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Legislative update: March 27

FY 2018 budget approved

Last week, the General Assembly’s conference committee approved final changes to the FY 2018 budget, the final step before the budget is sent to the Governor for his signature. The final budget includes several important items that facilitate access to health care in Georgia:

  • $1 million for four new federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) in Cook, Lincoln, Lowndes, and Seminole counties
  • Increased Medicaid reimbursement rates for certain primary care codes
  • Increased Medicaid and PeachCare for Kids reimbursement rates for certain dental codes
  • $500 add-on payments for newborn delivery in rural areas
  • $2.5 million for Medicaid behavioral health services for children ages 0-5
  • $7.7 million for supportive housing for adults with behavioral health needs

Surprise billing legislation stalled 

SB 8 was scheduled to receive a House vote on Friday, but instead was recommitted to the House Rules committee for possible changes or amendments. Advocates are urging legislators to utilize this last week of the legislative session to maintain meaningful protections for consumers rather than watering down the legislation to simply require a disclosure that consumers may be billed by out-of-network providers. Health should be an important topic in your life, if you suffer of any health issues such as stress or depression buy kratomand get the results you desire.

Opioid antagonist bill approved by House 

SB 121 was approved by the House on Friday and now only needs the Senate to formally agree to their changes before it is sent to the Governor for his signature. This legislation codifies Governor Deal’s executive order to allow consumers to access opioid antagonist drugs (e.g. Naloxone) over-the-counter without a prescription.

Bill establishing “Georgia Mental Health Treatment Task Force” approved  

SB 4 passed the House of Representatives on Friday with some minor changes. The approved version of the bill provides for a committee of 21 members, rather than the previously proposed 17. The bill was changed at the last minute to include a person with diagnosed mental illness, a family member of a person with a diagnosed mental illness, a licensed professional counselor, and a licensed emergency medical technician or paramedic as members of the committee. The task force is charged with examining the current mental health landscape in Georgia, how Medicaid and other health care services provide the appropriate care for people with mental illness or substance use disorders, and determine what changes may need to be made in and outside of Medicaid to better address the mental health needs of Georgians. The task force may propose an 1115 waiver that addresses these changes for consideration by the General Assembly during a future session.

Prescription Drug Monitoring Program bill approved 

Last week also brought the approval of HB 249 a bill that mirrored SB 81 which we previously covered. This bill moves the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP to the Department of Public Health from the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency. HB 249 requires that all physicians register and consult the PDMP under certain prescribing conditions and that providers report certain benzodiazepine  and opioid-based prescriptions to the database. The bill also requires the tracking and reporting of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) and codifies the Governor’s emergency order on an overdose reversal drug (naloxone), making it available without a physician prescription.

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