Georgia Watch logo  


News from Georgia Watch 

 Save the Date!

Please mark your calendars. We are having our Annual Gala and Consumer Champion Celebration on September 18, 6-8PM.


Details to follow soon.            

In This Issue
Annual Gala
Consumer win
Healthcare Enrollment
Holding hospitals accountable
Quick Links
Join Our List
Join Our Mailing List
May 20, 2014

A victory for consumers

Georgia Watch is proud to be the recipient of nearly $33,000 in Cy Pres funds -- those funds remaining unclaimed in the settlement of the Whitehead v. JI Financial, LLC case -- as ordered by the Honorable Robert Reeves, Toombs County Superior Court Judge.


The Cy Pres award results from a class action lawsuit against an unscrupulous debt settlement company that was successfully prosecuted by our board member Jimmy Hurt of Hurt Stolz. Mr. Hurt presented the award to Georgia Watch Acting Executive Director Liz Coyle on May 13.


Georgia Watch provides financial literacy education to consumers and advocates against predatory practices, including by companies offering to "settle" debt for the financially distressed at high fees. Financial literacy workshops are provided regularly by Georgia Watch Director of Community Education Karla Johnson in a variety of locations.  To schedule a workshop for your group or to learn about future workshops, please contact Karla  at 404-525-1085 or


We are proud that the judge and Mr. Hurt chose to support this work through the award!    

Affordable Care Act Open Enrollment is over...Now what?

Although the March 31st deadline to enroll in healthcare through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplace has passed, consumers may still be eligible to enroll in healthcare through what is known as a Special Enrollment Period. "Qualifying life events" that can trigger a Special Enrollment Period include moving to a new state or certain changes to your income or in your family size (including marriage, divorce or having a child). Other circumstances that may give rise to a Special Enrollment Period include: a serious medical condition that kept you from enrolling sooner; the insurance company's inability to process your enrollment due to technical errors between the Marketplace and the insurance company, and errors on, including incorrect benefit or cost-sharing plan data that were displayed at the time you made your plan selection.


During open enrollment, Georgia Watch provided navigator services to consumers who needed help enrolling in the ACA through the Marketplace. Now that open enrollment is over, Georgia Watch is assisting consumers who are eligible for a Special Enrollment Period to enroll in health coverage through the Marketplace. In two recent instances, Georgia Watch helped "frustrated and exhausted" consumers complete their enrollment applications and enroll in coverage. "I was ready to give-up on getting healthcare this year," said one consumer whose enrollment information would not transfer properly to the insurance company. Thanks to Georgia Watch's assistance, both consumers have successfully enrolled in coverage and are looking forward to paying their first month's premium.


To learn more about qualifying events that can trigger a Special Enrollment Period, click here. The next Open Enrollment period begins November 15, 2014.  
With grant from Healthcare Georgia Foundation, Georgia Watch is holding hospitals accountable

The Health Access Program at Georgia Watch is currently reviewing the Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNAs) and corresponding implementation plans written by non-profit hospitals across the state. We will analyze the data we collect on identified community needs and hospitals' strategies to address those needs in order to make sure that CHNAs have a real impact in their communities.


Traditionally, non-profit hospitals have been exempt from paying federal, state, and local taxes. The historic rationale for these tax-exemptions is the assumption that non-profit hospitals contribute to society by providing certain health benefits to their communities, such as financial assistance to indigent patients, health screenings, and community education campaigns-all of which are collectively known as Community Benefits. Most states now go beyond this mere assumption and specifically require certain community benefits in exchange for a hospital's tax exempt status; however, not all states have such a requirement. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 contains important provisions related to non-profit hospitals and community benefits. Specifically, the ACA requires non-profit hospitals to conduct a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) every three years, with input from community organizations, and develop an implementation plan for addressing identified health needs in the community served by the hospital. These assessments can be an important tool in hospitals' efforts to expand access to affordable, quality care in their communities. However, lacking any requirement that hospitals take action on the CHNA, there is a danger that these assessments and their implementation plans may do nothing more than satisfy a new federal requirement while actually benefiting no one.


This is an extension of the work started in 2007 by our Hospital Accountability Project, which analyzed issues of healthcare affordability, socioeconomic barriers to quality care, and evaluation of the indigent and charity care policies at area for-profit and non-profit hospitals. Through our current research and reporting, we will hold non-profit hospitals accountable for finding ways, either independently or with their community partners, to expand access to healthcare services in a manner that is accessible, affordable, and of the highest quality.


The project is funded by a grant from Healthcare Georgia Foundation (Foundation). Created in 1999 as an independent private 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.


We are grateful for the opportunity to continue this important work with funding from the Foundation!