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Legislative Update: Call your Reps for mental health parity, postpartum passed, Medicaid reimbursement, and more!

Legislative update: Week 5

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:

Image of the Georgia capitol
  • Action Alert: Ask the House HHS committee to support the Mental Health Parity Act this Wednesday!
  • Legislation about private insurance coverage of mental health & substance use, attempts to ban abortion-inducing medication in the mail, and allowing Medicaid members to receive treatment in certain in-patient mental health settings! 
  • Advocacy events for your calendar
  • GHF’s got you covered this session!

ACTION ALERT: ASK THE HOUSE HHS COMMITTEE TO SUPPORT THE MENTAL HEALTH PARITY ACT!

Show your support for the Mental Health Parity Act!

The Mental Health Parity Act will have its first hearing in the House Health & Human Services Committee this Wednesday. You can help give this incredibly meaningful bill the strong start that it needs by calling or emailing committee members and asking them to unanimously pass the bill!

The Mental Health Parity Act (MHPA) is a big bill that could make mental health & substance use (MH/SU) recovery easier for Georgians. The bill includes six big sections that:

  1. Requires private and public health insurers to provide coverage for MH/SU disorder equal to how they cover other health conditions
  2. Helps identify and fill MH/SU workforce gaps with a new loan forgiveness program and data collection effort
  3. Removes the requirement that a person commit a crime before law enforcement can transport a person to an emergency room or a physician for a mental health evaluation
  4. Reduces criminalization of mental health by establishing a court program that allows people with serious mental illness are not sent to jail without getting necessary mental health support
  5. Aims to streamline and coordinate MH/SU care for very high need children and adolescents
  6. Requires the state to compare how Georgia Medicaid providers are paid for MH/SU services with pay rates in other states

Here’s a fact sheet that helps explain the most significant parts of the bill.

The Mental Health Parity Act would mean Georgians who need MH/SU services can more easily access and afford those services. Insurance companies are already trying to weaken this bill, so it’s important for lawmakers to hear loud and positive support from you. Please call or email the House HHS committee members to say why you support this bill and to ask for their strong support too.

Want to do more? Call or email your own legislators and ask for their support for the Mental Health Parity Act too!


Legislation that deserves your attention

Budget check: The Georgia House of Representatives approved changes to the current state budget (amended FY22 budget) last week. Now the amended FY22 budget will go onto the Senate for consideration. The House will now turn its attention to the big budget (FY23 budget), which begins July 1st of this year.

House and Senate are well underway with their committee work and considering key legislation. Here are a few bills that we believe deserve your attention and the attention of legislators.

SB 338 passed through Senate! Now onto the House! 

SB 338, one of GHF’s 2022 priorities, was passed by the Senate this week! We are very appreciative of the leadership of Sen. Burke, lead sponsor of the bill, and all members of the Senate for moving this bill through the chamber with such urgency.

SB 338 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.

SB 338 will now go to the House Committee on Health & Human Services.

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.

SB 342 passed out of the Senate Committee on Insurance and Labor last week and passed the full Senate this week. It has been referred to the House Committee on Health & Human Services

Ban on receiving abortion-inducing medication by mail

Known as the “Women’s Health and Safety Act”, SB 456, sponsored by Senator Bruce Thompson, would require women requesting abortion-inducing medications to first meet in person with their physician and have an ultrasound performed. SB 456 will ban individuals from receiving this abortion-inducing medication by mail directly to their home, as currently allowed by the Federal Food and Drug Administration. 

SB 456 passed out of the Senate Committee Health and Human Services with a 7-5 in favor of vote. 

Allowing certain inpatient mental health facilities to be reimbursed by Medicaid

Sponsored by Representative Robert Pruitt, HB 1404 would direct the Georgia Department of Community Health to apply for a federal wavier for institutions for mental diseases (IMDs) to receive Medicaid reimbursement. IMDs are in-patient mental health facilities with 16 or more beds and current Federal regulations bar Medicaid from covering IMD treatment.  Many states apply for this waiver to be able to cover in-patient mental health services for their Medicaid population. This bill will increase needed access to mental health care by allowing patients on Medicaid to receive impatient mental health treatment and providing in-patient mental health treatment facilities another avenue of reimbursement. 

The resolution has been referred to the House Committee on Special Committee On Access to Quality Health Care

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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