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So now, we keep moving forward to fully implement all provisions of the health law, the Affordable Care Act, here in Georgia. We continue working toward establishing an insurance exchange for the state and streamlining enrollment processes for health coverage within Medicaid, PeachCare for Kids, and within the Exchange.

For those who want to keep score, with this most recent decision, our “court count” stands at: 

  • 2 courts who ruled to uphold the law;
  • 12 courts who outright dismissed the constitutional challenges;
  • 1 court who ruled the individual mandate provision unconstitutional; and
  • 1 court who ruled the entire law unconstitutional.

Many believe that this case eventually will be heard by the Supreme Court, but there’s no clear idea of when that will happen. What we do know is that the Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land, and Georgia must fully comply with all requirements under the law. 

Looking forward it’s difficult to predict how long the legal fight will continue.   But looking back, we can witness how our state already has benefitted since the law was passed. Insurance companies can no longer drop coverage when children get sick. Insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to children based on a pre-existing condition.  And Georgia already has received $34.9 million of federal dollars newly available to states under the Affordable Care Act. 

With these and other benefits children in Georgia already have received under the health law, we must consider whether we can afford to have them all stripped away?

Joann Yoon, Assoc. Policy Director for Child Health

Voices for Georgia’s Children

We have all been waiting with baited breath to see what legislation is going to emerge from the Tax Reform Council’s (TRC) recently published recommendations. Today, the legislative committee that will make those decisions will meet at the Capitol, I presume to start to hammer out a bill, which is ultimately to be voted up or down as a whole by the Chambers. That said, I plan to make the next couple of Blogs about our take on parts of the TRC’s recommendations.

First, I’d like to address the proposal to increase the State Tobacco Excise Tax. The TRC proposes to increase the cigarette tax by a mere $0.31/pack, with an index for inflation for future years. While we applaud the desire to increase the tax on this product, $0.31 is not nearly enough to deter smoking by kids or adults. The Council argues that it is “mindful of the importance of business in our border communities and therefore recommends keeping the rate competitive with neighboring states.”

Remember that quote and read these statistics from the American Cancer Society:
• 90 % of adult smokers started before they were 18 years old;
• For every 10% increase in the price of cigarettes, there is a 6% reduction in use by kids;
• $1/pack tax increase would prevent about 71,000 kids from starting to smoke; and
• Save the state Medicaid program almost $485 million over 5 years

Now see if you can answer this:
Why do we want to be “competitive” when selling products which irrefutably cause cancer and drive up healthcare costs?

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February 2011
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