Policy / Health Care /
Policy

Health Care

All Georgians deserve access to quality, affordable healthcare services to support their physical and mental well-being and to experience financial security. During the pandemic, more than 37,000 Georgians have died from Covid complications, and thousands more have been temporarily or permanently disabled. The mental health impact of Covid and the stress of the pandemic continue to affect nearly every community. The share of Georgia adults who reported increased anxiety or depression spiked by 30% in 2021, yet we have 143 mental health care providers for every 100,000 people in Georgia. Our rural health care delivery system, already fragile due to Georgia’s failure to expand Medicaid, has been stretched even further by the Covid pandemic, and our rural communities are reeling. In Hancock County, one out of every 100 people has died from Covid complications.

While Covid has ravaged our state, other health care challenges have persisted. Georgia leads much of the nation in the number of uninsured, a terrible ranking with real consequences. Our state’s children are also in jeopardy: About four-in-ten of our counties have no general pediatricians. Additionally, about half of our counties have no Ob/Gyns and about half have no psychiatrists. Georgia’s continued inaction on Medicaid expansion is a catastrophe for our families, our communities, our under-resourced public health and our overworked hospital system

As governor, I will work every day to directly address our state’s health outcomes, strengthen our state’s health care delivery system and increase access to meaningful health coverage for all Georgians.

Medicaid

Georgia is one of only 12 states that has refused to expand Medicaid. More than 1.5 million Georgians lack health insurance coverage and our uninsured rate is the second-highest in the nation. When we expand Medicaid, more than 500,000 additional Georgians will have access and be able to see a health care provider without fear of medical debt, more than 60,000 new jobs will be generated in our local economies and more rural hospitals will be able to keep their doors open.

Cost of Insulin

Addressing the skyrocketing cost of insulin and health care access for Georgians living with diabetes is a critical tenet of my plan to expand access to quality, affordable health care. 

  • Expand Medicaid so eligible Georgians living with diabetes who are uninsured and cannot afford the costs of treatment gain affordable access to the services and medications they need to stay healthy and help them control their diabetes, beginning with affordable insulin.
  • Implement a safety net Emergency Insulin Program. Provide an emergency one-month supply of insulin for qualifying low- and moderate-income Georgians who have gaps in health insurance coverage or who may be unable to pay for their monthly insulin supply due to the loss of a job, a recent move, or other circumstances.
  • Demand federal action while serving as a partner with leaders in Washington. Reverend Warnock’s Affordable Insulin Now Act would cap the patient cost of insulin at $35 a month. If the federal government has not taken meaningful action or could be doing more, I will use the full influence of the governor’s office to be an advocate for Georgians living with diabetes.

Read the full plan here.

Quality, Affordable Coverage

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Georgians cannot be denied health insurance or charged more because of a pre-existing condition. Georgians without access to employer-based coverage can compare health insurance options through healthcare.gov and choose the plan that best meets their needs and budget. Despite numerous attempts by Republicans and the Trump Administration to repeal the ACA, it remains the law of the land. During the most recent open enrollment period, 11 health insurers offered plans and 701,135 Georgians enrolled in coverage. This life-saving coverage is threatened by Brian Kemp’s dangerous waiver scheme that would block healthcare.gov in Georgia. As governor I will work to increase meaningful coverage options, keep premiums down, and safeguard consumer protections. I will withdraw Kemp’s dangerous waiver and redouble efforts to provide accurate and unbiased information to Georgia consumers about their health insurance options.

Behavioral Health

Georgia ranks 48th in the nation for mental health access, and 150 of our 159 counties are considered mental health professional shortage areas. In recent years, suicides have increased, drug overdoses have increased, and unmet need for mental health services is reaching crisis levels among both children and adults. As governor I will:

  • Expand Medicaid to unlock additional federal dollars to address behavioral health, open up access to care for behavioral health services for uninsured Georgians, and provide a more sustainable reimbursement stream for providers
  • Enforce behavioral health parity so that Georgians with health insurance don’t have to jump through extra hoops to get the life-saving care they need

Health Equity

The geographic, racial and ethnic disparities that Georgians experience every day in our state are stark, documented and unacceptable. Georgia has been called the most dangerous state for pregnant women because of our high maternal mortality rates, particularly for Black mothers. The burden of chronic disease falls unevenly in our state. For example, African Americans in our state die from complications from diabetes at more than twice the rate of white people. These disparities stem from inequities in health coverage and access to care, but also from social determinants of health such as poverty and lack of access to nutritious foods, safe and stable housing and reliable transportation. As governor I will:

  • Establish Georgia’s Health Equity Action Team to cut through the red tape and help Georgians better navigate the maze of state agencies, private providers and insurance regulations they face when they simply want to get well.
  • Address health care disparities, including by requiring that health plans doing business with the state identify and develop solutions that address health care disparities in access and outcomes within the populations they serve.
  • Implement pilot programs that leverage community-based solutions to address social determinants of health and health inequities, recognizing that one-size-fits all solutions may not work across our diverse state.

Reproductive Freedom

My plan will support safe pregnancies, invest in maternal healthcare, fund rural hospitals and recruit and retain physicians statewide—especially in under-served areas and the 82 counties that have no OB-GYN. We will also work to repeal Brian Kemp’s extreme and dangerous ban on abortion after six weeks.

Defend Reproductive Rights and Privacy

Protect and expand the rights of women and families to make healthcare decisions and defend the ability of doctors to provide medical care. Veto legislation that would further restrict abortion rights and work to repeal the 6-week abortion ban.

Support Safe Pregnancies

Promote prenatal healthcare for women and their families, including full-range access to care in the event of miscarriage or other complications. Protect doctors who serve families during pregnancy loss.

Promote Equity in Access to Family Planning

Ensure all Georgians have access to the health care they need, including reproductive health care. Work to increase safe and affordable access to contraceptives and achieve reproductive justice for women and families.

Recruit and Retain Physicians Statewide

Work with medical schools to replicate programs like Mercer’s Nathan Deal Scholarship program, which provides tuition funds for students who commit to serving at least four years post-graduation in medically-underserved rural Georgia.

Increase Availability of Plan B and Emergency Contraception

Ensure that clinics and healthcare providers can provide emergency contraception that is affordable and accessible to all in need.

Cut Funding for “Crisis Pregnancy Centers”

End state funding of so-called “crisis pregnancy centers,” which lack oversight, do not use medically sound standards, and do not provide medically accurate information to women who are pregnant.

Invest in Critical Maternal Healthcare

Fund rural hospitals through immediate Medicaid expansion. Leverage state and federal programs to incentivize more doctors and medical personnel to locate in under-served areas and reduce our maternal and infant mortality rates. 

Protect Those in Need of Services

Expand protections for clinic escorts to ensure that patients in need of reproductive healthcare are safe. Prosecute those who harm patients outside of reproductive healthcare providers.

Deprioritize Abortion-Related Prosecutions

While the 6-week ban is in effect, urge all state law enforcement and prosecutors to resist the criminalization of abortion by deprioritizing abortion-related arrests and subsequent prosecution.

Health Care Workers

Health care workers are experiencing burnout, depression and anxiety. Since February 2020, the health care industry is down 306,000 jobs nationwide. More than half of acute and critical care nurses are thinking about leaving the profession, exacerbating existing nursing shortages. 

  • Address chronic and new health care worker staffing shortages. We must also address burnout in the health care profession and recruit and retain health care providers in our rural communities. 
  • Re-invest in our state’s public health infrastructure. Grow our network of community health workers, doulas, home-visiting service providers and peer support specialists to help Georgians get connected to and use the health care, behavioral health and social services they need to be healthy and productive.

Covid Long-Term Recovery Plan

The COVID-19 pandemic has touched every aspect of our lives: we have experienced profound loss, trauma and disruptions to our health care system, workplaces, financial circumstances, schools and communities. These effects will not disappear by declaring COVID over.

  • Produce and regularly update a science-based, real-world-informed, transparent plan for how we address the long-term transition from pandemic to endemic Covid in our schools, businesses and public entities. 
  • Monitor and respond to the known and unforeseen consequences of a once-a-century health crisis.
  • Ensure that treatment is accessible and affordable for the thousands of families with loved ones in nursing homes or otherwise in treatment for Long Covid. 
  • Work with the state’s attorney general to ensure federal anti-discrimination laws are enforced in cases when Long Covid becomes a disability.
  • Strengthen our state’s public health infrastructure to better prepare for and respond to future communicable disease outbreaks.
Policy / Health Care /
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