The 2012 Legislative Session came to a close on March 29th with mixed results for health advocates.
The good news: Our top legislative priority, restoring child-only plans to the individual health insurance market (HB 1166 sponsored by Representative Atwood), was successfully passed by both the House (by a vote of 161-1) and Senate (by a vote of 42-2). This legislation requires insurance companies who sell policies in the individual health insurance market to also sell child-only plans during an open enrollment period. These plans had previously been available in Georgia, but insurance companies stopped writing new policies in response to a change in federal law that prohibited discrimination against children due to pre-existing conditions. HB 1166 drew widespread support and Georgians for a Healthy Future was proud to be a part of the coalition effort that ensured its passage.
The bad news: Georgia did not pass health insurance exchange legislation in 2012. While HB 801 and SB 418 were introduced by Representative Gardner and Senator Orrock, respectively, as companion bills to establish a health insurance exchange in Georgia, neither bill received a hearing. All information from the Governor’s Health Insurance Exchange Advisory Committee, which met throughout the second half of 2011 to develop recommendations on this issue and ultimately did not recommend establishing an exchange in 2012, is available here. Georgians for a Healthy Future had been strongly supportive of the exchange concept for Georgia (see our issue brief on this issue here); however, failure to pass legislation in 2012 means that Georgia will not be able to demonstrate readiness for an exchange on the timeline currently outlined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Georgia consumers will likely have access to a federal exchange beginning in 2014; Georgians for a Healthy Future will continue to monitor exchange developments at the federal and state level.
The rest: Georgians for a Healthy Future works collaboratively with a range of consumer and patient advocacy groups to advance policy priorities around health care coverage, access, quality, and affordability. Several organizations with whom we frequently partner have released excellent legislative summaries featuring health care issues. Here is a sampling:
- Voices for Georgia’s Children reports on legislation that impacted children here.
- The American Cancer Society gives us the lowdown on legislation that impacts access to care through the cancer lens here.
- The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities explains legislation that impacts Georgians with developmental disabilities here.
- Georgia Women for a Change fills us in on legislation that impacts women and girls in Georgia here.
- The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute provides its recap here.