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Legislative Update: Action alert on express lane Medicaid, plus new bills on vaccines, public option, and childhood lead exposure

Legislative Update: Week 4

Thank you for your readership and enthusiasm for GHF’s weekly legislative updates! The GHF team enjoys putting these updates together to keep you in the loop. We work hard to deliver this service to you in a complete and accurate way every week of Georgia’s legislative session. If you rely on these updates to keep you connected to the health happenings under the Gold Dome, please consider supporting our work with a donation today. Thank you very much!

In this week’s update:
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  • Take action to reduce the number of uninsured children in Georgia
  • Legislation on vaccine administration, lead poisoning in children, prior authorization, and a Medicaid public option!
  • Advocacy events for your calendar
  • GHF’s got you covered this session!

Action alert: Medicaid “express lane” for kids

Ask the House Health & Human Services Committee to vote YES on HB 163!
Cartoon mom and child standing together

HB 163, sponsored by House Health & Human Services (HHS) Committee Chairwoman Sharon Cooper, directs Georgia’s Medicaid enrollment system and Medicaid agency to adopt “express lane” eligibility for kids who qualify for Medicaid coverage. Express lane eligibility is an evidence-based and cost-effective way to reduce the number of uninsured children in Georgia by making it easier for them to get enrolled and stay covered under Medicaid. 

HB 163 will be discussed in the House HHS committee tomorrow, February 9, at 2 pm.  Contact Rep. Cooper’s office at 404-656-5069 to thank her for her leadership on this bill! Let the other members of the HHS committee know that they should support HB 163 too!

Legislation that deserves your attention

Expanding who can give vaccines
woman with medical personell

SB 46, sponsored by Senator Dean Burke, allows emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and cardiac technicians to give vaccines during public health emergencies. This authorization only applies to vaccines for illnesses for which there are declared public health emergencies. This bill also removes the exemption for children under 18 to register with the statewide vaccination registry (called GRITS) for vaccinations administered due to a declared public health emergency. This bill was referred to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

Proposed study committee would look at child lead exposure
Picture of a young girl flexing at the doctor's office

HR 52, sponsored by Representative Katie Dempsey, creates the Joint Study Committee on Childhood Lead Exposure. Lead poisoning in children continues to be a serious issue in Georgia as lead poisoning is irreversible and can cause speech, language, and behavioral problems, lower IQ levels, and nervous system damage. This resolution was referred to the House Health and Human Services Committee.

For more information on this important public health issue, check out this helpful fact sheet from Voices for Georgia’s Children.

Protecting consumers by ensuring transparency in prior authorization
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SB 80, the Ensuring Transparency in Prior Authorization Act, sponsored by Senator Kay Kirkpatrick, aims to address barriers to care created by prior authorization. Prior authorization is a review that insurance companies will check before they agree to pay for certain health services or medications. This bill requires that insurers make any requirements or restrictions for prior authorization available on its website to the general public. This publicly available information must include, all written clinical criteria. Additionally, the bill sets guidelines and time tables for prior authorization that ease the burden of prior authorization on patients and health care providers. This bill was referred to the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee.

Making Medicaid a public option to promote coverage
image of plus sign

SB 83, sponsored by Senator Sally Harell, provides for a Medicaid public option program. The bill directs the Department of Community Health to develop a new public insurance option called “Peachcare Public Option” that would allow all Georgians, regardless of age, income level, or insurance status to buy in to Georgia’s Medicaid Managed Care program. This is the same system used for Georgia’s popular Peachcare for Kids program. According to the bill, the Peachcare Public Option would cost consumers no more or less than what it will cost the government to provide the service. 

This bill has been referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee. A similar bill from Sen. Harrell received a hearing but no vote in the 2020 legislative session. 

This week’s advocacy events

Speak up for a healthier Georgia during these virtual advocacy days!
man in group setting

Don’t miss out on opportunities for advocacy with GHF and our partners! Attend these advocacy events and help us build a healthier Georgia together:

GHF has you covered

Stay up-to-date with the legislative session
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GHF will continue monitoring legislative activity on a critical consumer health care issues. 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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