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Legislative Update: $$$, this week’s advocacy opportunities & what’s next

Legislative Update: Week 2

General Assembly meets for joint budget hearings 
Photo of Georgia capitol

The Georgia General Assembly met last week for joint budget hearings. During “budget week” both the House and Senate heard from Governor Kemp and agency leaders about their requests for the current and upcoming state budgets. The General Assembly’s budgetary considerations consist of two parts:

1) Changes to the current FY 2021 state budget (sometimes called the “little budget”) which will run through June 30, 2021, and

2)  The FY 2022 general state budget (the “big budget”), which will begin on July 1, 2021.

After the agency presentations, the House will pull together the budget requests into legislation and continue to review funding requests.

Below we highlight some of the primary asks made by the state agencies that most impact consumer health, especially during the current health crisis. For more detailed budget analysis, please see the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute’s Overview of Georgia’s 2022 Fiscal Year Budget.

The General Assembly will reconvene tomorrow, January 26th for the fifth day of legislative session and will schedule future days of session in another resolution. 

State agencies present budget requests to General Assembly

Department of Public Health 
Icon with apple, house, dollar sign, and car. Represents health care in all sectors

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) works to prevent disease, injury and disability; promote health and well-being; and prepare for and respond to disasters from a health perspective. Dr. Toomey, Commissioner of DPH began the agency’s presentation by addressing the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, issues with vaccine rollout, and imploring Georgians to continue to take precautions. 

DPH began FY2021 with reduced funding of $690 million but received over $1 billion in federal funds to support Georgia’s COVID-19 response efforts. DPH’s FY 2020 and FY 2021 budgets include increases in funding ($795,000) for Grady Regional Coordinating Center in order to manage hospital bed capacity.

Department of Community Health 
Medicaid and Peachcare icon

The Department of Community Health (DCH) oversees Medicaid, PeachCare, hospital regulation, and other state health care programs. DCH’s presentation to the budget committees highlighted their COVID-19 response priorities including increased bed capacity, data collection, infection control, and increases in children and family Medicaid coverage. Commissioner Frank Berry also highlighted the expanded use of telehealth to provide services to Medicaid members from a distance.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government has increased funds to states for the Medicaid program; this investment is reflected in DCH’s FY2021 budget with state savings of $344 million. The department has requested about $4.8 million for contract state nursing home inspectors to help address the backlog of inspections due to the ongoing pandemic.

DCH’s FY 2022 budget includes a request for $68 million for the implementation of the Patients First Act and $750,000 for the implementation of the All Payers Claim Database (APCD). The department’s budget also includes the addition of $64 million for growth within Medicaid and a reduction of $165 million in federal funds at the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency when the federal government stops sending extra Medicaid money to states.

Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities  
Image depicting behavioral health

The Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) provides treatment, support services, and assistance to Georgians with disabilities, mental health conditions, and substance use disorders. Commissioner Judy Fitzgerald presented DBHDD’s budget and highlighted the impact of previous budget cuts on the department’s goals. 

DBHDD’s top priority includes providing services in the community for those most in need. The FY 2021 budget saw an addition of $32.1 million from the federal government’s supplemental Medicaid funding for COVID-19 related services. Like DCH, DBHDD’s FY 2021 budget benefits from the federal government’s supplemental Medicaid funding for COVID-19 related services.

The FY 2022 budget includes an addition of $1.9 million for 100 new slots for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the New Options Waiver (NOW) and the Comprehensive Supports Waiver Program (COMP) for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Additionally, the budget includes $4.6 million in funding for a 40-bed forensic unit in Columbus. Commissioner Fitzgerald also assured committee members that there would be no reductions in peer services.

Opportunities for advocacy!

Speak up for a healthier Georgia during these virtual advocacy days!
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Don’t miss out on opportunities for advocacy with GHF and our amazing partners! We’ll be sharing exciting events and advocacy opportunities throughout this year’s legislative session. Save these dates and help us build a healthier Georgia together:

New Year! New Medicaid goals!
Image with golden 2021

Over 560,000 Georgians are still waiting for Georgia leaders to make the right choice and expand Medicaid. State leaders can expand Medicaid at any time and we are asking them to publicly commit to doing just that in 2021! By expanding the Medicaid health insurance program, thousands more Georgians would gain health coverage and access to care if they become sick without the worry of unaffordable medical bills afterward. Georgia is one of only 12 states that have not yet done the right thing by expanding Medicaid. Our legislators can make 2021 a brighter, healthier year for all Georgians! Ask your legislators to make a New Year’s resolution for Medicaid expansion today.

GHF has you covered

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GHF will be monitoring legislative activity on a number of critical consumer health care topics. Along with our weekly legislative updates and timely analysis of bills, we have the tools you need to stay in touch with health policy under the Gold Dome.


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