Survey Reveals Most Georgians Unaware of Potential Medicaid Changes
| FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Informed Georgians Will Be Key to Health Care Debate, Says Healthcare
Says Healthcare Georgia Foundation
Atlanta, Georgia – January 10, 2006 – Georgia is considering changes to the state’s Medicaid program that may have significant effects on the availability of affordable, quality health care for low income Georgians. While specific changes have not been determined to date, a survey conducted by the Survey Research Center of the University of Georgia on behalf of Healthcare Georgia Foundation revealed that 90 percent of Georgians are unaware that changes may be on the horizon.
“The Medicaid program provides access to health care services for Georgia’s most vulnerable residents,” says Dr. Gary Nelson, president of Healthcare Georgia Foundation. “With more than 1 million recipients, any change in this program affects the entire health care system, making it important for all Georgians to know what’s being proposed and what it means to them and our communities.”
To gauge public perception of the Medicaid program, Healthcare Georgia Foundation commissioned a survey of 800 registered Georgia voters in December 2005. Key findings showed that more than 80 percent of respondents were opposed to Georgia cutting back the Medicaid program to balance the budget. Nearly 85 percent of respondents agreed that it is risky to make major changes to Medicaid because it is a lifeline for vulnerable people who have no other way to get basic health care coverage. The results also suggest that 60 percent of respondents would consider putting spending limits on the program.
In considering potential changes, nearly two-thirds (61.3%) of respondents opposed increasing cost-sharing through higher health insurance premiums for members of the Medicaid program. Respondents were nearly evenly split on increasing out-of-pocket co-payments paid by Medicaid members when accessing care services (46.8% in favor of increasing co-payments; 53.2% against). These data suggest that almost two-thirds of Georgians favor affordable access to coverage; however, public views are less definitive on the merits of increasing co-payments.
“Looking at the survey data, we should be alarmed that Georgians are unaware of the major changes to Medicaid being considered and the costs and benefits of them. As Georgia policymakers consider major changes in Medicaid, it is critical for consumers, health care providers and community leaders to engage in an open and informed dialogue on the options being considered,” says Dr. Nelson. “We need to be well informed because the decisions we make about the health of any one of us will affect the health of all Georgians.”
More information about Medicaid waivers and key questions Georgians should be asking can be found in Healthcare Georgia Foundation’s Winter 2005 edition of HealthVoices. Entitled “Georgia’s Medicaid Program: A Briefing for Community Leaders,” the publication is available on the Foundation’s Web site at www.healthcaregeorgia.org.
The questionnaire and tabulations of the 2005 Georgia Medicaid Survey, conducted by the Survey Research Center of the University of Georgia, can be found at www.src.uga.edu.
About Healthcare Georgia Foundation
Healthcare Georgia Foundation is a statewide, private independent foundation. The Foundation’s mission is to advance the health of all Georgians and to expand access to affordable, quality healthcare for underserved individuals and communities. Through its strategic grantmaking, Healthcare Georgia Foundation supports organizations that drive positive change, promotes programs that improve health and healthcare among underserved individuals and communities, and connects people, partners and resources across Georgia. For more information, please visit the Foundation online at: www.healthcaregeorgia.org.
About the Survey Research Center of the University of Georgia
The Survey Research Center at the University of Georgia serves the research, teaching, and service needs of the University and of the larger community. The Center executes surveys for University faculty and students, public agencies, private foundations and other interested groups; conducts training and instruction in survey methods; and provides consultation and assistance with survey research and analysis.