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Legislative Update: Call your Senator for moms!, Rx drugs, smoking, and more!

Legislative update: Week 4

The GHF team loves bringing you these weekly legislative updates, and you have told us that you enjoy reading them! Our team works 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 increase Medicaid coverage for new moms
  • Legislation about private insurance coverage of mental health & substance use, prior authorization of prescription medicines, and a proposed study committee on smoking!
  • Advocacy events for your calendar
  • GHF’s got you covered this session!

Action Alert: Call your State Senator for moms & babies

Ask the Senate to vote YES on SB 338 TODAY (February 7th)!

SB 338, introduced by Senator Dean Burke , will increase postpartum Medicaid coverage from six months to one year following the end of a person’s pregnancy. Georgia has one of the highest pregnancy-related death rates in the country. This bill is an important step to improving maternal health outcomes in Georgia because Medicaid covers more than half of births in the state each year. The Governor expressed his support for this coverage extension by dedicating $28 million to it in his proposed FY23 budget.

Contact Sen. Burke’s office at (404) 656-0040 to thank him for his leadership on this bill! Then find your state Senator here (tip: look for the person second from the bottom) and let them know that they should support SB 338 too!

Here’s an example of what you might say: “My name is ________ and I live in your district. Please vote YES on Senate Bill 338 when it comes to the Senate floor for a vote this morning. It will help Georgia mothers access health services so they can recover from childbirth, manage chronic health issues, and take care of their mental health. Thank you!”

Legislation that deserves your attention

Budget check: The Georgia House of Representatives continued its work on the amended FY22 budget last week. House Appropriations subcommittees have held initial hearings on the FY22 budget. We will keep you updated as this year’s amended budget and next year’s budget progress through the legislative process.

While the House’s attention is primarily focused on the state budget, many Senate committees have begun meeting and considering legislation. Here are a few bills that we believe deserve your attention and the attention of legislators.

Increasing behavioral health parity in health care plans 

SB 342, sponsored by Senator Kay Kirkpatrick, would require private health insurers to submit current and correct data to the Department of Insurance showing that they meet federal health parity requirements to cover mental health and substance services in the same way as physical health services. This bill is consistent with the parity section of the Mental Health Parity Act from House Speaker Ralston that we covered in last week’s update

SB 342 was passed out of the Senate Committee on Insurance and Labor last week. The bill was voted on by the full Senate on Feb. 7th.

Prescription medications for chronic illnesses
image of prescription medication

Sponsored by Senator Kay Kirkpatrick, SB 341 updates guidelines for medicines prescribed for chronic conditions. It specifically addresses prior authorization, which is an approval of coverage from your insurance company. Under the bill, if an insurance company approves a medication used to manage a chronic condition, the authorization must be valid for one year.

Some insurance companies require doctors or patients to get their approval every few months even for chronic diseases that don’t change much over time. The new guidelines would reduce the amount of time that both consumers and providers have to spend on paperwork

The new guidelines would not apply to prescriptions that treat acute illnesses or prescriptions given by a provider for less than year. 

SB 341 has been passed out of the Insurance & Labor Committee.

New study committee on health impacts of smoking

Senator Michelle Au introduced SR 346 in January, and it would establish the “Senate Costs & Effects of Smoking” study committee. Five Senate members would be appointed to serve on the committee. They would hear from experts, advocates, and the public about the long- and short-term health impacts of smoking and second-hand smoke, health care costs from smoking, and related issues. The study committee could highlight Georgia’s incredibly low tobacco tax and the opportunity that legislators have to increase it.

The resolution has been referred to the Senate Rules committee. Study committee resolutions are often voted on later in the legislative session. 

This week’s advocacy events

Check out these advocacy days:

man in group setting

Each week during the legislative session, we’ll highlight legislative advocacy days from partner groups. These are great opportunities for you to participate in the lawmaking process by meeting your legislators and speaking up about important issues. Upcoming:

If you have an upcoming advocacy event that you’d like included, please contact Alex McDoniel at amcdoniel@healthyfuturega.org

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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