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November 19, 2014

Expand Medicaid to save rural hospitals

Earlier this year, Governor Nathan Deal appointed a Rural Hospital Stabilization Committee to identify "the needs of the rural hospital community and provide potential solutions." Eight rural hospitals in Georgia have closed since 2001, four of them since the start of 2013. Georgia Watch, Georgians for a Healthy Future, and Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, along with 10 other organizations, recently submitted a report to this Committee detailing how expanding Georgia's Medicaid program could be the solution that saves rural hospitals in financial distress.


Georgia stands to gain a federal infusion of $31 billion if the state contributes the estimated $2.1 billion over the next ten years to implement Medicaid expansion and close the coverage gap.  With projected state savings and increased tax revenues this federal money would bring, the net investment on the state's part will be far less.  This new federal money would help create more than 56,000 jobs statewide and generate more than $6.5 billion in new economic activity every year. More than 60 percent of the new jobs and economic activity would occur outside the 10-county metro-Atlanta region, while more than 20 percent could occur in Georgia's rural communities.


At Georgia Watch, we believe that our state cannot afford to not expand Medicaid. We hope that our report will provide the Committee with the information that they need to recommend Medicaid expansion to state policymakers as a solution for Georgia's failing rural hospitals. The full report is available here

Win for Georgia consumers!             

On November 17, the Supreme Court delivered a big win for Georgia consumers affected by misrepresentations made by used car dealers in Raysoni v. Payless Auto Deals, a case for which Georgia Watch joined Atlanta Legal Aid and other consumer advocates in filing an Amicus Brief in favor of the plaintiff. In this case, Mr. Raysoni claims that he relied upon oral and written misrepresentations from a car dealer that a used minivan he was purchasing had never been in a wreck. Two months after purchasing the van, Raysoni learned that the van had, in fact, been in a wreck and had substantial frame damage which significantly decreased the car's value.


The Supreme Court sent the case back to jury to determine if it was reasonable for Raysoni to rely upon representations that the minivan was undamaged and never had been in a wreck - particularly those representations made in the inaccurate Carfax report. This is a significant improvement over the Court of Appeals' decision that Payless' contractual provisions completely protected it from judgment. While underscoring the importance of making informed purchases and seeking neutral opinions, Raysoni will nevertheless make it more difficult for dealers to hide behind fine print when selling damaged cars. It is our hope that the jury will find that Mr. Raysoni's reliance upon the verbal and written representations given to him by Payless was reasonable, and that Payless is liable for the financial damage it caused Mr. Raysoni. While we are pleased with this decision, we wish the Court had used this opportunity to clarify and strengthen the Fair Business Practices Act.


Georgia Watch and the National Association of Consumer Advocates also submitted a "friend-of-the-court" brief for consideration by the Supreme Court of Georgia in support of a challenge to the Georgia Court of Appeals' decision in Community & Southern Bank v. DCB Investments, LLC, which concerns a loan contract that waives a Georgia statute requiring judicial confirmation of a foreclosure sale as a precondition to pursuing a deficiency claim, which poses a risk to Georgia consumers by jeopardizing the nearly 80-year-old balance of legal rights and protections between secured lenders and consumers. 
Watch out for scams as open enrollment in affordable healthcare begins      
The Affordable Care Act has increased access to health insurance for millions of individuals, families and small business owners across the country.  Each day, thousands of Americans log on to to find affordable plans that meet their needs.  Unfortunately, marketers, private insurance companies and scam artists have found ways to divert these consumers toward other products that are not regulated by or approved by the Federal Healthcare Marketplace.  We've put together this flyer highlighting a few scams and issues consumers should look out for during open enrollment.
2015 Legislative Breakfast
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Save the Date!


Georgia Watch 2015 Legislative Breakfast


January 14,  8 a.m. at the Freight Depot



For more information or to sponsor the event, contact Liz Coyle at 404-525-1085 or