Blog (November 2015)
Georgians for a Healthy Future hit the road again recently, this time to Savannah! Along with the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute and the Chatham County Safety Net Planning Council, we hosted Coverage and Access to Care: A Local Focus on Savannah. The event provided the opportunity to have a roundtable discussion about the health and health care needs of people in Georgia’s coastal region. We were joined by representatives from local hospitals, insurers, non-profit organizations, enrollment assisters, and interested Savannah residents for the gathering.
Guided by the chart book, the group had a dynamic discussion about how we could make Georgia’s Medicaid program work better for those who are already enrolled, as well as the benefits of expanding it to cover Georgians in the coverage gap. It was clear the attendees were eager to talk about improving coverage and access to care by closing Georgia’s coverage gap.
Our conversation also touched on the open enrollment period and the needs of consumers enrolling through the health insurance Marketplace (aka healthcare.gov). GHF highlighted our new toolkit and Health Insurance User’s Manual as tools to help Savannah-area consumers get enrolled, stay enrolled, and effectively use their coverage.
This roundtable event gave us the opportunity to learn from the Savannah stakeholders, meet new partners, and identify areas where we can work together to improve Georgia’s health care system. We look forward to returning to Savannah soon to build on this visit.
It’s an exciting time in health advocacy. The nation’s uninsured rate has plummeted over the past two years as Americans who were left out of our health system for too long have finally been invited in. Here in Georgia, half a million people gained coverage through the health insurance marketplace last year and we are working hard to raise awareness during this current open enrollment period.
But the pathway to coverage remains blocked for our lowest-income citizens here in Georgia because our state policymakers have not yet taken action to expand Medicaid. Approximately 300,000 Georgians are stuck in a coverage gap: they don’t qualify for Medicaid today and can’t access tax credits to buy private health insurance because their income is too low. Many of these Georgians are working in jobs that don’t come with health insurance. They are restaurant workers, child care workers, and even some veterans. They are our friends and neighbors, and we all suffer when they are left out.
Georgians for a Healthy Future is committed to making sure the voices of these Georgians are heard as public policy decisions are made that impact their lives. In the coming year, we plan to redouble our efforts to close the coverage gap in Georgia. This means we’ll be criss-crossing the state to talk to people who fall into the gap and to connect with community leaders, launching a digital advocacy campaign to mobilize the voices in support of closing this gap, and continuing to make the case directly to policymakers.
We need your help to do this. We need your partnership, your stories, and your voice. And on November 12th, Georgia Gives Day, we hope you will help support our campaign to close the coverage gap by choosing to give to Georgians for a Healthy Future.
You can donate here.
Your partner in advocacy,
Georgians for a Healthy Future