Statewide Insurance Crisis

By Ben Wolf
Thursday, January 4, 2006

More than a quarter of a million children in Georgia face losing government funded health insurance by May. One mother of four has been using PeachCare for the past three years.

"My oldest son hurt his ankle and we had to come out here to youth care to be seen. I didn't have to worry about paying any doctors fees, hospital fees," she said.

The federal and state funded PeachCare program is designed for families in the working poor population who make too much to qualify for traditional Medicaid but too little to afford their employer's insurance.

The program, however, faces a $130 million shortfall in funding.

"I would have to try to get them on my insurance, which will be a whole lot more," added the woman who uses PeachCare.

According to financial experts, many can't afford that option.

"Unfortunately, if they lose coverage, a lot of these children will not receive the primary care services that they need from their pediatricians and other local primary care providers," said South Georgia Medical Center patient financial services director Jeff Sherman.

Sherman says getting federal dollars from a new Congress rather than the state is the best option.

"It's going to be very difficult for the state to make up that shortfall due to the constitutional provision that prohibits them from transferring any funds from other state programs."

Hundreds of thousands of kids will lose their coverage in less than four months unless this problem is solved.

Nearly 3,000 children are covered by PeachCare in Lowndes County.