What’s New in Georgia
Georgia Legislative Update
Now that Crossover Day (the 30th day of the 40 day Session and the day by which a bill must pass at least one chamber to remain viable for the Session) has passed, the 2012 Legislative Session enters its final stretch. The legislative calendar is now set through Day 37. Here is what health advocates are watching:
- HB 1166would restore child-only health insurance policies to Georgia’s individual market. Georgians for a Healthy Future, along with a range of child health advocacy groups, is in strong support of this measure to provide this option for families who need coverage for their kids. The bill passed the House last week and passed through the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee this afternoon. It now heads to the Rules Committee.
- HB 879would allow non-medical staff to be trained to assist students with diabetes in a school setting when a school nurse is not present. The legislation also allows children, who are able, to manage their own diabetes. This legislation passed the Georgia House of Representatives and will be before the Senate Health and Human Services committee tomorrow.
- SB 471authorizes an alternative approval process for health insurance policies sold in Georgia and could place hard-fought consumer protections at risk. This bill passed the Senate last week and we will monitor it on the House side.
Several bills that consumer health advocates were supporting did not make the Crossover Day cut:
- HB 1159, sponsored by Representative Pruett, would have created a Joint Study Commission on Education for Parents with Newborn Children to determine how best to gather information, raise funds and create a comprehensive informational video. The video would include but not be limited to information on the prevention of childhood obesity; how to prevent SIDS, shaken baby syndrome, and other forms of child abuse; how to prevent death and injury and additional information which would assist parents to raise safe and healthy children. HB 1159 passed through the House Health and Human Services Committee but did not make it out of the Rules Committee.
- SB 484would help fight childhood obesity by encouraging – but not requiring – schools to open up and share their safe places for kids to play with responsible groups in their communities like churches, scouting troops, YMCAs and others. SB 484 passed the Senate Health and Human Services Committee but did not make it out of the Rules Committee.
- HB 801and SB 418were introduced by Representative Gardner and Senator Orrock, respectively, as companion bills to establish a health insurance exchange in Georgia. Neither bill received a hearing.
Redesigning Medicaid and PeachCare
In the on-going efforts to redesign Georgia’s Medicaid and PeachCare programs, the Department of Community Health (DCH) has been convening three taskforces to gather feedback from consumer advocates, providers and other stakeholders on the current state of these programs, areas to be improved and gaps and other barriers. For those not appointed to these task forces, there is still an opportunity to reach out to DCH to
share your opinion on the redesign process. Send an email to MyOpinion@dch.ga.gov and let DCH what you care about when it comes to covering our most vulnerable populations.
To help advocates across the state get involved in the redesign conversation, GHF and Voices for Georgia’s Children have created these fact sheets focused on Access, Coverage and Quality. Click here to download them now.
If you or your organization would like to learn more about the redesign process and would like to request a presentation, email Amanda Ptashkin. To learn more about our efforts, visit www.healthyfuturega.org/
Bump It Up a Buck: Kick Butts Day 3/21/12
On March 21st, national Kick Butts Day, the Bump It Up a Buck Coalition will gather at the Capitol to highlight the dangers of teen smoking as well as encourage the legislature to raise the tobacco tax rate–currently among the lowest in the nation. Experts say a dollar increase in the tax would reduce smoking levels in the state, improve the health of all Georgians, conservatively generate more than $340 million in new tax revenue for the state each year, as well as deter youth smoking. According to a recently released report from the Surgeon General, nearly one in four high school seniors and one in three young adults under age 26 smoke and the use of smokeless tobacco is on the rise. To read that full report, click here.
The event will be held on Wednesday, March 21, 2012, and will include a rally on the steps of the Capitol and online activities as well. Georgia currently has the 48th lowest per pack tax in the nation at only 37 cents (national average: $1.46). You can show your support for the initiative by joining the hundreds who Like the idea at http://www.facebook.com/BumpItUpaBuck.
Update on Health Insurance Exchanges
While Georgia policymakers have adopted a “wait and see” approach on developing a health insurance exchange, or marketplace, progress continues at the national level and in many other states across the country. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released its long-awaited final rule on health insurance exchanges. Information about the rule is available here. Separately, the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) released a report spotlighting key issues for building a consumer-oriented health insurance exchange. NASHP interviewed policymakers and advocates from several states, including Georgia, for the report. It is available here. For Georgians for a Healthy Future’s policy brief on a state-based health insurance exchange, click here.
Update on Health Insurance Model Rules and Regulations from the NAIC Spring Meeting
Georgians for a Healthy Future’s Executive Director, Cindy Zeldin, participated in the Spring Meeting of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) as a consumer representative—one of 28 chosen from across the country. The NAIC is currently developing model rules to implement a number of features of the Affordable Care Act that will impact health care consumers across the country and here in Georgia. The group of consumer representatives presented to the NAIC’s Consumer Liaison Committee at the Spring meeting last week in New Orleans. The materials presented by the consumer representatives are available here. We will keep you updated on issues of importance to Georgia health care consumers as they arise.