Health Students Taking Action Together, Inc. (HealthSTAT) is an interdisciplinary, nonprofit, member organization run by health professional students in Georgia. We engage students in leadership through service, education, and advocacy, with a focus on health for all. By mobilizing students to take action on health issues confronting Georgia, we foster a civic ethic in future leaders that will benefit our state for years to come.

HealthSTAT believes that Medicaid expansion is a good deal for Georgia because it will save lives, promote preventive health care, and preserve the safety net hospitals which serve millions of Georgians and which train Georgians' current and future health providers. Medicaid Expansion will also bring billions of dollars of federal investment to the state and spurn the creation of over 70,000 jobs.

This site will be updated regularly, so please check by often. Remember to click on "take action" above to help support Medicaid expansion in Georgia!

Please note: This blog "tumbles" down as we add new content. To sort stories or posts, click on a blue tag in the box below (i.e. "medicaidexpansion101" or "gooddealforgeorgia") or at the bottom of any post.
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As Fulton County commissioners work on a new budget for 2014, they face strong public opposition to one plan currently on the table: to cut some $25 million (about half their annual contribution) to Grady Memorial Hospital.

At a hearing today, representatives from the Grady Coalition and Mercy Care, as well as HealthSTAT leaders and other medical students from Morehouse and Emory, urged the commissioners to restore full funding to Grady. But State Senator Vincent Fort reminded the commissioners and the audience that other issues, including changes made by the state legislature to Fulton’s homestead exemption (for property taxes), DSH funding distribution formulas, and the Governor’s refusal to expand Medicaid, were at the heart of the crisis Grady may find itself in next year.

“We ought to hold some folk accountable and tell the entire truth about why Grady is in the position it is in. It is because the governor has chosen not to do Medicaid expansion.”

Georgia has a high proportion of uninsured residents. This is a weakness and a vulnerability for our economy, since these folks tend to be less productive over time. Moreover, this is a serious burden on our hospitals and emergency rooms. Georgia is a great state; we can afford to do the right thing by our working poor.
K.M. from Snellville, GA
Several non-expansion states (including Georgia) have requirements that counties contribute to the non-federal share of Medicaid costs or provide some kind of indigent care. “Local government, long the caretaker of safety nets, essentially gets the responsibility without the resources – or even without a say in whether to accept them.” The article above, which features Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, is another piece of the story of why Expansion Is a Good Deal.
On the article linked above, the New York Times focuses on the threat to Georgia safety net hospitals in the face of upcoming DSH funding cuts and our Governor’s continued refusal to expand Medicaid.

The [DSH] subsidy, which for years has helped defray the cost of uncompensated and undercompensated care, was cut substantially on the assumption that the hospitals would replace much of the lost income with payments for patients newly covered by Medicaid or private insurance. But now the hospitals in states like Georgia will get neither the new Medicaid patients nor most of the old subsidies, which many say are crucial to the mission of care for the poor.

The article noted that rural hospitals rely heavily on the subsidies, and according to estimates as many as 15 in Georgia could close in the coming months. Representatives from Grady Hospital in Atlanta, which could lose up to $45 billion per year, noted that key programs such as their outpatient behavioral health services could be at risk if cuts take place without Medicaid expansion.
Come to our vigil next Saturday night to tell state leaders they must #CoverGA to avoid unnecessary death and suffering from lack of insurance.

In explaining his refusal to expand Medicaid, Governor Deal has claimed the federal government won’t offer the state any flexibility that could help in reducing costs. (He has asked to receive Medicaid funds as a “block grant” or lump sum and be excused from requirements to cover certain people or provide certain benefits.) Patient advocates understandably have many concerns tat a block grant would limit access to care, and to date this has been a non-starter in discussions between the Obama administration and states refusing to expand Medicaid.

The article linked above - published in the New England Journal of Medicine this week - details Michigan’s approach to Medicaid Expansion and describes the many ways Michigan is using AVAILABLE flexibility to limit the state’s associated costs. Michigan is one of three Republican-controlled states that have approved plans to extend Medicaid eligibility. Amongst other provisions, the bill expanding and reforming Medicaid includes cost-sharing for new enrollees with incomes between 100%-133% of the federal poverty level. Enrollees and their employers can contribute to health savings accounts to prevent cost-sharing from being too much of a burden.

It’s time for Governor Deal to recognize there are ways to protect Georgia’s fiscal future while also protecting 400,000 Georgians in the coverage gap the hardship and unnecessary suffering caused by uninsurance. #ExpansionIsAGoodDeal #CoverGeorgia

Who are Georgia’s uninsured? Dr. Jacqueline Fincher makes her case for Medicaid expansion based on her experiences with her own patients in rural Georgia. #coverga

For the past year, the Georgia Hospital Association has been mum about Medicaid Expansion. Today, citing concerns about further hospital closures or layoffs in a state that has already seen three hospitals close their doors this year, the GHA came out in favor of expanding Medicaid to cover all adults up to 138% of the federal poverty line. The spokesperson noted: “We just feel like there’s a better way to handle this. Those dollars are there and the need is great.”

This is great news as it increases pressure on Governor Deal to change course and #CoverGeorgia! Click the link above to read or listen to the story from WABE.

In the news brief from the Kaiser Family Foundation, we learn about early success stories from state-run exchanges that have opened on October 1st. Many low-income consumers, including more than 26,000 Kentuckians and 23,000 New Yorkers, were screened at the marketplace and then steered to Medicaid enrollment. Meanwhile, more than 62,000 people in Arkansas have been approved for that state’s innovative, alternative Medicaid model, which uses Medicaid funds to subsidize private insurance for low-income residents.

This could be happening in Georgia right now had Governor Deal agreed to move forward with Expansion!

Ohio just pushed the country past a symbolic threshold: it’s become the 25th state to pursue expanding Medicaid under the president’s health-care law, making the nation’s states evenly split on the issue for the first time.

Some 275,000 adults are expected to benefit from Medicaid expansion beginning on January 1, 2014. Governor Kasich is the eighth Republican governor to be overseeing a Medicaid expansion, and the fourth coming from a state in which GOP controlling the legislature and the governor’s office. (See Georgia?! You could become the fifth…)

According to a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation:

The expansion of Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) fills in historical gaps in coverage for adults and is a key piece of the continuum of new coverage options. However, in states that do not expand Medicaid, over five million poor uninsured adults have incomes above Medicaid eligibility levels but below poverty and may fall into a coverage gap of earning too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to qualify for Marketplace premium tax credits.

In Georgia, over 409,000 adults are expected to fall into the coverage gap - that’s 85% of our poor (<100% FPL), nonelderly, uninsured adults, and 31% of all our nonelderly uninsured adults.

If you’re wondering why this number is lower than the estimates of those who would be eligible for Medicaid expansion (often given as 500,000 or 650,000) - it’s because adults whose incomes fall between 100% and 139% of the poverty level are eligible for subsidies (tax credits) on the exchange/Marketplace and thus don’t fall into the “coverage gap.” This is a group who will be covered by Medicaid expansion in states that are moving forward.

Check out some nice reporting from Creative Loafing!

Jon Stewart Blasts Governors Who Refuse To Expand Medicaid

I support the Medicaid expansion in Georgia because it will be good for our economy. Healthy workers are stronger workers, and health coverage means people will get the care they need early, preventing more severe illness and saving lives.
L.W. in Atlanta, GA
I have needed Medicaid services in the past have and have been told that I am not eligible because I work and got to school full time; [it] was hurtful to know that at the time that I really needed help, there was no help to be found.
A.S. in Atlanta, GA
Too many Georgians do not have adequate health care or insurance. Healthy Georgians are an asset to their community and the state.
E.K. in Atlanta, GA
I am a Food Stamps / Medicaid eligibility specialist working at DFCS. Every day I have to explain to adults why they are not eligible to receive medical assistance. I would like to be able to give them good news because of Medicaid expansion.
DFCS worker in Macon, GA