By Timothy Sweeney
Senior Healthcare Analyst, GBPI
As we approach the final seven legislative days for 2010, there’s still a great deal of uncertainty surrounding both the schedule the General Assembly will set for themselves, as well as with the policy-related results of the session.
Still the most important task before the House and Senate – really the only thing the Legislature HAS to accomplish during the session – is the FY 2011 budget. Currently, House appropriations subcommittees are scheduled for April 12, which means we could see subcommittee budget recommendations next week and passage of the FY 2011 budget by the House later in the week.
Passage of the budget from the House could be contingent on the Senate adopting two revenue raising bills that are built into the FY 2011 revenue estimate – HB 307 generates approximately $169 million (net) in needed funding for Medicaid with a temporary provider fee on hospital net patient revenue, while HB 1055 raises numerous state fees to generate nearly $100 million for FY 2011.
House Bill 307 was passed by the Senate prior to the week long legislative break; however House Speaker Ralston has stated that amendments added to bill on the Senate Floor would be ruled non-germane and that the bill would be sent back to the Senate when the session resumes on April 12. The fee bill (HB 1055) is still in the Senate Finance Committee. Without these bills, the budget the House is putting together would need to be re-worked, and either delayed passage or non-passage by the Senate could push an already long session out even further.
Several other health-related bills remain active in one chamber or the other. On the 30th day, both chambers passed different versions of a common proposal to allow health insurance companies in GA to sell products that are primarily licensed in other states. The Senate version (SB 407) included language intended to require these policies to adhere to Georgia insurance laws mandating coverage of certain benefits and services, while the legislation passed by the House (HB 1184) would allow these policies to leave off these important requirements.
All in all, the last seven days of the session could move very quickly, as once the budget is put to bed, lawmakers will be eager to finalize other issues and return to their districts. Or, continued negotiation surrounding the budget itself and the revenue measures already passed by the House could delay the session, and could even force the General Assembly to take another week-long break to resolve differences between the two chambers…
For more detail on the proposals discussed above and on the FY 2011 budget in general, visit the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute website, where you can find fact sheets and reports on the issues above, or go here to see a presentation from GBPI Deputy Director Sarah Beth Gehl on the FY 2011 budget and revenue situation.
Until later, stay tuned to what should be an eventful month of April…