Bills We’re Watching: HB 214

Back in December, The Public Health Commission issued its final report to the Governor, Speaker, and Lieutenant Governor recommending that the Division of Public Health become an independent, cabinet-level state agency, with the Commissioner reporting directly to the Governor and serving as the state’s chief health officer.  On February 10, 2011, Representative Mickey Channell (R-Greensboro) introduced House Bill 214 that would do just that.  The legislation would take the Department of Public  and Health out of the Department of Community Health and would make it its own stand-alone agency effective July 1, 2011.  The bill has the support and backing of Governor Deal and key Republican Leadership, as well as members of the public health community.


On Wednesday, the legislation won unanimous approval from the House Health and Human Services Committee and now moves on to the Rules Committee before moving on to the House floor.


Click here to read a release from Partner Up! for Public Health Campaign on this legislation.



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PCIP Update

By Cindy Zeldin


The Pre-Existing Condition Plan (PCIP) is a new health insurance option for uninsured Georgians who have been denied insurance because of a pre-existing condition. The PCIP, authorized by the Affordable Care Act, is intended to provide coverage for consumers who are locked out of the insurance market due to a pre-existing condition. To be eligible, applicants to the PCIP must be uninsured for at least six months and have a letter of denial from a private insurer. As of February 1st of this year, 399 Georgians had signed up for coverage through the PCIP. The premiums are subsidized entirely with federal dollars and no state funds are associated with the program. In fact, the Governor’s FY 2012 budget proposal realizes savings of $680,263 from the movement of previously uninsured hemophilia patients who had been accessing life-saving drugs through a state program into the PCIP, where those drugs are now covered. You can download our new fact sheet on the PCIP here.




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Bills We’re Watching: HB 229

HB 229 Tackles Problems of Backlogged and Unfair Medicaid Appeals

 

Both federal and state law grants Medicaid members and applicants the right to a fair hearing when Medicaid services are denied for reasons such as eligibility determination, frequency, or duration or intensity of services.  When a Medicaid member is denied coverage he or she may dispute the denial by filing an appeal and request for a hearing with the Department of Community Health (DCH), the state agency that administers the Medicaid program.  DCH processes the request and forwards it to the Office of State Administrative Hearings (OSAH) for a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ).  The ALJ listens to testimony, reviews the evidence, and reaches an impartial decision.  Federal law requires that when a Medicaid member requests an appeal a final decision must be made within 90 days, absent extenuating circumstances.

 

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General Assembly This Week: Committee Meetings

Several committees in the Georgia General Assembly that are considering health care related legislation are meeting this week. Here is a schedule of what’s on tap. As these are subject to change, check here for updated House committee meeting information and here for updated Senate committee meeting information. If you want to weigh in on any of these bills, the committees often allow public comment.


Monday:
House Appropriations Health Subcommittee
1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
406 CLOB
Agenda:   FY Budget Presentation from the following:
Georgia Composite Medical Board
Georgia Cancer Coalition
Georgia Board for Physician Workforce
State Medical Education Board
Primary Care Workforce Presentation by Denise Kornegay


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Bills We’re Watching: HB 47

By Cindy Zeldin


During the Legislative Session, Georgians for a Healthy Future monitors health care related legislation. One bill that is making its way through the House Insurance Committee, House Bill 47, raises serious concerns for health care consumers. The bill would allow Georgia insurers to sell individual health insurance products with benefit designs equivalent to those sold in other states, essentially doing an end-run around current Georgia law and allowing insurers to offer a separate class of health insurance plans that are exempt from the minimum coverage protections that our policymakers have deemed an appropriate floor for all insurance products sold in the state.

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Rural Health Day at the Capitol

By Matt Caseman
Executive Director, Georgia Rural Health Association


Health care providers and professionals from every corner of the state descended on the state Capitol Wednesday, February 16th for Rural Health Day sponsored by the Georgia Rural Health Association. Activities began at 8:00 am with State Senator George Hooks (D-Americus), the longest serving member in the General Assembly, being presented with the Legislator of the Award from GRHA. With a district that includes twelve rural counties, Senator Hooks has looked out for underserved areas his entire career. He is a former Legislator of the Year for the Georgia Public Health Association, the Medical Association of Georgia, and the Georgia Hospital Association.


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Healthy Augusta Hits the Ground Running

By Amanda McDougald


Healthy Augusta, Inc. was founded as an organization that will inspire and create a social movement through the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA) to improve the overall health of the CSRA by promoting and encouraging healthy habits through awareness, education, and support.  The vision of the founder is to integrate multiple disciplines to focus on applying knowledge gained through research or otherwise for the good of our community.  The idea is that action and awareness regarding healthy habits at a grassroots level should create changes in the way that people understand and integrate these ideas and habits into their daily lives.  In short, people have to intrinsically desire to change their habits, and we would like to be agents of that motivation.


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