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Legislative update: week 2

Consumer transparency bill introduced in the House

Rep. Richard Smith, Chair of the House Insurance Committee, introduced HB 678, legislation that requires health care providers and hospitals to provide consumers with information about their participation in a patient’s insurance network. The bill requires that a physician tell a patient if they are an in-network provider, and, if asked by the patient, provide an estimate of the total costs for their services. The legislation applies only to non-emergency care. While this bill is a first step towards addressing surprise out-of-network medical billing, we believe that, as written, it does not do enough to protect consumers. We recognize Rep. Smith’s commitment to shielding consumers from surprise medical bills, and we hope that this bill will prompt a robust conversation about solutions that address both network adequacy and surprise medical bills.


Join us for Cover Georgia Day!

Please join us at the state Capitol on Thursday, February 15 from 8:30 to 11:45 am for Cover Georgia Day! We will be asking our state legislators to put insurance cards in the pockets of low-income Georgians who cannot get affordable health coverage under current law. This is your opportunity to speak to your elected officials and let them know that you support closing Georgia’s coverage gap. RSVP here!

Can’t make it? Send an email to your state legislators to tell them to close Georgia’s coverage gap.

 

 


 Budget hearings continue at the Capitol

Last week, the General Assembly heard from Commissioners and other leaders regarding their budget requests for Fiscal Year 2019 (July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019). While the Governor’s proposed budget is mostly status quo, there are a few items of interest for health advocates:

  • The Department of Community Health has requested a 4% increase (for a total of $236 million) in funds for Medicaid to keep up with the population growth of Medicaid-eligible Georgians.
  • The Department of Public Health (DPH) has requested $627,000 to support the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), which was moved from the Georgia Drug & Narcotics Agency to DPH per 2017 legislation.
  • DPH has also requested $355,000 to support a new Office of Cardiac Care.
  • The Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities has requested a budget increase of $50 million. (See last week’s update for more details about DBHDD’s budget increase.)

Children’s Health Insurance Program finally funded

Federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (known as PeachCare for Kids in Georgia) expired at the end of September last year and remained unfunded for 114 days until yesterday evening when Congress passed a six-year extension for the program. PeachCare for Kids covers more than 130,000 Georgia children and, in combination with Medicaid, has been critical in driving our children’s uninsured rate down to 6.7%. The funding authorized by Congress will allow this critical health insurance program to continue to serve Georgia’s children for several more years. The future of funding for community health centers and Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments is still unclear.


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