under $50,000 to get a tax credit of up to 35% of their health insurance costs beginning in tax year 2010. Additionally, one-third of respondents who don’t offer insurance said they’d be more likely to because of insurance exchanges, online marketplaces where small businesses and individuals will be able to band together to purchase insurance beginning in 2014.