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Legislative Update: Action alert: Call your Senators about HB 1355, Crossover Day recap, advocacy events coming up, and more!

Legislative update: Week 10

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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  • Action Alert: Call your State Senator to pass HB 1355! 
  • Crossover Day Bill Recap
  • Advocacy Days coming up!
  • GHF’s got you covered this session!

ACTION ALERT: CALL YOUR STATE SENATOR TO PROTECT CHILDREN

Ask the Senate Health and Human Services Committee to vote YES on the Childhood Lead Exposure Control Act!

The Childhood Led Exposure Control Act, HB 1355, will be heard again in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee this Wednesday at 1pm. HB 1355 would help protect children’s health. This bill would:

  • Update Georgia law to align blood level recommendations with CDC guidelines for children
  • Aid the early identification of children with elevated blood lead levels so that remediation can occur to reduce harm and prevent future exposure 
  • Protect children under 6 from lead exposure found in the interior and exteriors of rental housing, schools, and daycare centers
  • Provide for scientifically based standards for the removal of lead hazards

Call or email Senate committee members on the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and urge them to vote YES. 


CROSSOVER DAY RECAP

Last Tuesday was the 28th day of the Georgia legislative session, which is also referred to as Crossover Day. Crossover Day is the final day for a bill to cross from its chamber of origin to the opposite chamber to remain viable for this legislative session.

This week’s legislative update provides a rundown of consumer health legislation: which bills made it through and which did not. You can see a list of all the bills we’re tracking here. Note: After a flurry of activity last week, we are still working to update our legislative tracker with the current status of each bill. So while many of the bills are updated, it is best to find the bill you are interested in and click through to find the full information on the bill’s status on legis.ga.gov. 


HB 1013: Mental Health Parity Act | CROSSED OVER
HB 1013, sponsored by Speaker David Ralston, addresses the state’s pressing mental health needs. Central to the bill are strong parity provisions for both private health insurers and public health insurance (Medicaid managed care, Peach Care  for Kids, and the State Health Benefit Plan). These provisions will require insurers to treat mental health and substance abuse disorders the same as physical health. This bill was referred to the Senate HHS CommitteeAction alert! Please continue to contact the Senate HHS committee members and your state Senator in support of HB 1013! Let’s keep the “parity” in the Georgia Mental Health Parity Act. Our mental health matters more than insurance company profits!

HB 1041: Income tax increase for rural hospitals | CROSSED OVER
HB 1041, sponsored by Rep. Clay Pirkle, will increases the tax credit limit for contributions to rural hospitals from $60M to $75M per year. This bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee

HB 1042: Primary care facilities in shortage areas: CROSSED OVER
HB 1042, sponsored by Rep. Rick Jasperse, creates a grant program to establish primary care facilities in areas with shortages of primary care providers. The grant program would be operated by the OneGeorgia Authority. Local government bodies (called development authorities) would be eligible to apply for the grants. The grants can be used to establish a doctor’s office or other primary care medical facility. The development authorities would then partner with one or more primary care providers (dentist, doctor, or mental health provider) to operate the primary care facilities. This bill was referred to the Senate HHS Committee

HB 1192: Medicaid coverage for persons with HIV | CROSSED OVER
HB 1192, sponsored by Rep. Sharon Cooper, would direct the Department of Community Health (DCH) to provide Medicaid coverage to uninsured Georgians living with HIV/AIDS who have incomes below 138% of the Federal Poverty Level. This bill saves the state $53 million that could be used to better address the HIV epidemic in Georgia. This bill was referred to the Senate HHS Committee

HB 1276: Transparency on state health plans on department website | CROSSED OVER
HB 1276, sponsored by Rep. Lee Hawkins, requires the Department of Community Health (DCH) 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. This bill was referred to the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee

HB 1348: Adding vaping to public smoking ban | CROSSED OVER
HB 1348, introduced by Rep. Bonnie Rich, would add vaping to the Georgia Smoke-free Air Act. The change would prohibit vaping in the same areas that smoking is currently prohibited in Georgia (most public buildings and work places). Georgia’s smoking ban was put in place in 2005, well before vaping became popular. This bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee

HB 1351: Medicaid prescription drug coverage | CROSSED OVER
HB 1351, sponsored by Rep. David Knight, would reform the way that prescription drugs are covered within Georgia’s Medicaid program. Currently, each Medicaid insurer sets its own list of covered medications (called a drug formulary). HB 1351 would instead require the Deprtment of Community Health (DCH) to create a central shared drug formlary that all Medicaid insurers would use. This bill was referred to the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee

HB 1355: The Childhood Lead Exposure Control Act | CROSSED OVER
HB 1355, sponsored by Rep. Katie Dempsey, would align Georgia’s blood lead level recommendations with federal recommendations for children. It would also trigger state action if like a requirement that the source of lead exposure be fixed or replaced. This bill also includes additional funding for more lead inspectors and equipment in a program managed by the Department of Public Health (DPH). This bill was referred to the Senate HHS Committee

HB 1371: Rural Health Advancement Commission | CROSSED OVER
HB 1371, sponsored by Rep. Rick Jasperse, would create the Rural Health Advancement Commission. The purpose of this commission is to look at “private-sector solutions” to address health and long-term care workforce shortages, with an emphasis on rural areas. The solutions may include collaborations between health care systems and educational institutions. This bill was referred to the Senate Government Oversight Committee

HB 1404: Institutions for mental diseases (IMDs) to receive Medicaid reimbursement | CROSSED OVER
HB 1404, introduced by Rep. Robert Pruitt, would direct the Department of Community Health (DCH) to apply for a federal waiver for institutions for mental diseases (IMDs) to receive Medicaid reimbursement. IMDs are in-patient mental health or substance use recovery facilities with 16 or more beds. Current federal regulations bar Medicaid from covering treatment at IMDs because of our country’s cruel history of institutionalizing people with mental illness. This bill was referred to the Senate HHS Committee

HB 1437: Taxation rates on income revised | CROSSED OVER
HB 1437, sponsored by Rep. Shaw Blackmon, is referred to as the “flat tax bill”. HB 1437 would revise taxation rates on income and would reduce the highest personal and corporate income tax rates. This bill would eliminate Georgia’s current graduated tax structure, in which tax rates increase from 1 to 5.75 percent as income levels go up. It would replace the current structure with a single, flat income tax rate of 5.25 percent. These tax changes would become effective for tax years beginning after January 1, 2024. The Georgia Budget & Policy Institute is closely tracking HB 1437. They report that the flat tax changes would primarily help wealthy Georgians, widen the racial wealth gap (which contributes to health disparities), and threaten future funding for health care and other publicly funded programs. This bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee

HB 1519: Prohibiting insurers from changing network providers | DID NOT CROSS OVER
HB 1519, sponsored by Sen. David Knight, prohibits insurers from changing their contracts with their in-network of providers in the middle of a contract term. This will prevent providers to be dropped mid-contract term and protect consumers from suddenly having their provider become out-of-network in the middle of care. 

SB 338: Increase postpartum Medicaid coverage | CROSSED OVER
SB 338, sponsored by Sen. Dean Burke, would 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. This bill was referred to the House HHS Committee

SB 341: Prescription medications for chronic illnesses | CROSSED OVER
SB 341, sponsored by Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, would update 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. This bill was referred to the House HHS Committee

SB 342: Increased reporting of mental health & substance use coverage in private health care plans | CROSSED OVER
SB 342, sponsored by Sen. 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 was referred to the House HHS Committee.

SB 345: Covid vaccine passport ban | CROSSED OVER
SB 345, introduced by Senator Jeff Mullis, would prohibits state and local governments from mandating proof of COVID-19 vaccinations for public services and access to public buildings. The bill was revised to clarify the ban extends only to COVID-19 vaccines and the ban expires on June 30, 2023. This bill was referred to the House HHS Committee.

SB 403: Georgia Behavioral Health and Peace Officer Co-Responder Act | CROSSED OVER
SB 403, co-sponsored by Sen. Ben Watson, aims to decrease risk to Georgians having a mental health crisis when they interact with police officers, and to relieve police officers from handling mental health calls without the proper support and resources. SB 403 would also require community service boards (Georgia’s mental health safety net system) to work with law enforcement agencies to develop co-responder training programs and co-responder teams. This bill was referred to the House HHS Committee.

SB 435: Anti-transgender athlete bill | CROSSED OVER
SB 435, sponsored by Senator Marty Harbin, would ban transgender youth from playing on a team that does not match the gender on their birth certificate. GHF opposes SB 435 because of the negative impacts it would have on Georgia children of all gender identities. It will be especially harmful to the mental health & well-being of transgender children and youth. This bill was referred to the House HHS Committee.

SB 456: Ban on receiving abortion-inducing medication by mail | CROSSED OVER
SB 456, sponsored by Sen. Bruce Thompson, would prohibit medication abortion pills from being mailed while: 1) Requiring an in-person doctor’s visit, ultrasound, and additional consent before the medication can be prescribed, and 2) Pushing physicians to give medically inaccurate advice on the reversibility of medication abortion. This bill was referred to the House HHS Committee.

SB 566: Updates to Georgia’s Surprise Billing & Consumer Protection Act | CROSSED OVER
SB 566, introduced by Sen. Dean Burke and Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, would update the Surprise Billing and Consumer Protection Act. These updates would clarify that emergency mental health and substance use care is covered under the Surprise Billing & Consumer Protection Act. This update means that a person who goes to the emergency room for a mental health or substance use treatment would be protected from “surprise” out-of-network bills, even if they are at an out-of-network hospital. (These protections do not apply to facilities outside of a hospital.) This bill was referred to the House Insurance Committee.

SB 610: Review of provider reimbursement rates | CROSSED OVER
SB 610, sponsored by Sen. Sally Harrell, would require the Deprtment of Community Health (DCH) to conduct a comprehensive review of provider reimbursement rates for home and community based services covered by the COMP NOW waiver. This bill was referred to the House Human Relations & Aging Committee.

This week’s advocacy events

Check out these advocacy days:

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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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