Category: Health Care

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

Return Insurance Regulation to the States

By Ralph T. Hudgens Much of the impasse in Washington regarding health care reform relates to health insurance regulation and mandates. There is a very simple solution: Return the power to regulate insurance back to the states, where it rightly belongs. Certainly, Congress should be able to find common ground in the desire to lower costs, improve quality and empower states. Much of the talk in recent months has been about how difficult it will be to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The focus of the conversation should instead be on the consequences to the American people if Congress does not repeal this failed overhaul of the health insurance industry. When the ACA was first implemented, as the Commissioner… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen Be careful when you set a new precedent, because your decision could come back to haunt you. Senate Democrats executed the first partisan filibuster of a U.S. Supreme Court nominee in our nation’s history this week. In response, Senate Republicans are expected to vote to change Senate rules to allow confirmation by a simple majority vote – the “nuclear option” – instead of the current 60-vote majority rule. Republicans cite precedent to justify their actions. Democrats changed Senate rules in 2013, ditching the 60-vote rule to allow a simple majority vote on Cabinet nominees and lower-court judges. The Wall Street Journal cites a floor speech by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Nov. 13, 2013, where she called… View Article
In 2016, Senate legislation seeking to clarify that Direct Primary Care is not insurance did not make it out of the Georgia Senate. In 2017, the Senate unanimously approved similar DPC legislation and the House Insurance Committee reported favorably on the bill on March 20, but the House Rules Committee did not place the legislation on the calendar by March 30 for a House vote before Sine Die. By Loren King Dr. Loren King In primary care medicine, offices visits require understanding and knowledge of multiple complicated and interrelated medical, social and economic concerns to adequately parse decision making. Health care is complicated and personal and, at its very foundation, it is conversation, friendship and hope. Unfortunately, the economics of… View Article

To have an organization dedicated to the study of the problems that face Georgia in a bipartisan way….is absolutely one of the finest things that’s happened to our state.

The late W. H. Flowers, Jr., Chairman, Flowers industries, Inc. more quotes