History of Georgia Health Decisions.
Georgia Health Decisions was founded in 1991 by a group of individuals concerned about the rising cost and lack of access to affordable health services. Members pledged to come together as unbiased individuals, leaving professional and institutional affiliations aside, to form Georgia Health Decisions as a non-profit, non-partisan organization designed strictly to reflect the voices of the people of Georgia regarding health-related issues.
Believing that Georgians’ values should be the basis for shaping our health care system, Georgia Health Decisions undertook a three-year project to identify and understand those values. This multi-faceted initiative, which was funded by contributions from more than 20 Georgia-based charitable foundations and corporations, included the establishment of 13 regional collaboratives to direct the statewide activities of the organization. The regional collaboratives conducted 259 public discussions that engaged 5,620 Georgians in conversations on health care values. To ensure that the opinions of all Georgians were heard, Georgia Health Decisions conducted qualitative research using a psycho-graphic sampling technique to conduct more than 50 focus groups resulting in 3,500 pages of transcript that were then read and analyzed. Citizen panels were used to find the common ground amid the differing attitudes and opinions of Georgians. Results from the community forums and qualitative research were presented in a comprehensive report entitled Georgians Speak Out on Health Care.
In 1994, Georgia Health Decisions helped to facilitate the creation of the Georgia Coalition for Health, a collaborative effort by business, government, health care providers, and the public (represented by GHD) to address health care issues in the state. Central to the work of the Georgia Coalition for Health was the formation of the Georgia Health Policy Center to provide credible, non-biased information to the deliberations of the Coalition. During the next three years Georgia Health Decisions supported the work of the coalition by utilizing its integrated approach of structured research and open public discussion. Georgians’ Views on Health Care Services provided insights into the health care services that Georgians thought should be covered in a standard insurance benefits package. Georgians’ Views on Medicaid reported their attitudes and opinions about who and what should be covered by the state’s Medicaid program.
When the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation began their focus on end-of-life care in 1996, they awarded a grant to American Health Decisions to identify Americans’ attitudes, opinions and values about death and dying. Georgia Health Decisions undertook this project on behalf of American Health Decisions. The project encompassed 36 focus groups conducted across the country, resulting in the report entitled The Quest to Die with Dignity. Seeking to understand how to improve the end-of-life experiences for Georgians, GHD conducted focus groups with family members of loved ones who had died in 11 hospitals. The resulting report, A Silent Anguish, presented unique insights into the difficulties faced by patients and families during the last months of life. Based on the insights from these studies, Georgia Health Decisions developed and implemented the CRITICAL Conditions program to help Georgians plan for their end-of-life care.
Between 2002 and 2006, Georgia Health Decisions worked with the Georgia Health Policy Center on a major research initiative on health coverage for the uninsured in Georgia. Funded by a grant from the federal Health Services and Resources Administration to the State of Georgia, this project sought both to document the extent of the problem and to explore options for providing coverage.
Since 2016, Georgia Health Decisions has been partnering with the Georgia Health Care Foundation in supporting the eleven rural communities funded by their The Two Georgias Initiative.