Peach Pulse, November 2015

POLICY UPDATES

Network Adequacy – We Have a Model Act!

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners approved an updated network adequacy model act at its Fall meeting in November. The model act is a framework that states can adopt to help ensure that consumers have meaningful and timely access to the health services in their benefit package. With more insurance companies offering narrow network plans, these basic standards are an important consumer protection, and GHF encourages state policymakers to consider tailoring and adopting the model act in Georgia. We’ll be announcing our legislative priorities for 2016 soon, and this issue will be on the list!

Study Committees Conclude Their Work

Meredith and Claire 11.15Several health-related study committees met during the summer and fall months, and most of them are wrapping up their work. The Consumer and Provider Protection Act Study Committee held its final open meeting in November with a focus on network adequacy and provider directories. Claire McAndrew from Families USA, a national consumer health advocacy organization, and Georgians for a Healthy Future’s Health Policy Analyst Meredith Gonsahn delivered testimony on the importance of setting network adequacy standards and ensuring provider directory accuracy and usability. Look out for a final report from the committee in December!

Read Meredith’s Testimony

Read Claire’s Testimony

Concerns Grow about Proposed Mergers

Earlier this year, two separate proposed health insurance mergers were announced. A November New York Times article laid out some of the concerns that consumer advocates have about the proposed mergers and featured comments from Cindy Zeldin, Georgians for a Healthy Future’s Executive Director. Our Health Policy Analyst Meredith Gonsahn is monitoring this important issue – be on the lookout for a policy brief in the new year that provides more detailed insights about the potential effects of these mergers. You can also learn more by visiting the Coalition to Protect Patient Choice.


UPCOMING EVENTS

Health Care Unscrambled 2016

STDPlease save the date for the morning of January 14th for our annual Health Care Unscrambled policy breakfast. The breakfast will feature a bipartisan panel of legislators who will preview the health care issues they plan to focus on during the legislative session, a keynote panel discussion about emerging health policy issues, and opportunities to network with fellow health advocates. Registration is now open!

RSVP!

Sponsorship Opportunities

 

 

 


GHF IN THE COMMUNITY

Coverage and Access to Care: Local Focus on Savannah

Photo Nov 06, 10 44 15 AMGeorgians for a Healthy Future hit the road again recently, this time to Savannah! We collaborated with the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute and the Chatham County Safety Net Planning Council to pull together a local roundtable discussion with individuals and organizations serving the local community. We learned so much about the coverage and access challenges facing individuals and families in Savannah.

Read Laura’s Blog

 

 

GHF in North Fulton

Laura North Fulton 11.15North Fulton Community Charities, a non-profit human service agency that assists families in need in North Fulton County, invited Georgians for a Healthy Future to present our Medicaid chart book to its community leaders. Board members, city and county council people, and state legislators were in attendance, along with interested community members. We had a constructive conversation with participants about how Georgia can close the coverage gap. If your organization, church, or community group would like us to present at your next meeting (either about closing the coverage gap or about helping people enroll in health insurance), contact Laura.

 

 

 


 

PUBLICATIONS AVAILABLE IN SPANISH

Get Insured. Stay Insured.

Spanish toolkitThis toolkit is designed to walk people through each step of the enrollment process, from how to select the right plan for them, to how to find a doctor, and even things to keep in mind when filing taxes if they receive a subsidy. Hard copies of the Spanish toolkit are available, please email Whitney for more information.

Download Spanish Toolkit.

 

 

 

My Health Insurance User’s Manual

Spanish workbookThis workbook is a take-home, interactive resource for the newly enrolled. People can fill in the workbook with their own information so they have all of their important health coverage information in one place. If your organization is interested in obtaining hard copies of the workbook in Spanish, please contact Whitney.

Download Spanish Workbook.

 

 

 

Thank You!

GGD2015_logo_home133wIn addition to November being a busy month full of community engagement, health insurance enrollment, and public policy advances, it was also a month for gratitude and reflection. This Thanksgiving, the 300,000 Georgians who fall into the coverage gap were in our thoughts. In the coming year, we plan to redouble our efforts to close the coverage gap in Georgia. Your contributions on Georgia Gives Day will support our advocacy campaign in 2016 to close this gap. The Georgians for a Healthy Future team thanks you for your support. And if you missed Georgia Gives Day, don’t worry – you can still give here.

 

 

 

 


GHF in the News

Obamacare insurance premiums on the rise in Georgia

AJC | November 29, 2015

Closer Look: Health Care; Peachtree-Pine Shelter; And More

WABE | November 24, 2015

States Urged to Review Health Insurance Mergers

New York Times | November 20, 2015

 

MORE >

Peach Pulse, October 2015


NEW PUBLICATIONS

Get Insured. Stay Insured.

ghf_toolkit_160x600Our new toolkit is designed to walk people through each step of the enrollment process, from how to select the right plan for them, to how to find a doctor, and even things to keep in mind when filing taxes if they receive a subsidy. Each piece of the toolkit can be used individually based on where the person is in the enrollment process or it can be used as one comprehensive piece. If you have any questions about the toolkit or would like to receive hard copies (for pick up only in most cases) please contact Whitney Griggs.

Download Toolkit.

My Health Insurance User’s Manual

Cover_ImageThis workbook is a take-home, interactive resource for the newly enrolled. It covers topics that enrollment assisters may not have time to cover during the enrollment appointment, such as how to find a primary care provider, how to make your first appointment, and even how to make a budget. People can fill in the workbook with their own information so they have all of their important health coverage information in one place.

Download Workbook.


 

Study Committees Continue Their Work

Cindy TiftonGeorgians for a Healthy Future’s Executive Director Cindy Zeldin traveled to Tifton in October to participate in the second meeting of the Consumer and Provider Protection Act Study Committee. The meeting was held at the Tift Regional Health System and featured testimony from a range of health care stakeholders. The third meeting of the committee was held on Monday, November 9th at 9am at the State Capitol in Atlanta and focused on network adequacy, an important issue for health care consumers. Click here to read Cindy’s blog on the study committee’s work.


 

 

PAST EVENTS

GEAR Webinar

GHF_5_pcpinoutetworkThis webinar introduced the Georgia Enrollment Assistance Resource (GEAR) Network. We created GEAR to be a resource for navigators, certified application counselors, community-based nonprofits, and other stakeholders who are interested in outreach and enrollment in Georgia. Through GEAR, you can access an array of Georgia-specific consumer-facing materials in English and Spanish. Participation in GEAR is free and is intended to be a community resource.

Sign up for the GEAR Newsletter.

Watch the Webinar.

 

Getting and Keeping Georgia Covered.

GHF and Enroll America teamed up to host an all day conference in advance of the start of Open Enrollment. If you missed it, check out this resources page for tons of valuable resources!

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Policy Luncheon on Preventing Youth Substance Use

This forum featured a panel of experts who shared their academic, research, and personal experiences, demonstrating not only the need for, but the effectiveness of SBIRT in preventing substance use disorders. Check out the videos below hear more about by SBIRT matters.

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Read the policy report.

 


UGA’s State of Public Health Conference: Featuring GHF

SOPH 9.15Last week, GHF was on the road again traveling to Athens for UGA’s annual State of Public Health conference. The SOPH conference is a chance for public health researchers, practitioners, and students to share and learn about the newest public health initiatives and research happening across Georgia. We were excited to be featured as a presenter among other experts, advocates, and leaders in Georgia’s public health domain. In a workshop dedicated to the Affordable Care Act, GHF teamed up with Georgia Watch to talk about Marketplace enrollment efforts in Georgia.  The presentation was based on GHF’s “Getting Georgia Covered” report, which explored the successes and barriers to outreach and enrollment efforts in Open Enrollment 2. We also previewed the upcoming open enrollment period, which starts on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015, and advocated for closing Georgia’s coverage gap. The other presenters in the workshop, including another presentation from our partner Georgia Watch, comprehensively covered the new ACA requirement for hospitals to complete a community health needs assessment (CHNA) of their service area every 2-3 years and how that is being implemented in Georgia. The workshop generated some excellent questions and constructive conversation about these two very different aspects of the ACA.


IN THE NEWS

Georgians face key health insurance decisions during open enrollment

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

Georgia Health News

 

WRBL

 

Soundbite Services

 

See more.


GHF Welcomes Yaminah, new Grassroots Advocacy Fellow!

YaminahYaminah Romulus joins the GHF team as the Grassroots Advocacy Fellow. She will work to develop GHF’s outreach strategy and collaborate the staff on policy analysis work. Yaminah is currently pursuing a Master’s of Public Health with a concentration in Health Policy and Management at Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. Some of her interests include access to care for vulnerable populations, barriers to quality care, and the improvement of health care delivery systems.

MORE >

Peach Pulse, September 2015


NEW PUBLICATIONS

A Chart Book for Understanding Medicaid in Georgia and the Opportunity to Improve It

Georgians for a Healthy Future and the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute are proud to release our joint publication: Understanding Medicaid in Georgia and the Opportunity to Improve It. Inside you will find infographics, new data, and compelling charts that simplify the complex issue of Medicaid in Georgia.

13_Adult Workers 19_Close Gap Good Economy
 12_Percent Uninsured GA Map  04_MedicaidPeachCare

Part one explains who gets Medicaid in Georgia, how Medicaid protects Georgians during economic downturns, how Medicaid controls costs in the state, and more.

Part two outlines Georgia’s opportunity to close the coverage gap.  Here you’ll find out what Georgia’s health insurance coverage gap is, how we can use Medicaid to close it, and who stands to benefit detailed by job sector, demographics, and veteran status.

Part three details economic and social benefits of closing the coverage gap. Why is closing the coverage gap is a good deal for Georgia and the state’s economy? What are the savings other states realize by closing the gap? How does coverage affect a person’s financial and physical health?

A limited number of hard copies of this new publication are available. Please let us know if you or your organization would like one. We are also available to provide presentations to your members about Medicaid in Georgia and the opportunity to improve it by closing the coverage gap. Please contact Laura Colbert if you’re interested in a community presentation.

Download the chartbook!

Many Working Parents and Families in Georgia Would Benefit from Extending Medicaid Coverage

Rate_of_Uninsurance_in_GA_CCFWe  know that closing Georgia’s coverage gap would help adults who are uninsured. But how does it affect families and children in our state? GHF and Georgetown University Health Policy Institute’s Center for Children and Families have teamed up to bring you new research to answer that question. Key findings include:

  • Nearly three-in-ten Georgians potentially eligible for coverage should Georgia choose to close the coverage gap are parents with dependent children residing in their home.
  • Of those parents that could benefit from expanded Medicaid eligibility, nearly two-thirds (57 percent) are employed. Nearly half of all uninsured parents (46 percent) work in restaurants, retail, or professional service occupations.

Children enrolled in Medicaid are more likely to receive well-child care and are significantly less likely to have unmet or delayed needs for medical care, dental care, and prescription drug use due to cost.


 

UPCOMING EVENTS

GEAR up for Open Enrollment

Webinar
October 19
2:00 – 3:00 PM

Please join us for a webinar to introduce the new Georgia Enrollment Assistance Resource Network-GEAR! GEAR is the new central hub of resources for Georgia’s enrollment assisters and stakeholders who work to educate people on their health and health coverage options. GEAR is full of handouts, interactive consumer tools, important updates, and other materials that will help enrollment assisters and community organizations better educate Georgians on health insurance enrollment, health insurance literacy, and more.

Toolkit_Logo toolkit5

Want to learn more about GEAR and how you and/or your organization can benefit?  Join us on October 19th for a webinar where we will demonstrate how to access GEAR and review some of the materials that can be found there. We will also get your feedback about other resources you would like to see included on GEAR in the future. GEAR is built to help more Georgians connect to health coverage and we want it to work for you!

Sign up for the webinar!

 

Policy Luncheon on Preventing Youth Substance Use

October 22, 11:30 AM – 1:45 PM
Loudermilk Center, Ann Cramer Room

SBIRT bookmarkPlease join us for a policy forum to take a deep dive into promising, cost-effective best practices to reduce youth substance abuse in Georgia. This lunchtime event will be held just prior to the second meeting of the Senate Study Committee on Preventing Youth Substance Use Disorders and will feature opening remarks by Senator Renee Unterman, the chair of the study committee and the Senate Health and Human Services committee. The forum will also include a panel discussion featuring:

Dr. Paul Seale, Navicent Health

Dr. Gabe Kuperminc, Georgia State University

Leigh Colburn, Director, Graduate Marietta Student Success Center

Bertrand Brown, Georgia Council on Substance Abuse

After the panelists’ presentations there will be time for question and answer. This is a free event, but we ask that you RSVP so that we may order enough food.

RSVP Now!


 

PAST EVENTS

Local Spotlight on Augusta

In Augusta last week, GHF met with local providers, advocates, and consumers to talk about Augusta’s coverage gap. More than a presentation, the event was a constructive conversation about finding a solution and making Augusta healthier. It was clear to us that people in Augusta are dedicated to helping their neighbors and closing the coverage gap.

 Augusta5  Photo Sep 24, 9 16 04 AM

The event was previewed and then written up in the Augusta Chronicle.

Event Write Up

“The state of Georgia will eventually expand its Medicaid program “because the numbers are so compelling,” a health care economist for Georgia State University said Thursday at a policy forum in Augusta.”

Event Preview

“Medicaid already covers 1.9 million people in Georgia, about 64 percent of whom are children, despite “very restrictive” limits on who can qualify, particularly for adults, according to a report being released today by Zeldin’s group and the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute.”

 

GHF’s First Annual Consumer Health Impact Awards

What a night! GHF honored Georgia’s most inspiring health advocates, community partners, and policymakers at our first annual Consumer Health Impact Awards dinner in September. If you missed the event and want to see what all the fuss was about, check our our Storify or the photos on Facebook.

Thank you to our sponsors!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Legislative Study Committee Insights

Cindy Study Committee 9.15Study committees are the framework for the legislative session. It’s where legislators, experts, and advocates roll up their sleeves and study the issues facing Georgians. Below you’ll find two windows into the study committee process. The first is a deep dive into the Senate Study Committee on the Consumer and Provider Protection Act (SR 561) by GHF Executive Director Cindy Zeldin who serves on the committee and is very involved in addressing network adequacy.  The second is a breakdown by GHF Policy Analyst Meredith Gonsahn on the health-related committees meeting over the next several weeks.

Study Committee on the Consumer Provider and Protection Act

Read more about the study committees


 

IN THE NEWS

Expanding Medicaid coverage in Georgia has benefits, experts say

Augusta Chronicle | September 24, 2015

 

Georgia, Augusta are missing out on Medicaid, group says 

Augusta Chronicle | September 23, 2015

 

Health insurance rates headed up in 2016

Georgia Health News | September 14, 2015

– See more at: http://backup.jasonaxelson.com/september-peach-pulse#sthash.2QoeAfib.dpuf

MORE >

Peach Pulse, August 2015


Atlanta Journal-Constitution Op-ed on GA Uninsured Rate

DSC_0912 (2)GHF’s ED Cindy Zeldin took to the pages of theAtlanta Journal-Constitution last month to make the case for coverage:
“The clearest evidence we have shows us the decision by the majority of states (30 and counting) to expand Medicaid is foundational in transforming the health system. We cannot make progress as a state if 15 percent of our population is uninsured. Too many Georgians fall into a coverage gap our leaders can fix. Medicaid expansion should be on the table, not as a perfect solution, but as a necessary first step.”

 

IN THE NEWS

Medicaid experiment should foster dialogue

Atlanta Journal-Constitution | August 28, 2015

 

Narrow networks are the exchange norm here

Georgia Health News | August 25, 2015

 

State outlines argument against Medicaid “waiver”

Georgia Health News | August 13, 2015

 

Former state insurance chief wary of big mergers

Georgia Health News | August 2, 2015


 

We’re updating our look!

As we grow, GHF is looking to the future. We’ve updated our logo and this fall we will be rolling out a new website! Stay tuned for more details.

Logo PNG

 

MORE >

Peach Pulse, July 2015


Network Adequacy Takes the Stage

During the 2015 Legislative Session, the State Senate established the Consumer and Provider Protection Act Study Committee. This committee will review and make recommendations around several health insurance practices, including network adequacy. GHF has identified network adequacy, or the sufficiency of the health care providers patients can access when they enroll in a health insurance plan, as an important emerging consumer health issue. Our Executive Director, Cindy Zeldin, is a member of the study committee and looks forward to bringing the consumer perspective to the committee’s work. Cindy also recently appeared on WABE and Top Docs Radio to talk about network adequacy and participated in a panel discussion along with several state legislators at the Medical Association of Georgia’s Summer Legislative Education Seminar to discuss this important issue. Stay tuned for study committee agendas, updates, and opportunities to weigh in!

Study Committee Schedule
September 14, 9:00 – 12:00
State Capitol

October 26, 2:00 – 5:00
Tift Regional Healthy System, Tifton

November 9, 9:00 – 12:00
State Capitol

 


Don’t Miss Out: GHF’s Consumer Health Impact Awards

CHIA TwitterYou’re invited to Georgians for a Healthy Future’s First Annual Consumer Health Impact Awards! Please join us for a silent auction, dinner, and awards presentation on the evening on September 9th at Park Tavern.  We look forward to gathering with friends old and new as we celebrate the work being done by those dedicated to ensuring all Georgians have access to quality, affordable health care.

 


GHF in the News

Gainesville Times | July 30, 2015
WABE | July 27, 2015

Georgia Health News | July 24, 2015
July 15, 2015

Medicaid Turned 50!

Over the past 50 years, Medicaid has ensured that our family members, friends, and neighbors have the quality health care they need. Be it our seniors accessing long term care services, kids seeing a doctor, or people with disabilities living independently, millions of people are better off because of this critical program.

Medicaid has also shown itself to be an effective and cost-efficient program. Administrative costs are substantially lower than private insurance and because people using Medicaid have access to preventive services, small issues can be addressed before they end up as big, costly illnesses.

catalyst1finalChildren in particular benefit from Medicaid. Studies show that kids with coverage show up at school ready to learn, are more likely to graduate from college, and end up with more earning potential as adults. In fact, more than 1 million Georgia children (about 35% of kids in our state) currently get their health care coverage through Medicaid.

As we reflect on what Medicaid has meant for children and families here in Georgia, it has been nothing short of transformative. And while about 1.9 million Georgians overall benefit from the essential health care access that Medicaid provides, approximately 300,000 Georgians are still stuck in a coverage gap: they don’t qualify for Medicaid under its existing stringent standards, aren’t offered coverage at work, and earn too little to qualify for tax credits through the Health Insurance Marketplace. The majority of states have accepted federal funding to close this gap, but Georgia hasn’t yet taken that step. Closing this gap and extending Medicaid coverage to all low-income Georgians would be a powerful tool for improving the health of individuals and families throughout our state. At Georgians for a Healthy Future we are proud to advocate for the Medicaid program that has been proven to improve health and saves lives. For the millions of Americans, and many Georgians, whose quality of life has been improved because of Medicaid, we’re so happy to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the life-changing program.

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More about Medicaid in Georgia!


 

Have you gotten married recently?

ghf_covered_medskyMajor life events, such as getting married, changing jobs, or having a baby, qualify for you a special 60 day enrollment period.  So after the honeymoon is over, it’s time to #GetCovered!

If you need assistance, our health care Navigator, Pranay Rana, is here to help!

Once you have health insurance, Whitney Griggs, our Consumer Education Specialist, can help answer the questions you have about finding a provider, accessing preventive services, filing a complaint or appeal, or any other question you may have!



 

We’re here to help!

IMG_2520Georgians for a Healthy Future staff is available to come to your coalition or organization meeting to cover any of these topics!

Laura Colbert, Community Outreach Manager.Laura can present on topics like closing Georgia’s coverage gap, how you and your organization can get involved in health advocacy, the effects of health policies on the health of Georgians, and more.
Pranay Rana, Health Insurance Navigator.  Pranay can give presentations on the health insurance marketplace and what you need to know before enrolling in health insurance.  Pranay is also available for individual enrollments.

Whitney Griggs, Consumer Education Specialist.

Whitney can present on health insurance literacy (a breakdown of important health insurance terms and concepts) and how to get the most out of your health insurance. This is especially helpful for groups and communities that have many newly insured members.

Set up a presentation!


 

ICYMI: Social Media Trends

To celebrate Medicaid’s 50th Anniversary, advocates and consumers across the country participated throughout the web with#KeepingUsHealthy and #MedicaidAt50

Check out the Twitter Storm on Storify!
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MORE >

Peace Pulse, June 2015


King v. Burwell Recap

FB SCOTUS Cover Image

 

 

 

Last month, the Supreme Court upheld subsidies for health insurance bought through the federal marketplace, leaving more than 400,000 Georgians secure in their coverage.

“We celebrate an important victory for health care consumers, and we are relieved that hundreds of thousands of Georgians can keep their coverage,” said Cindy Zeldin, Georgians for a Healthy Future’s Executive Director. “But there is still work to do. Georgia has the second highest rate of uninsured in the country, and three-hundred thousand Georgians fall into a coverage gap that was created by Georgia’s decision not to expand Medicaid.”

Now that the outcome of King v. Burwell is clear, we must not forget these workers, parents, and veterans in our state who still lack access to quality, affordable health insurance. It’s time to close the coverage gap.


Need health enrolling or using your insurance?

Jazzie-Jones-Smith-&-Sonny-Jones-Smith

Have you had a major life event recently, such as getting married? You may qualify for a special enrollment period. Pranay Rana, GHF’s health care navigator, is here to help you get covered!   Email Pranay for an appointment or check out his schedule below.

Once you have health insurance, Whitney Griggs, our Consumer Education Specialist, can help answer any questions you may have about finding a provider, accessing preventive services, or filing a complaint or appeal.

Pranay’s Schedule:
 

Switzer Central Library

266 Roswell St, Marietta, GA 30060

Every Thursday 11 AM – 4:00 PM


Moving Forward

 

GHF surveyed and interviewed enrollment assisters across the state to understand not only the “what,” but also the “why” behind the second open enrollment period.  The results of that research have led us to several policy recommendations to maximize health insurance enrollment and retention and to ensure that coverage translates to meaningful access to timely and appropriate medical services for Georgia health care consumers.

  1. Close the coverage gap in Georgia. Approximately 300,000 Georgians fall into the coverage gap, meaning they do not qualify for Medicaid under existing income eligibility guidelines in Georgia but their income is still too low to qualify for financial assistance (tax credits) to purchase health insurance on the Marketplace. Eligibility for tax credits begins at 100 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, or $11,770 for an individual or $20,090 for a family of three in 2015, while Medicaid eligibility for most adults in Georgia cuts off at income much lower. Thirty states including DC have closed their coverage gaps thus far with promising results. We encourage Georgia policymakers to take this important step as well to ensure all Georgians have a pathway to coverage.
  2. Set and enforce network adequacy and transparency standards. Many of the plans sold through the Health Insurance Marketplace are Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plans that feature narrow provider networks. While these narrow networks can help keep premiums down, a trade-off many consumers may be willing to make, consumers do not currently have sufficient information to make this choice. There is no information available to consumers at the point of sale about whether a provider network is ultra narrow, narrow, or broad, and provider directories are routinely inaccurate. More transparency and oversight are needed to ensure that consumers have accurate and useful information to make these choices. It is also important that all provider networks allow for meaningful access to all covered benefits. To ensure this, we support putting in place and enforcing network adequacy standards.
  3. Encourage public-private partnerships and remove unnecessary restrictions on consumer education and assistance. Many of the enrollment assisters we surveyed indicated that reducing barriers to partnering with state government organizations such as public colleges, universities, and health departments would lead to stronger and more effective partnerships. Specifically, many respondents indicated that improved coordination between enrollment assisters, the Marketplace, and the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH) to better facilitate PeachCare for Kids and Medicaid enrollment would be helpful. The “Health Care Freedom Act,” passed in 2014 as part of HB 943, prohibits state and local governmental entities from operating a health insurance navigator program and places other limitations on governmental entities. This provision has been counterproductive, creating confusion around what educational and consumer assistance activities local entities can engage in as they work to serve their community members. We recommend lifting these restrictions.

GHF UPCOMING EVENTS

 

Save the Date_cropped

You’re invited to Georgians for a Healthy Future’s First Annual Consumer Health Impact Awards!

Please join us for a silent auction, dinner, and awards presentation on the evening on September 9th at Park Tavern.  We look forward to gathering with friends old and new as we celebrate the work being done by those dedicated to ensuring all Georgians have access to quality, affordable health care.  Tickets can be purchased below.

Do you know someone who should be recoginized for one of the below awards?  Nominate them here! Nominations will be accepted through July 31st.

You can view sponsorship opportunities here, or if you have an item you’d like to donate for the silent auction, please email Anna.

Linda Smith Lowe Health Advocacy Award

The Linda Smith Lowe Health Advocacy Award is given each year to an advocate whos work advances access to quality, affordable health care in Georgia. Nominees can be either professional advocates or volunteer advocates and must place a focus on vulnerable populations in their work and must work to achieve policy change. This award is named in honor of Linda Smith Lowe. Linda has dedicated her career to serving as an advocate on behalf of underserved Georgians who need a voice on health and human services issues.

Community Impact Award

The Community Impact Award is given each year to an individual or organization who has made an exceptional contribution to the health of their community in the past year. The impact of this contribution can be either at the individual, local, or state level. Nominees must work with individuals or local organizations to drive advancements in the health of the population served. Nominees may be health care providers, enrollment assisters, health educators, or others.

Powerhouse Policymaker Awards

The Powerhouse Policymaker Awards are given each year to local or state policymakers in Georgia who have exhibited excellence and courage in championing health issues in the public policy arena. Award recipients will have a particular focus on consumers or vulnerable populations and will have worked to advance our vision of a day in which all Georgians have access to the quality, affordable health care they need to lead healthy lives and contribute to the health of their communities.


GHF IN THE NEWS

Cindy King V BurwellAll eyes were on health insurance last month and we were excited to celebrate the victory with the press and with Georgia!

GHF Updates

Meredith HeadshotGHF welcomes a new staff member! Meredith Gonsahn is Georgians for a Healthy Future’s Health Policy Analyst. She joined Georgians for a Healthy Future in July 2015.  In this role she identifies key issues in health policy and how they impact Georgia health care consumers.  Meredith also monitors major trends in public and private health insurance, health system reform and other key policy areas to keep the organization abreast of emerging issues. Meredith comes to Georgians for a Healthy Future from the Atlanta VA Medical Center where she served as a Study Coordinator for a wound care clinical trial. Prior to this position, Meredith was a Research Associate for the Center for Health Policy and Health Services Research at Henry Ford Health System. In this role she identified and analyzed key health system reform policies at the Federal, state and local levels to shape the policy agenda for the System. She also served as a liaison to coordinate and submit Affordable Care Act demonstration project applications for System business units.  Meredith has a Master’s of Public Health with a concentration in Health Policy and Management from Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. She also has a Bachelor of Arts in History from Duke University.

GHF is also pleased to announce our Executive Director Cindy Zeldin’s appointment to the Senate study committee for SR 561, the Consumer and Provider Protection Act. Full information about study committee appointments can be found here.


ICYMI: Social Media

#ACAHereToStay and #ACAIsWorking started trending in response the the Supreme Court decision

Our favorite tweet last month:

Our favorite infographic last month:

SCOTUS

 

MORE >

Peach Pulse, May 2015


Open Enrollment 2 Analysis

May was all about analyzing the second open enrollment period.  What went well, what can be improved on and how Georgia did.  GHF staff interviewed health care enrollment assisters across the state and combined that with a detailed analysis of the numbers to put together Getting Georgia Covered: Lessons Learned, Best Practices, and Policy Recommendations from the Second Open Enrollment Period.  

The report covers how new health insurance opportunities created through the Affordable Care Act (ACA ) have led to historic reductions in the nation’s uninsured rate. Here in Georgia, more than half a million consumers signed up for health insurance during the open enrollment period that ended this past February, known as OE 2.

These strong enrollment numbers mean that more Georgia consumers can access the health care services they need and enjoy enhanced financial security for themselves and their families. The reduction in our state’s uninsured rate, although smaller than that of the nation as a whole, also has positive implications for the vitality of local health care systems and communities throughout Georgia.

Too many Georgians, however, remain uninsured, either because

  • they are unaware that there are coverage options that can meet their needs and budget
  • face cultural, linguistic, financial, or other barriers to coverage; or
  • fall into the “coverage gap” that was created when Georgia declined to expand Medicaid as authorized under the ACA

The goals of this report are

  • to explain the role of in-person assistance on enrollment outcomes and consumers’ experiences
  • to explore best practices that helped achieve robust enrollment in Georgia
  • to identify any common challenges or barriers to enrollment that Georgia consumers faced during OE2
  • to highlight promising strategies and approaches to reach the remaining uninsured who qualify for affordable health insurance
  • to put forth policy recommendations that can help facilitate a positive experience for health care consumers, both for those who are newly enrolled and for those who remain uninsured.
Georgia OE2 by the Numbers GHF_enrollment_sticker

 


Getting Georgia Covered Event

On May 13, GHF hosted a lunch panel discussion on best practices, lessons learned, and policy recommendations from the second open enrollment period.  During the event, GHF released it’s new report on the topic.  You can download it here.

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To see additional pictures from the even, please visit our facebook page!

Additional Resources from the event:

Whitney Girggs’s Presentation – GHF

Dante McKay’s Presentation – Enroll America

Lisa Stein’s Presentation – Seedco

Sarah Sessoms’s Presentation – InsureGA

 

Panelists

Enroll America: Danté McKay, Georgia State Director

Georgians for a Healthy Future: Whitney Griggs, Consumer Education Specialist

US Department of Health & Human Services: Dr. Pamela Roshell, Region 4 Director

InsureGA: Sarah Sessoms, Executive Director

SEEDCO:  Lisa Stein, Vice President Work and Family Supports


GHF in the News!

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From the end of open enrollment to the looming King v Burwell decision to the ongoing need to close Georgia’s coverage gap, health policy continues to dominate the headlines, and GHF is at the forefront of the conversation! Check out the news coverage below to learn more about what’s happening in Georgia and how it impacts health care consumers in our state.

 

 

 


Open Enrollment Success, Lessons Learned, and Policy Recommendations

Whitney Griggs, a consumer education specialist with Georgians for a Healthy Future, speaks on A Closer Look with Rose Scott and Denis O’Hayer about the recently approved FLEX bus serving Cobb communities. (Photo/Brenna Beech)

Whitney Griggs, a consumer education specialist with Georgians for a Healthy Future, speaks on A Closer Look with Rose Scott and Denis O’Hayer about the recently approved FLEX bus serving Cobb communities. (Photo/Brenna Beech)

Click the articles below to learn more about what worked well for consumers, what challenges and barriers they still face, and what changes can be made at both the community and policy levels to connect Georgians to health coverage and make sure that coverage translates to meaningful access to care.


 

Op-ed in the AJC

CindyZeldin_Headshot - CopyA road to health coverage for Georgians

“More than a half-million Georgians signed up for health coverage during the Affordable Care Act open enrollment period that ended in February. Many were previously uninsured. These robust enrollment figures show Georgia consumers strongly value health insurance and the access to care and financial security it can bring. An unmet demand is finally being met.

To gain a better understanding of this enrollment success story and what’s next for Georgia’s newly covered consumers, Georgians for a Healthy Future reached out to the enrollment assistance community – health insurance navigators and certified application counselors – and reviewed available data on plan offerings, premiums and enrollment. Three key themes emerged.”

Read the complete article


King v. Burwell

suprme court“We can’t just close the door on hundreds of thousands of Georgians who finally had it opened for them.” Sometime in the next few weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court will hand down its decision in King v. Burwell, the high profile case that could place health coverage at risk for an estimated 430,000 Georgia consumers. Georgians for a Healthy Future has been monitoring the case closely and talked to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the need for Georgia policymakers to step in if the court rules for the plaintiff. This story was featured on today’s front page.

430,000 Georgians could lose Obamacare insurance – AJC


Medicaid Experiment

CindyThere have been several news stories over the past couple of weeks about a Medicaid pilot project under consideration by state policymakers. WSB-TV sat down with Georgians for a Healthy Future’s Executive Director last week to talk about whether this policy discussion brings us a step closer to closing the coverage gap in Georgia. Georgia Health News, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Georgia Report are all tracking the issue. Click below for media reports featuring GHF and our partners!


How are we doing? Let us know!

feedback 2At Georgians for a Healthy Future we strive to send you emails and content that are valuable to you and your work. To help in our efforts to improve our communications, please take this two question survey! Thank you!

 

 

 


ICYMI: We’re on Pinterest!

PinterestGHF in now on Pinterest!  While you’re skimming pins for what you’re going to cook for dinner tonight or that next DIY project you are definitely going to do, let us be your daily dose of inspiration.  Follow our boards for photos of people in the coverage gap, our Somebody Finally Asked Me campaign, and access to all the great infographics we share.

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Peach Pulse, April 2015


Coverage Gap Update

While Georgia has made little progress on closing its coverage gap, the subject is a hot topic elsewhere.

  • Montana has closed its coverage gap! As the 29th state to close the gap, Montana will provide 70,000 Montanans with quality, affordable health care coverage.  The state is currently working with CMS to gain approval for its expansion proposal.
  • Face Off in Florida–The debate over closing the coverage gap is as hot as sunburnt skin after spring break! Floridians have seen a sudden and unexpected adjournment of the legislative session, a stand-off with HHS over the low-income pool (LIP), and their governor file suit against the federal government.  The debate is far from over as the legislature plans to reconvene in June to complete their legislative responsibilities.
  • Policy makers in both Alaska and Louisiana are discussing if and how to close their coverage gaps.  While their legislators debate whether or not to close the coverage gap during a special session, polls show that Alaskans are hugely in favor of the policy.  In Louisiana, Gov. Jindal remains opposed to the idea of closing his state’s coverage gap, but legislators are discussing their options.

While Montana closes its gap and other states think through their options, more and more studies are revealing that closing the coverage gap is good for states! It saves money in state budgets and facilitates job growth, especially in the health care sector.  Families USA summarized the new data in a recent blog post.

Medicaid Expansion 4.15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Need help enrolling or using your insurance?Pranaya Navigating

Pranay Rana, GHF’s health care navigator, is here to help you get covered!  Email Pranay for an appointment or check out his schedule.

Once you have health insurance, Whitney Griggs, our Consumer Education Specialist, can help answer the questions you have about finding a provider, accessing preventive services, filing a complaint or appeal, or any other question you may have!

Whitney and Pranay are both available to make educational presentations to community-based organizations in Georgia about how to enroll in health insurance and how to use coverage to access care once enrolled. If your organization would like to provide this type of presentation for your community members, please let us know! We can help!

 


Tax time special enrollment period a success!

 

taxesThe last chance to sign up for health insurance this year under the Affordable Care Act ended in April, when an extended deadline for enrollment expired.  The extension was offered to give consumers who did not know they would owe a penalty if they did not have health insurance an additional opportunity to secure coverage. Thousands took advantage of the extension and, as of April 13th, about 68,000 people had signed up nationwide under the extension.  Call centers had an average wait time of 10 minutes, showing consistent traffic.  GHF’s navigator personally assisted over 30 people during the special enrollment period!

While the next open enrollment period doesn’t begin until Nov. 1, 2015 you may qualify for a special enrollment period throughout the year.  For example, losing your health coverage because of the loss of a job, getting married, having a baby, or moving to a different state that does not offer your current plan could trigger eligibility for a special enrollment period.

If you have questions about owing a fine or special enrollment periods, please reach out to Whitney Griggs, our Consumer Education Specialist, today!


GHF Upcoming Events

GHF_enrollment_sticker

Getting Georgia Covered: Lessons Learned from Open Enrollment 2

 

Hear from an expert panel on best practices and lessons learned  during the second open enrollment period. We’ll learn about the successful strategies that enrollment assisters deployed in helping consumers, identify the challenges and barriers that remain for consumers, and discuss policy recommendations that can help get more Georgians covered. This is a free event.

Sign Up!

 

 

 


GHF Past Events

Legislative Webinar 4-15 (2)Changes in Health Care and Policy in the 2015 Georgia Legislative Session: Webinar

Watch the Webinar

Download the Presentation

 

 

 


ICYMI: Social Media Trends

ACA Celebrate#betterwithobamacare was trending on Twitter as we celebrated five years of the increased coverage and security that’s come with the Affordable Care Act.

#getcovered and #staycovered were the battle cry of OE2.  Follow those hashtags to stay on top of the enrollment movement!

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Peach Pulse, March 2015


Legislative Update

georgia-capital-buildingWith Crossover Day behind us, we are fast approaching the 40th and final legislative day for the year, April 2nd.  This week, GHF spoke with House Insurance Chairman Richard Smith about what he saw as the most important role he played as chairman. You might be surprised with his answer – click the image below to watch the video!

With just a little more than two weeks to go, here’s an update on health care legislation important to Georgia health care consumers.  For a detailed chart of every health care bill we’re watching, click here.

The FY 2016 Budget passed the House of Representatives and is now in the Senate. The Senate expects to finish their revisions to the budget this week, possibly with some new revenue. They will then send it back to the House and then to a conference committee before it is finalized.

Medicaid Parity:  The Senate proposed $5.9 million in increased reimbursements for certain OB/GYN services and $13.6 million for certain primary care services, which is an increase over the House of Representatives’ proposal ($2.96 million for OB/GYN and $1.5 million for primary care services). Because Medicaid parity has been shown to be an effective strategy for improving access to care for consumers, GHF supports raising Medicaid reimbursement rates to parity with Medicare rates. We are advocating for a higher appropriation amount for Medicaid reimbursement rate increases as the budget moves through the process.  Click here to read Georgia Health News’s coverage of this latest development.

SBIRT Resolution:  Senate HHS Chairwoman Renee Unterman officially introduced SR 487 to form a Senate Study Committee on preventing youth substance use disorders. Through GHF’s work with the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse, we are advocating for a public health approach to substance use disorders that focuses on prevention. This resolution gets the conversation started about how to do that in Georgia. Please take the time to thank Senator Unterman for her support of this effort and to let your elected officials know you support SR 487.

SB 158: (Sen. Burke) provides certain consumer and provider protections regarding health insurance, including network adequacy language. SB 158 has been referred to the Senate Insurance Committee where it received a hearing on Wednesday, March 3.  GHF provided testimony in committee, focusing specifically on the network adequacy component of the bill. GHF also met with committee members individually about the bill after the committee hearing to talk about why it is an important issue for consumers.  While the bill is not expected to move in its current form this legislative session, there will likely be a study committee on the network adequacy component. GHF has identified network adequacy as an important consumer issue and plans to remain engaged on this topic as discussions move forward.

Closing the Coverage Gap: No hearings have been scheduled or are pending to address the possibility of expanding Medicaid in Georgia. Closing Georgia’s coverage gap by expanding Medicaid would open a pathway to health insurance for approximately 300,000 uninsured Georgians, an approach which GHF supports.  Two bills have been introduced to address Georgia’s coverage gap (HR 226 and SB 38), although neither crossed over. Please thank the cosponsors of these bills, Rep. Rahn Mayo and Senator Vincent Fort, for their support and show your support by filling out a postcard that we’ll mail to your legislators!

Tobacco Tax:  No additional standalone proposals have been made to increase Georgia’s tobacco tax (other than HB 445 as previously reported).  The Senate however, may respond to the House proposal on transportation funding by including a tobacco tax increase to the regional average of around 68 cents. Importantly, Alabama’s Governor is proposing an increase in their state tobacco tax to $1.25 per pack, which would increase the regional average.  GHF continues to advocate for an increase to the national average by raising our tobacco tax by $1.23.  Such an increase would generate $585 million per year according to the fiscal note generated by the non-partisan fiscal office at GSU.  Check out our fact sheet for more info!


Medicaid Minute

Opponents often argue that closing Georgia’s coverage gap would be too expensive for our state, but data from states that expanded their Medicaid programs in 2014 contradict that claim.  According to a new study, closing the coverage gap produced big savings and increased revenues for states.

Early data from Kentucky and Arkansas show state budget savings that will offset the costs of covering the newly eligible Medicaid population beyond state fiscal year (SFY) 2021. Kentucky expects to see $820 million in net savings over the next seven years, while Arkansas expects to see $370 million over the same time period.  The savings and increased revenues fall into three major categories: 1) State savings from using new federal funds; 2) State savings from enhanced federal matching; 3) Revenue gains from provider and insurer taxes/fees.

The full issue brief, complete with a summary table of Medicaid-related savings and revenues in both states, can be found here.


GHF Welcomes New Navigator!

PranayPranaya Rana joined Georgians for a Healthy Future this week as our new Navigator! In this role, Pranaya will work with consumers to help them enroll in health insurance through the Marketplace.  Pranaya is a former Lieutenant from the Nepalese Army Elite Forces. He has served as a U.N. Peacekeeper in post-earthquake Haiti and as a Refugee Resettlement Program Officer in Connecticut before he came to Kennesaw State University, Georgia to pursue his Ph.D. in International Conflict Management in 2012.   He has been working as a certified Healthcare Navigator in Metro Atlanta since the first open enrollment began in 2013. He recently completed his 6 months long Navigator’s term at Georgia Watch before joining Georgians For a Healthy Future.  He specializes in refugees and international communities and has served a wide variety of international communities enroll into affordable healthcare using a community specific service model developed through continued outreach, education and  needs assessment. He is Fluent in Nepali and Hindi besides English, and, speaks Urdu and intermediate French. If you’d like to contact Pranaya by email or at 404-567-5016.


Using your Coverage: Tax-Time Special Enrollment Period

taxesDid you go without health insurance in 2014 and are now subject to a tax penalty? Good news! – You may still be able to enroll in coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Starting last Saturday, March 15th, some people who are facing a fine on their taxes for not having coverage can now enroll in the Marketplace through a time-limited special enrollment period. To be eligible for this special enrollment period, you must not be currently enrolled in health insurance, attest that you owe the penalty for 2014, and attest that you first became aware of the penalty when you filed your 2014 taxes. This tax-related special enrollment period will run through April 30th, 2015.  Click here to learn more about who can qualify for this special enrollment period.


Health Advocates Day at the Capitol – 3/25

informationPlease join us on Wednesday, March 25, from 8:45 am to mid-day for a morning of advocacy!  GHF will provide individuals and organizations with the opportunity to advocate for the important health issues that matter to you in the closing days of this legislative session.  You may want to advocate for closing the coverage gap, Medicaid payment parity, raising the tobacco tax, rural health care access, or another health policy issue.  You’re all invited to participate!  We’ll provide breakfast, an advocacy training, and an opportunity to share and network with other health advocates.

To sign up, click here.  If you have any questions, please contact Laura Colbert.


Post-Legislative Session Webinar

Mark your calendars!  Please join GHF and Laura Colbert for a post-legislative session webinar. The webinar is free and will provide a review of bills, resolutions, and other actions taken by the Georgia General Assembly that will affect health care and health policy in our state.

Date:Thursday, April 9

Time:12:00 – 1:00 EST

Sign up here!


 

Infographic of the Week

MEDICAID_EXPANSION_Working-Adults_infographic_final_021615

 

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Peach Pulse, March 12, 2015

Legislative Update

georgia-capital-buildingToday is the 29th day of the 2015 Legislative Session.  That means that tomorrow, Friday March 13, is crossover day.  GHF Executive Director Cindy Zeldin on what crossover day is and what it means for the rest of the legislative session.

The day before crossover day is a day of uncertainties.  Because of that, we will send out an email Monday with a full update and analysis on where legislation important to consumers’ health care stands.  For a compete list tracking health related bills – click here.


More Good News about Georgia’s Open Enrollment Numbers!

Last month it was announced that over half a million Georgians enrolled in coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Now a new report released by the Department of Health and Human Services contains even more encouraging data about the state of enrollment in Georgia. According to the report, 31% of Georgians that enrolled were between the ages of 18-34, which is a key age group since they tend to be healthier than older adults. Additionally, 90% of Georgians that selected a plan through the Marketplace received financial assistance in the form of Advanced Premium Tax Credits. The average monthly premium for Georgians using a tax credit was $73. Click here to see the full report.  Georgians for a Healthy Future’s ED talked with the Augusta Chronicle about why these numbers are so encouraging for Georgia.


Using your coverage

Preventive Services

coverageDid you know that thanks to the Affordable Care Act, you can receive certain preventive services at absolutely no cost? It’s true! One of the key requirements of the ACA is that insurance companies must cover recommended preventive services at no cost to the consumer – even if you haven’t met your deductible. These include services such as mammograms, annual physicals, colonoscopies, well-woman exams, cholesterol screenings, tobacco cessation, and many more. Click here for a full list of the preventive services that must be covered by all insurance companies. There is also an additional list of required services for women and a separate one for children. It’s important to take advantage of these no-cost preventive services to keep you and your family healthy. Evidence shows that preventive services can save lives and improve health by identifying illnesses earlier, managing them more effectively, and treating them before they become complicated and debilitating conditions.

If you have any questions about your insurance, please contact our Consumer Education Specialist, Whitney Griggs by email or at 404-567-5016 x 5


Medicaid Minute

current-status-of-the-medicaid-expansion-decisions-healthreform

States across the country are closing their coverage gaps!  The map above shows the 29 states (including DC) that have chosen to expand Medicaid.  Seven additional states are in discussions – below is a quick update on those states and their debates.

Idaho: Governor Butch Otter’s Medicaid Redesign Workgroup voted in November 2014 to recommend pursuing total health care system transformation, which includes Medicaid expansion. In addition to the Governor’s support, the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry is helping to draft Medicaid expansion legislation, and a coalition of hospitals, providers, and consumer groups is working to support that legislation.

Tennessee: In late 2014, Governor Bill Haslam announced he had reached a deal with CMS to close the coverage gap. Governor Haslam’s plan, Insure Tennessee, had the support of the hospital industry (who had agreed to fund any costs that would fall onto the state), the business community, and a strong consumer coalition. Unfortunately, Insure Tennessee failed to make it out of committee during special session in early 2015.

Utah: Governor Gary Herbert’s plan to close the coverage gap, Healthy Utah, has strong support from hospitals, businesses, county commissioners, the criminal justice community, and church leaders, and it recently passed in the Senate. However, the House has passed an alternative proposal, Utah Cares, that would provide much more limited coverage to only a portion of the population in the coverage gap. With just a few days left in the legislative session, it remains to be seen whether the legislature will reach a compromise that will close the coverage gap this year.

Maine: In 2013 and again in 2014, the Democratic-controlled legislature passed several bills to close the coverage gap, only to have them vetoed by Governor Paul LePage. Even though Republicans took control of the Senate in 2014, advocates believe there are still enough votes to pass compromise legislation. Hospitals, who had remained largely on the sidelines the past two years, are now fully engaged in the campaign to close the coverage gap there.

Alaska: Recently-elected Independent Governor Bill Walker announced plans to expand Medicaid, but there will likely be roadblocks in the Republican-dominated legislature. Hospitals are on board.

Montana: Governor Steve Bullock is strongly supportive of closing the coverage gap, and has his own proposal for doing so. It is unlikely that a bill will pass the Republican-controlled legislature.

Wyoming: Governor Matt Mead developed a plan to close the coverage gap in 2015, and a key House committee developed a competing plan. But just a few days after the special session to close the gap in Tennessee failed, the Wyoming Senate shot down Governor Mead’s expansion plan, and the House committee then pulled its bill.


Join us for Health Advocates Day at the Capitol!

informationPlease join us on Wednesday, March 25, from 8:45 am to mid-day for a morning of advocacy!  GHF will provide individuals and organizations with the opportunity to advocate for the important health issues that matter to you in the closing days of this legislative session.  You may want to advocate for closing the coverage gap, Medicaid payment parity, raising the tobacco tax, the Family Care Act, rural health care access, or another health policy issue.  You’re all invited to participate!  We’ll provide breakfast, an advocacy training, and an opportunity to share and network with other health advocates.

To sign up, click here.  If you have any questions, please contact Laura Colbert.


Sign Up for a Post-Legislative Session Webinar

Mark your calendars!  Please join GHF and Laura Colbert for a post-legislative session webinar. The webinar is free and will provide a review of bills, resolutions, and other actions taken by the Georgia General Assembly that will affect health care and health policy in our state.

Date: Thursday, April 9

Time: 12:00 – 1:00 EST

Sign up here!


Infographic of the Week

affordable-care-act-infographic GEORGIA WATCH

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