Today, the Georgia Center for Opportunity (GCO) has released two new reports detailing precisely how the Georgia governor and lawmakers should enact federal healthcare waivers that will reform a healthcare system disproportionately impacting the poor.

In What Does an Ideal Solution to the Health Insurance Crisis Look Like? Principles for Policymakers When Crafting a Federal Waiver Application, GCO scholar Erik Randolph describes the ways that Georgia lawmakers can craft a healthcare system that works for everyone, particularly the most vulnerable. And in What Census Microdata Tells Us About Health Insurance Coverage in Georgia, Randolph delves into some lesser known facts about the healthcare system in Georgia in order to better help lawmakers craft a system that helps those in poverty and boosts economic mobility.

Randy Hicks, GCO’s President and CEO, said the new reports come at a crucial time for healthcare reform in Georgia. “Due to a federal waiver application process approved by the Trump Administration, Georgia has a narrow window of opportunity to innovate at the local level to solve the healthcare crisis,” Hicks said. “More than 13 percent of Georgians still lack health insurance, and the cost of insurance in the individual markets have more than doubled since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act. We need a real solution to this crisis. This report lays the groundwork.”

The reports recommend the creation of a consumer-directed market system coupled with a reformed safety-net program. Key recommendations include:

  • Freedom and portability:Just like with other insurances, consumers want the leeway to shop for health insurance on their own terms and to not lose their plan when leaving a job. This solution drives down costs and keeps affordable health coverage long after they leave employment.
  • Affordability: There is a simple reason why 13.3 percent of Georgians lack any health insurance: affordability. As demonstrated by systems in Switzerland and the Netherlands, the solution is to achieve universal coverage. GCO’s healthcare proposals will create a market-driven program with safety-net subsidies, leading to universal coverage. Pricing will be transparent and consumers will easily shop for the best values.
  • A unified system: The current healthcare system is a fragmented hodgepodge of programs—Medicaid, PeachCare, Medicare, TriCare, VA services, and government-run exchanges. Contrary to this confusing system, GCO reforms would create a single program with government subsidies for low-income families that eliminate welfare cliffs and marriage penalties.
  • The safety net: The system still provides a vital safety net for those who aren’t able to afford health insurance on their own. Subsidies are provided through the Georgia Gateway to help low-income families pay their premiums.