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Legislative Update: Keep calling your Reps for mental health parity, more treatment for those with HIV, state health plans transparency, and more!

Legislative update: Week 6

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 (again) the House HHS committee to support the Mental Health Parity Act!
  • Legislation about increasing coverage for Georgians with HIV, greater transparency for state health plans, and a hearing for a bill banning COVID-19 vaccine “passports”! 
  • Advocacy events for your calendar: Housing, substance use, & the Georgia work credit
  • GHF’s got you covered this session!

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

Continue to show your support for the Mental Health Parity Act!

The Mental Health Parity Act had its first hearing in the House Health & Human Services Committee this past Wednesday. More than two dozen organizations and individuals testified on the bill, with the large majority issuing their strong support. Several groups identified how the bill could better meet the needs of immigrant Georgians and others with limited English skills. Health Policy Analyst Whitney Griggs offered GHF’s support for the parity section of the bill. 

You can help ensure the Mental Health Parity Act passes with strong support 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. 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 has approved changes to the current state budget (amended FY22 budget). The Senate is now working on its changes. The House has turned its attention to the big budget (FY23 budget). The House Health Appropriations subcommittee will hold hearings on many of the health parts of the budget tomorrow and Wednesday. On Wednesday, the public can offer testimony on the FY23 budget, which will begin on July 1 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.

Increasing treatment for those living with HIV 

HB 1192, sponsored by Representative Sharon Cooper Kay, would direct the Department of Community Health (DCH) to apply for a the Section 1115 waiver from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The waiver would to allow DCH to provide Medicaid coverage to Georgians living with HIV/AIDS who have incomes below 138% of the Federal Poverty Level and have no other health coverage. 

According to a report by Georgia Equality, this proposal would close the coverage gap for 12,567 uninsured Georgians who have been left behind because Georgia leaders have so far refused to expand Medicaid to all low-income adults. This bill would also save the state $53 million that could be used to better address the HIV epidemic in Georgia.

HB 1192 has passed out of the House Committee on Health & Human Services. The House Rules committee will now decide when the bill can go to the House floor for a full vote.

Greater transparency on state health plans on department website

HB 1276, sponsored by Representative Lee Hawkins, requires the Department of Community Health to post data on their website for Medicaid, Peach Care for Kids and the State Health Benefit Plan. Required data includes the numbers of providers in each plan, hospital utilization and costs, prescription drug spending, and more. The aim of the bill is to provide more transparency on the public insurance plans in Georgia. 

HB 1276 has passed out of the House Committee on Health & Human Services.  

Bill that attempts to ban COVID-19 vaccine “passports” to get a hearing this week 

SB 345, introduced by Senator Jeff Mullis, would prohibit state and local governments from mandating COVID-19 vaccine passports. SB 345 has been referred to the Senate Health & Human Services committee, where it is scheduled for a hearing this Wednesday, February 23rd at 1pm. 

Our partners at Voices for Georgia’s Children have published this excellent fact sheet about vaccines and vaccine safety for children & youth.


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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