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Legislative Update January 25, 2016

The second week of the Legislative Session was primarily focused on the budget. Check out the updates below on provider directories, closing the coverage gap, and other issues that are important to Georgia health care consumers.


Please join GHF and Georgia Watch on Tuesday, February 2 for a breakfast policy discussion Getting What You Pay For: Consumer Protections for Network Adequacy, Surprise Medical Bills, and Provider Directories, for more information, click here.


The event is free, but we ask that you RSVP to that we may have an accurate head count.



Improving Provider Directories
Improving provider directories continues to be an issue of interest in both the House and Senate and on both sides of aisle.  We hope to see a bill within the coming weeks.  As soon as we have a bill number, we’ll pass the information along to you. Be on the lookout for an action alert soon!


Surprise Out-of-Network Billing
In both the House and Senate we are hearing strong interest in addressing surprise out-of-network billing. It is probable that we will soon see a bill that addresses this issue and we will keep you updated with any such developments.


Closing Georgia’s Coverage Gap
While we do not have a bill number, House Democrats have announced that they will be proposing a bill to close Georgia’s coverage gap. You can read about that here.
Action Alert: Governor Deal and the legislature need to hear from you that closing the coverage gap is good for Georgia’s citizens and economy. Add your name to a petition of close Georgia’s coverage gap (and then forward it to a friend!).


Governor Deal Proposes a Budget
Governor Deal has released his budget proposal for the 2016 legislative session. This budget will take effect in July 2016 and run through the end of June 2017. We are just beginning to parse through the budget but we have already identified two items to watch:
  • In the FY 2016 budget, the legislature included $23 million for partialMedicaid payment parity, with the understanding that full parity may be achievable over the next several budget years. The Governor’s budget maintains last year’s partial parity, but does not add any more funding. We will encourage the legislature to increase the funding for payment parity as they make their budget changes. Need a refresher on what parity has to do with access to care? Check out this blog post.
  • Under the proposed budget, monthly insurance premiums for non-certified public school personnel (like bus drivers, cafeteria workers, etc.) will increase in January 2017. You can read more about these changes here.
If you want more information about the budget and its implications for consumers, check out the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute’s FY 2017 budget report.


Network Adequacy
Georgians for a Healthy Future supports updating Georgia’s network adequacy standards to ensure that consumers can access an in-network provider for all covered benefits in their plan. This past fall, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners updated its model act on network adequacy. Shortly thereafter, Georgia’s Consumer and Provider Protection Act Study Committee recommended a multi-stakeholder review of the model act to determine how Georgia should proceed on this important issue. While there hasn’t been any movement on network adequacy yet this legislative session, it’s an issue we’re closely watching. You can check out the network adequacy page on our website for background materials, videos, and news articles on network adequacy.


This week we’re highlighting in our Consumer Health Advocacy Today a conversation with Rep. Lee Hawkins who is concerned about health literacy in Georgia. We agree with him that many Georgians lack the information they need to make informed decisions about their health insurance. Check out his video below. If you want to learn more about health literacy, check out this blog entry.

GHF is monitoring legislative activity that could impact Georgia consumers. We are tracking bills as they move through the legislative process. Stay updated with our legislative tracker here.

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