The Watcher
  News from Georgia Watch
July 2017
Please Join Us: 15th Anniversary Celebration October 10*
Please plan to join Georgia Watch for our  Annual Consumer Champion Awards and  15th Anniversary Celebration on October 10, 2017 at the home of Governor and Mrs. Roy E. Barnes.
Sponsorship opportunities are available Contact Liz Coyle at 404-525-1085 or lcoyle@georgiawatch.org for more information.

*This is a date change.
Yesterday's Votes in Congress Result in Potential Setbacks for Consumers

Yesterday, both chambers of Congress disregarded the best interests of consumers in votes on financial protections and healthcare.  In a move that put Wall Street interests ahead of consumer needs, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve a resolution under the Congressional Review Act that would repeal a new rule just issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on July 10 to restrict banks and lenders’ use of forced arbitration -- fine-print clauses in contracts for credit cards, bank accounts, and other financial products that prevent people from banding together to hold banks and lenders accountable in class action lawsuits when they break the law.


"We are disappointed that the U.S. House sided with big banks over consumers, veterans and military servicemembers who are prevented from having their day in court as a result of forced arbitration and class action bans in fine-print contracts for financial services and loan products," said Liz Coyle, Executive Director of Georgia Watch.  The House resolution passed despite broad public support for the CFPB rule from over three hundred consumer, labor, civil rights, and community groups, as well as the Military Coalition, representing 5.5 million members of the uniformed services. Georgia Watch thanks the members of the Georgia delegation that voted against this resolution: Rep. David Scott (D-13th), Rep. John Lewis (D-5th), Rep. Hank Johnson (D-4th), Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-2nd).  The resolution must now go to the U.S. Senate for a vote.


Also yesterday in the U.S. Senate, Georgia Senators Johnny Isakson (R) and David Perdue (R) voted "yes" on a Motion to Proceed with debate on legislation that would repeal the Affordable Care Act in full or in part despite the fact that millions could lose their coverage.  There is still time to persuade Senators Isakson and Perdue to vote against any bill that:

  • results in coverage losses for thousands of Georgians;
  • cuts and caps Georgia's Medicaid program;
  • guts protections for people with pre-existing conditions; or
  • makes health coverage less affordable for low- and middle-income Georgians.

Senators Isakson and Perdue need to hear from you NOW because ALL of the healthcare bills currently being considered by Congress would be harmful to Georgians. Call Sen. Isakson today at 202-224-3643 or 770-661-0999.  Call Sen. Perdue today at 202-224-3521 or 404-865-0087.

New Capacity-Building Funding from Healthcare Georgia Foundation
Georgia Watch is honored to be among the first grantees in a new grant program from Healthcare Georgia Foundation designed to support a distinguished cohort of nonprofits as they strengthen their internal organizational capacity to achieve better outcomes for the communities they serve.  After a rigorous organizational assessment and a competitive application process, Georgia Watch was selected to be part of the Cohort One Grantees of the EmpowerHealth Grant Program.  With this funding, we are embarking on an 18-month process of strategic planning and development that will grow the capacity of our organization.  We are very grateful to Healthcare Georgia Foundation for this opportunity.  

You can find out more here.
Educating Georgians about Medical Bills and Debt

From surprise medical bills to high deductibles, healthcare costs have risen and Georgians are having difficulty paying their medical bills. To help struggling Georgians, Georgia Watch created the Georgia Consumer Guide for Medical Bills and Debt, which provides information and resources to empower consumers to manage and minimize their medical debt. Specifically, the guide answers some of the most common - yet complex - healthcare and health insurance questions including:

  • Insurance coverage and appeals
  • Explanation of benefits statements (EOBs)
  • Bill payment options and debt collection

Georgia Watch has had great success distributing the guide and engaging consumers and advocates around the state over the past six months. We distributed over 1,700 printed copies of the guide and at least 1,100 electronic copies. We engaged 40 partner organizations throughout around metro Atlanta and conducted 12 workshops to date, including a webinar for the staff of the Centers for Disease Control.  Altogether, we have educated over 2,500 Georgians so far, through the guide and workshops.


We will continue conducting medical debt workshops over the next year.  Please contact bhaynes@georgiawatch.org if you would like to set up a workshop at your location or in your community.


Read more on our blog.

Energy Equity Forum in Camilla
Georgia Watch and Energy Efficiency for All partners are hosting an Energy Equity Forum in Camilla, Georgia on October 7th at the Southwest Georgia Regional Commission. The forum will bring together community members, utility and community leaders, advocates and policymakers to discuss how to reduce energy bills and make solar and energy efficiency more accessible to southwest Georgians.

Learn more here...
In the News
Georgia Watch
55 Marietta Street NW
Atlanta, Georgia 30303