Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Urgent: We Cannot Let This Stand

More bad news on PeachCare from Family Connection Partnership:


HHS Committee Passes HB 340, which cuts PeachCare eligibility from 235 percent of the FPL to 200 percent
House Health and Human Services (HHS) committee favorably passed HB 340 (Speaker Richardson), which cuts PeachCare eligibility from 235 percent to 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). This bill will go up for a vote in the House as early as tomorrow (Day 29), but no later than Tues., March 27 (Day 30). Proponents for the bill state that this will save the PeachCare program money in the future. Opponents believe the bill will negatively impact children.

What does the bill do?

All children who are currently enrolled (prior to March 11) can maintain coverage. Eligibility for children who enroll after the bill’s effective date must be below 200 percent of the FPL.
Changes the benefit package to mirror the state health benefit plan, which is not designed for children. PeachCare program benefits were designed with children in mind.
Vision and dental coverage would be optional and available with an additional premium.

What do we know?
Cutting PeachCare eligibility from 235 percent to 200 percent of the FPL would prevent 3,000 – 5,000 children per year from getting coverage.
Dental and vision coverage are standard SCHIP (PeachCare) benefits throughout the nation.
35 of the 36 separate SCHIP programs throughout the United States cover eye-glasses for SCHIP kids.
35 of the 36 separate SCHIP programs cover preventive vision services, and 35 of the 36 cover dental treatment services.
All programs that are Medicaid expansion programs cover full dental and vision care.
Georgia has the sixth highest number of uninsured children in the United States (300,000).
Georgia has the highest rate of children without health insurance (12.5 percent).

Family Connection Partnership and Family Connection work to improve the conditions of children and families throughout Georgia. We track and measure outcomes for children—particularly regarding the health and well-being of children.

If this is important to you, and the children and families in your community, please share this information with your collaborative and key partners. If your community would like to express concerns to your representatives, for contact information visit http://www.legis.state.ga.us/legis/2007_08/house/07alpha.html.

Other bills related to PeachCare:
HB 620 and HB 625 (Reps. Ron Stephens, Pat Gardner, Judy Manning, and others) would allow Georgia to use Medicaid funds to protect PeachCare coverage for children and would not cut eligibility or services. Both bills are assigned to House Insurance.

House Appropriations Subcommittees have been hard at work during the interim and have completed their recommendations for the amended FY07 budget. Highlights from Subcommittee recommendations:
· $1 million in the Department of Community Health budget for “new start” Community Health Centers to be administered by the Georgia Association for Primary Care in Bacon, Bibb, Gwinnett, and Lanier counties
· $1 million in the Department of Human Resources (DHR) budget for additional funding for the Babies Born Healthy program
· $250,000 in the DHR budget to Children’s Advocacy Centers of Georgia for a Web-based case tracking system
House Appropriations will vote on the amended FY07 budget on March19. House Appropriations Subcommittees are meeting this week to finalize their recommendations for the FY08 budget.

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