Guest Blogger: Cindy Zeldin Discusses Medicaid Expansion in Georgia

On Friday, October 19, GBPI will host its Fall Policy Forum, Expanding Health Coverage in Georgia, to discuss the benefits of the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. Attendees will hear from two nationally renowned health care policy experts who recently authored groundbreaking studies that highlight the substantial benefits of Medicaid coverage: Dr. Heidi Allen and Dr. Benjamin Sommers. Attendees will also have an opportunity to participate in a panel discussion led by GBPI Director of Health Policy Timothy Sweeney and Executive Director of Georgians for a Healthy Future, Cindy Zeldin.

Cindy Zeldin, Executive Director of Georgians for a Healthy Future is our guest blogger this week.  

Medicaid Expansion in Georgia

By Cindy Zeldin

Thank you to the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute for inviting me to be a part of the 2012 Fall Policy Forum, Expanding Health Coverage in Georgia.

In my role as Executive Director of Georgians for a Healthy Future, a non-profit consumer health advocacy organization, I’m currently working with colleagues to build and mobilize support for covering the uninsured through an expansion of Medicaid in Georgia.

This summer, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, but ruled that states could choose whether or not to implement an expansion of Medicaid. Since then, all eyes have shifted to the states to see what they would do.

Georgia policymakers have long recognized our state’s high number of uninsured as a strain on our state’s health care delivery system and a weight on Georgia’s economy. The tragic reality is that one in five Georgians struggle to access medical care when they need it. Until now, however, the state hasn’t had the tools or resources to comprehensively address the issue.

It is by no means a slam-dunk, however, that Georgia policymakers will take full advantage of these tools and resources. In fact, we are seeing a fair amount of resistance to them. This is why it is critical that we make a strong evidence-based case on the value of coverage in general, particularly Medicaid. We often hear anecdotally that having Medicaid is no better than being uninsured, and yet, the evidence shows us otherwise. The evidence tells us that coverage matters and that having Medicaid matters.

In recent weeks, we have heard quite a bit in Georgia about the cost of expanding Medicaid, but far too little about the benefits of doing so. This upcoming conversation will add balance to the current debate by providing strong, research-based information about what it means when people gain coverage through Medicaid, in terms of their experience accessing the health care system and their health outcomes.

At the forum, I’ll join the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute’s Director of Health Policy Tim Sweeney in a facilitated question and answer session following presentations from renowned health care experts, Dr. Allen and Dr. Sommers.

It is my hope that on October 19th after hearing from Dr. Allen and Dr. Sommers about their landmark research on Medicaid, we can use this information to have an honest debate about what is at stake in this decision, for Georgia consumers, health care providers, and the state’s economy. Bring your thoughts and your questions—we can’t wait for the conversation!




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