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Rep. Johnson Highlights Benefits of Healthcare Law in GA

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Today, Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-04) announced that a new report shows that hundreds of thousands of people in Georgia are already benefiting from the Affordable Care Act. The third anniversary of the Affordable Care Act falls on March 23.

"It has only been three years since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, but millions of Americans are already seeing lower costs and better coverage," Rep. Johnson stated. "This includes hundreds of thousands of people right here in Georgia." A new report by HHS provides estimates by state of the number of people benefiting from the law.

"Residents of my state -- ranging from young adults to seniors to children -- are receiving critical benefits from this health care law," Rep. Johnson pointed out.

The new report shows that the health care law has already provided:

Expanding health insurance coverage in every state
The Affordable Care Act will expand health insurance coverage by establishing a Health Insurance Marketplace in every state and increasing access to the Medicaid program. 1,698,883 or 20% of Georgia's non-elderly residents are uninsured, of whom 1,592,479 (94%) may qualify for either tax credits to purchase coverage in the Marketplace or for Medicaid if Georgia participates in the Medicaid expansion.

Establishing the Health Insurance Marketplace. When key parts of the health care law take effect in 2014, there'll be a new way for individuals, families and small businesses to get health insurance. Beginning Oct. 1, 2013, individuals in every state will be able to shop for health insurance and compare plans through the Marketplace.

Increasing Access to Medicaid. The Affordable Care Act also fills in gaps in coverage for the poorest Americans by giving states the option to expand Medicaid to individuals under 65 years of age with income below 133 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) (approximately $14,000 for an individual and $29,000 for a family of four) beginning in January 2014. States will receive 100% federal funding for the first three years to support this expanded coverage, phasing to 90% federal funding in subsequent years. In addition, Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) eligibility and enrollment will be much simpler and will be coordinated with the Marketplace.

Providing new coverage options for young adults
Health plans are now required to allow parents to keep their children under age 26 without job-based coverage on their family coverage, and, thanks to this provision, 3.1 million young people have gained coverage nationwide. As of December 2011, 123,000 young adults in Georgia gained insurance coverage as a result of the health care law.

Making prescription drugs affordable for seniors
The Affordable Care Act makes prescription drug coverage (Part D) for people with Medicare more affordable. It does this by gradually closing the gap in drug coverage known as the "donut hole." Since the enactment of the law, 6.1 million Americans with Medicare who reached the donut hole have saved over $5.7 billion on prescription drugs. Nationwide, drug savings of $2.5 billion in 2012 were higher than the $2.3 billion in savings for 2011. In Georgia, people with Medicare saved over $161.9 million on prescription drugs since the law's enactment. In 2012 alone, 99,057 individuals in Georgia saved over $72.5 million, or an average of $732 per beneficiary. In 2012, people with Medicare in the "donut hole" received a 50 percent discount on covered brand name drugs and 14 percent discount on generic drugs. And thanks to the Affordable Care Act, coverage for both brand name and generic drugs will continue to increase over time until the coverage gap is closed.

Covering preventive services with no deductible or co-pay
The health care law requires many insurance plans to provide coverage without cost sharing to enrollees for a variety of preventive health services, such as colonoscopy screening for colon cancer, Pap smears and mammograms for women, well-child visits, and flu shots for all children and adults. The law also makes proven preventive services free for most people on Medicare.

In 2011 and 2012, 71 million Americans with private health insurance gained preventive service coverage with no cost-sharing, including 2,202,000 in Georgia. And for policies renewing on or after August 1, 2012, women can now get coverage without cost-sharing of even more preventive services they need. Approximately 47 million women, including 1,481,402 in Georgia will now have guaranteed access to additional preventive services without cost-sharing.

The Affordable Care Act is also removing barriers for people with Medicare. With no deductibles or co-pays, cost is no longer a barrier for seniors and people with disabilities who want to stay healthy by detecting and treating health problems early. In 2012 alone, an estimated 34.1 million people with Medicare benefited from Medicare's coverage of preventive services with no cost-sharing. In Georgia, 742,634 individuals with traditional Medicare used one or more free preventive service in 2012.

Providing better value for your premium dollar through the 80/20 Rule
Under the new health care law, insurance companies must provide consumers greater value by spending generally at least 80 percent of premium dollars on health care and quality improvements instead of overhead, executive salaries or marketing. If they don't, they must provide consumers a rebate or reduce premiums. This means that 243,813 Georgia residents with private insurance coverage will benefit from $19,764,771 in rebates from insurance companies this year, for an average rebate of $134 per family covered by a policy.

Removing lifetime limits on health benefits
The law bans insurance companies from imposing lifetime dollar limits on health benefits -- freeing cancer patients and individuals suffering from other chronic diseases from having to worry about going without treatment because of their lifetime limits. Already, 3,317,000 people in Georgia, including 1,256,000 women and 916,000 children, are free from worrying about lifetime limits on coverage. The law also restricts the use of annual limits and bans them completely in 2014.

Creating new coverage options for individuals with pre-existing conditions
As of August 2012, 3,726 previously uninsured residents of Georgia who were locked out of the coverage system because of a pre-existing condition are now insured through a new Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan that was created under the new health reform law. To learn more about the plan available in Georgia, check here.

Supporting Georgia's work on Affordable Insurance Exchanges
Georgia has received $1,000,000 in grants for research, planning, information technology development, and implementation of Affordable Insurance Exchanges.

$1,000,000 in Planning Grants: This grant provides Georgia the resources needed to conduct the research and planning necessary to build a better health insurance marketplace and determine how its exchange will be operated and governed. Learn how the funds are being used in Georgia here.
Preventing illness and promoting health (Last Updated: March 15, 2012)
Since 2010, Georgia has received $18,200,000 in grants from the Prevention and Public Health Fund created by the Affordable Care Act. This new fund was created to support effective policies in Georgia, its communities, and nationwide so that all Americans can lead longer, more productive lives.

Increasing support for community health centers and primary care clinicians
The Affordable Care Act increases the funding available to community health centers nationwide. In Georgia, 29 health centers operate 165 sites, providing preventive and primary health care services to 317,299 people. Health Center grantees in Georgia have received $71,147,340 under the Affordable Care Act to support ongoing health center operations and to establish new health center sites, expand services, and/or support major capital improvement projects.

As a result of historic investments through the Affordable Care Act and the Recovery Act, the numbers of clinicians in the National Health Service Corps are at all-time highs with nearly 10,000 Corps clinicians providing care to more than 10.4 million people who live in rural, urban, and frontier communities. The National Health Service Corps repays educational loans and provides scholarships to primary care physicians, dentists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, behavioral health providers, and other primary care providers who practice in areas of the country that have too few health care professionals to serve the people who live there. As of September 30, 2012, there were 228 Corps clinicians providing primary care services in Georgia compared to 53 in 2008.

Strengthening partnerships with Georgia

The law gives states support for their work to build the health care workforce, crack down on fraud, and support public health. These partnerships help ensure that health care providers are working where they are needed most - in both urban and rural areas. They ensure that half a million people annually get access to HIV/AIDS treatment and access to high quality primary care services.

Examples of Affordable Care Act grants to Georgia not outlined above include:

$4,953,436 for school-based health centers to help clinics expand their capacity to provide more health care services and modernize their facilities.
$287,100 for Family-to-Family Health Information Centers, organizations run by and for families with children with special health care needs.
$14,389,032 for Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Programs. These programs bring health professionals, social workers, or paraprofessionals to meet with at-risk families in their homes and connect families to the kinds of help that can make a real difference in a child's health, development, and ability to learn - such as health care, early education, parenting skills, child abuse prevention, and nutrition.

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