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GHF legislative update: January 23


The 2023 legislative session has begun

The Georgia General Assembly convened Monday, Jan. 9th to officially kick off the 40-day legislative session. 

The following day, as Georgians celebrated UGA’s national football championship win, GHF held Health Care Unscrambled 2023 and released our 2023-2024 policy priorities. Thank you to those who attended HCU! To revisit HCU 2023 or see what you missed, check out our recap and materials here.

The General Assembly reconvened Wednesday through Friday, completing the first four days of the session. Days 1-4 sped by quickly. Members were sworn in and legislative leaders hammered out the schedule for this year’s session which you can access here. (It’s rare–and very helpful!–for the full calendar to be set so early in session.)  Despite being new in their roles, Lt. Gov. Burt Jones and Speaker Burns wasted no time in putting their stamps on the Senate and House respectively as they re-shaped committees and re-assigned committee leaders. For more information about the new committees and committee leaders, scroll down to New Leaders, New Committees.

On Friday, January 13th, Governor Kemp released his proposals for the current state budget (FY 2023 Amended) and next year’s budget (FY 2024 General). We featured some highlights for you below.

Last week began with Martin Luther King Jr. Day and continued as “budget week”. House and Senate Appropriations Committee members held joint hearings during which state agency leaders presented their budget requests and reviewed agency spending. 

The General Assembly will reconvene today, Jan. 23rd for the fifth official day of legislative session. 


Governor Kemp submits his updated budget recommendations

On Friday, Jan. 13th, Governor Kemp released a budget report that detailed his recommended changes to the current budget (known as AFY23 or the amended budget) and proposals for the FY24 budget (known as the “big budget”, which begins July 1, 2023).

The Governor’s FY24 budget recommendations included funding for the Pathways to Coverage program (aka “Pathways”). The Pathways program is a partial Medicaid expansion that will likely begin this July. Georgians between the age of 19-64 with incomes at or below the poverty level will be newly eligible to enroll in Medicaid if they meet stringent work and premium requirements. The strict requirements will mean 100,000 low-income uninsured Georgians will gain coverage as compared to the 400,000 who need it. Because Pathways is not Medicaid expansion, the state will pay three times more per person for this program and forgo a $1.3 billion “sign-on bonus”

The Governor’s budget recommendations include:

  • $26.9 million to increase funding for school counselors to help address student emotional and mental well-being
  • $52 million to implement the Georgia Pathways to Coverage program established by the Patients First Act 
  • $92 million in both the AFY23 and FY24 budgets for the state reinsurance program to reduce health insurance premiums for plans sold on the ACA marketplace (healthcare.gov)
  • $800,000 to Office of Planning and Budget for the all-payer claims database (APCD). Georgia’s APCD will collect claims data from some private insurance companies, the state health benefit plan, Medicaid, and Medicare. State officials and researchers will use the data to better understand and address health care costs, disease patterns, health disparities, and other improvements in Georgia’s health care and coverage systems.

State agencies present budget requests 

State agency leaders presented the Governor’s budget requests for their respective agencies to House and Senate Appropriations committees during last week’s “budget week”. This week, the House Appropriations Committee will begin its work by pulling together the budget requests into legislation and reviewing the funding requests before making changes.

The state agencies budget recommendations include:

Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities 

  • AFY23: $1.6 million (M) to increase respite services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD)
    • Respite care allows the caregivers of of people with IDD to take care of other needs, like taking other family members to needed appointments. These short-term care services are critical for caretakers’ emotional and physical well-being. 
  • FY24: $10.2 M to make permanent 513 NOW and COMP waivers and $4.2 M for 250 new waiver slots
    • NOW & COMP waivers allow people with IDD to receive community-based services. Even with these new slots, 7,000 Georgians with IDD are still on the waiting list for a waiver.

Department of Community Health  

Some of the biggest changes in DCH’s budgets will come from the gradual ramp down of extra COVID-19 Medicaid funding (beginning April 1 and ending December 31). This extra funding has been provided by Congress and the federal government for most of the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE). Find out more about these changes here. 

  • AFY23:
    • Adjust funding to adjust for changes in federal funding changes for home and community based services. 
    • $198.3 M increase for Medicaid enrollment growth (all eligibility groups), balanced with a savings of $505.8 M because of the extra COVID-19 federal Medicaid funding.
  • FY24:
    • $79.2 M for increased use of health services among Age, Blind and Deaf (ABD) Medicaid members (Medicaid for Georgians over the age of 65 or who are blind or disabled).
    • Increases in funding across Medicaid groups to account for the ramp down of extra COVID-19 Medicaid funding and other federal funding adjustments. These adjustments add up to about $151 M.
    • $52.2 M for implementation of the Pathways to Coverage program (as described above). This will be added to $65.5 M rolled over from the FY22 budget (HB 81), bringing total for the program to $153 M.
    • $850,000 to establish a new loan repayment program for mental health professionals. This addition is a result of the Georgia Mental Health Parity Act, passed by last year’s legislature.

Department of Human Services

Beginning April 1st, DHS and DCH will begin to assess the eligibility of 2.7 million Medicaid members, including PeachCare for Kids. For many members, this will be the first time they’ve gone through the “redetermination” process, because it has been paused since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. The continuous coverage protections have been important for Medicaid members to ensure they have access to care during COVID-19. Some of DHS’s budget changes are related to the end of Medicaid continuous coverage, which is sometimes referred to as the “Medicaid unwinding” which will take at least 14 months. 

  • AFY23: $8.3 M for administrative needs related to the Medicaid unwinding, including:
    • $662,000 for 80 additional Medicaid caseworkers
    • $5.77 M for a management consultant to oversee quality during the Medicaid redeterminations.
  • FY24: $3.24 M for 300 additional Medicaid eligibility caseworkers for redeterminations.

Department of Insurance 

  • AFY23: $92 M increase for reinsurance program to lower health insurance premiums.
  • FY24: $92 M added for reinsurance program to lower health insurance premiums.

Department of Public Health 

  • AFY23: No changes requested.
  • FY24: $931.1 M for expansion of Prep pilot project in rural parts of the state.


Changes to 2023 House & Senate committees

At the beginning of each legislative biennial, new committee and committee chair assignments are made in the House and Senate. This year, Lt. Governor Burt Jones and Speaker Jon Burns made their marks on the committees by creating three new health-related committees and appointing new leaders to existing committees.

The new House and Senate committees include:

The House and Senate committees with new leadership include:


Check out these advocacy events: 

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 be monitoring legislative activity on a number of critical consumer health care topics. Along with our weekly legislative updates and timely analysis of bills, here are tools to help you stay in touch with health policy under the Gold Dome.

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