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Legislative update

georgia-capital-buildingThe Legislature has completed eight days of the 40-day session and will convene Monday through Wednesday next week. There will also be several committee hearings next week, including:     1) Senate Appropriations Community Health subcommittee meeting Tuesday at 3 PM in CLOB 307.  The agenda for this hearing will feature testimony about the importance of maintaining Medicaid parity for primary care providers in Georgia. 2) Senate Health and Human Services committee meeting on Tuesday at 1 PM in CAP 450 (Agenda to be announced). 3) House Health and Human Services committee meeting on Monday at 3 PM in CLOB 606 to discuss HB 47. Committee meetings are open to the public and we encourage health-focused advocates to attend. Of course, your Georgians for a Healthy Future team is monitoring legislative developments and advocating for our priority issues throughout the legislative session and we will keep you informed about key opportunities for advocacy as they emerge.

Below is a status report on the issues Georgians for a Healthy Future is supporting this year.

Closing Georgia’s Coverage Gap: There has not yet been any legislative activity in this area, as the General Assembly has been focused on addressing the transportation funding issue.  Georgians for a Healthy Future supports holding hearings on the need to close Georgia’s coverage gap as a first step to achieving this legislative priority. Please contact your Representative and Senator and tell them you support holding hearings on Medicaid expansion this year.

Increasing Georgia’s Tobacco Tax: There has been early momentum around increasing Georgia’s tobacco tax, and a bill has been drafted to increase the state excise tax on cigarettes. The bill also includes a comparable increase on other tobacco products. This bill is awaiting a fiscal note from the state, which we expect to be completed by the first week in February.  Georgians for a  Healthy Future is proud to be part of a coalition of health organizations working on this important issue—please stay tuned for updates on this issue once the fiscal note is in!

Medicaid Payment Parity:  Georgians for a Healthy Future supports maintaining payment parity for primary care providers (see this week’s Medicaid Minute for an explanation of how this improves access to care for Georgia patients) by restoring the temporary reimbursement rate hike that expired at the end of 2014.  Senator Renee Unterman has proposed a $60 million appropriation for this, and Medicaid payment parity will be a topic of conversation at next week’s Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing (on Tuesday at 3pm).  This hearing presents an opportunity to weigh in with your state legislators to let them know you support the payment bump and to ask them to include it in the FY 2016 Budget.

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