Category: Health Care

By Kelly McCutchen In rural Georgia and across the country, the uncertain future and closure of emergency rooms and hospitals are all too common. A primary factor is the long-term impact of a federal law that requires hospital emergency departments to treat and stabilize all patients, regardless of their ability to pay. This law, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), made the nation’s ERs the default health care provider for the uninsured. The federal government doesn’t cover the full cost of providing this care, however, making EMTALA a massive unfunded federal mandate. Imagine addressing other social problems like this: Eliminate hunger by requiring all restaurants to serve hungry people regardless of their ability to pay the bill. Combat… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen With the failure of the federal government to address this nation’s health care crisis, the job now falls to the states. Fortunately for the states, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides them broad authority to restructure federal funding and regulations through the underutilized State Innovation Waiver. Georgia is well-positioned to seize this opportunity and serve as a model to show the rest of the nation the way forward on health care reform. “Crisis” is an overused word, but it describes the situation for many Georgia families. Premiums for policies on the Georgia ACA exchange have more than doubled over the past four years, and they could increase by up to 40 percent next year. In exchange for… View Article
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Sunday edition of August 6, 2017, published an op-ed by Georgia Public Policy Foundation President Kelly McCutchen on state-based solutions to health care. The op-ed is reprinted in full below; access it online on the newspaper’s website here. Opinion: Ga. should seek flexibility waiver to help meet care needs By Kelly McCutchen The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Sunday edition of August 6, 2017, published an op-ed by Georgia Public Policy Foundation President Kelly McCutchen on state-based solution to health care. The op-ed is reprinted in full below; access it online on the newspaper’s website here. With the failure of the federal government to address this nation’s health care crisis, the job now falls to the states. Fortunately… View Article

Kicking the Deadly Opioid Abuse Habit

By Megan May Drug overdoses, mainly opioid-affiliated, have surged in the United States in recent years. According to recent health data, deaths from drug overdose will soon surpass the number of deaths due to motor vehicle accidents each year in Georgia. This substance abuse problem warrants serious concern regarding Georgia’s state of public health, and the problem only escalates as weeks pass. Tackling the opioid epidemic is no easy feat, and understanding the scope of the problem is the first step in securing a future where lives are not lost to drug addiction. Opioid medications such as morphine, tramadol, oxycodone and methadone are widely prescribed to patients suffering from moderate to severe pain. These medicines are legal and provide needed… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen As Congress returns next week from its Independence Day recess, health care will be front and center. Amid the noise from special interest groups drowning out substantive debate, one proposal that could enormously benefit Georgia has gone unnoticed. The current U.S. Senate proposal, like the House version, introduces Medicaid per-capita block grants in 2020. Per-capita block grants have at one time or another been supported by both Democrats and Republicans. Putting Medicaid spending on a budget delights fiscal conservatives and deficit hawks. As opposed to a traditional block grant, funding would adjust up and down based on the number of enrollees in the program. This protects states from surging rolls during a recession while saving federal and… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen Addressing pre-existing issues and helping low-income individuals afford health insurance are two major issues being debated in health care reform. The challenge is avoiding unintended consequences by making sure the right incentives are in place. Insurance Regulations Before the Affordable Care Act (ACA), states regulated individual and small group insurance. The ACA preempted state regulations and imposed a host of new federal requirements. These regulations primarily impacted the individual insurance market, where only seven percent of Georgians get their health insurance. These new regulations included: Guaranteed Issue: Even though insurance is based on the concept of providing financial protection for “unforeseeable” future events, this regulation forced insurance to cover pre-existing condition. Community Rating: This regulation… View Article

Who are Georgia’s Uninsured?

By Kelly McCutchen The chart below breaks down Georgia’s 1.38 million uninsured residents based on Census Bureau data for 2016. The vertical axis represents income as a percent of the federal poverty level, which is about $12,000 for a single person. The largest group, 469,000 people represented by the bar at the bottom, is 100 percent of the federal poverty level and below. That’s 34 percent of the total uninsured individuals. If you include everyone from 200 percent of the poverty level and below, that represents 59 percent of the total. The colors represent age. The dark blue group on the far left represents those under 29, which is 44 percent of the total. Sixty-one percent are under 40. This… View Article
In a June 27, 2017, article by James Salzer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted Kelly McCutchen, president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, on the state auditing enrollee eligibility on the State Health Benefit Plan. The article, “Georgia saves up to $56 million booting ineligibles from health plan,” is reprinted below and is available online here.  Georgia saves up to $56 million booting ineligibles from health plan By James Salzer The state is hoping to save up to $56 million a year by removing ineligible family members of those enrolled in the State Health Benefit Plan from the program. The state Department of Community Health, which administers Medicaid as well as the State Health Benefit Plan for teachers,… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen As the August recess fast approaches, procedural rules require health care to be addressed before Congress can move on to other important issues like taxes and infrastructure. Below are five ideas that would move health care reform in the right direction and hopefully create the momentum needed to get to a resolution. Fund uncompensated care. Federal law requires hospital emergency departments to treat anyone regardless of their ability to pay, but federal funding covers only a small portion of the cost. In Georgia, for example, uncompensated care for people too poor to pay their bills amounts to over $1 billion a year. If hospitals can’t shift the cost to state and local taxpayers or private insurance,… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen Rising health care costs are squeezing middle-class families, as this chart published by the Wall Street Journal based on Brookings Institution analysis clearly shows. These families could care less about AHCA vs ACA, they just want some relief. The good news is that a new analysis shows that implementing the reforms in the American Health Care Act (AHCA) that was passed in the U.S. House of Representatives today will lower premiums across the board. The analysis by the Milliman actuarial firm analyzed the impact of changing the 3:1 age rating limit in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to the 5:1 ratio in the AHCA bill and implementing an Invisible Risk-Sharing Program (also known as an Invisible High-Risk… View Article

I wanted to publicly say how much I appreciate Georgia Public Policy Foundation.  For those of you that will be entering the Legislature or are relatively new you may not quite yet appreciate how much we rely on Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s research and work.  As you know we’re a citizen’s legislature.  We have very little staff. They have been an invaluable, invaluable resource to us.  To put this [Forum] on and the regular programs that they do throughout the year make us better at what we do. (At the 2012 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum.)

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