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GHF legislative update: January 30

Legislative update: Week 3

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
  • Governor Kemp’s State of the State address
  • Legislation GHF is keeping up with! 
  • The General Assembly 2023 calendar
  • Advocacy events for your calendar
  • GHF’s got you covered this session!


Governor Kemp addresses legislators in the State of State address

On Wednesday, Governor Kemp addressed the General Assembly in his annual State of the State address. Per tradition, he used the opportunity to point to important items in his proposed budget and lay out his priorities for 2023. While much of the speech was focused on addressing crime and public safety, he did devote a portion to health care.

Towards the end of his address, Governor Kemp promoted his Pathways to Coverage program (aka “Pathways”), which is a partial Medicaid expansion. He confirmed that the program will begin July 1, 2023. Georgians between the age of 19-64 with incomes at or below the poverty level will be eligible to enroll in Medicaid if they meet stringent work and premium requirements. According to the Governor’s office, 345,000 Georgians could qualify for coverage under Pathways, but estimates by his own Department of Community Health say less than 90,000 people will gain coverage. 

Gov. Kemp also described the improvements that Georgia has seen in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace over the last several years. Since 2019, the number of Georgians enrolled in ACA coverage has more than doubled and the choice of insurance companies has expanded from four to ten. These successes are the result of several factors: the additional financial help approved by Congress in 2019 and 2022 to lower premiums for ACA consumers; the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2021 decision to uphold the ACA for the third time; insurers’ subsequent confidence that the ACA would remain the law of the land; and Georgia’s reinsurance program to lower premiums (and re-assure insurers) starting in 2022.


The first few weeks of Georgia’s legislative session are taken up by some ceremonial activities and a lot of focus on the budget. That means new legislation gets off to a slow start. While little attention has been paid to new bills so far, we expect committees in both chambers to begin meeting and considering legislation in the coming days. Here are a few that we believe deserve your attention and the attention of legislators.

Reducing Medicaid coverage losses during the upcoming Medicaid unwinding

Introduced by House Minority Leader James Beverly and co-sponsored by almost all minority-party officers, HB 37 will require the Department of Community Health (DCH) to devote sufficient resources to conducting Medicaid redeterminations  during the Medicaid unwinding, which will begin April 1st. This bill reflects the concerns raised over the estimated 545,000 Georgia children and adults who may lose their Medicaid coverage temporarily or permanently during the 12-month unwinding. As many as 45% of those who lose their coverage will still be eligible for Medicaid. By dedicating sufficient resources to the unwinding, Georgia could prevent some unnecessary coverage losses.

HB 37 has been referred to the new Public Health committee chaired by Rep. Sharon Cooper.

Full Medicaid Expansion

HB 38 was introduced by House Minority Leader James Beverly with the same co-sponsors as HB 37. The bill would expand Medicaid to uninsured, low income adults, as originally intended by the Affordable Care Act. 

Medicaid expansion would cover at least four times more people than Pathways (400,000 vs. 60-90,000) and would cost four times less. 

HB 38 has been referred to the Public Health committee. 

Georgia Health and Economic Livelihood Partnership (HELP) Act

Led by Rep. Sam Park, HB 62 is titled the Georgia Health and Economic Livelihood Partnership (HELP) Act. HB 62 would expand Medicaid to cover low-income adults (similar to HB 38). It would additionally create an work readiness program for Medicaid members, supported by the Georgia Department of Labor.

This bill mirrors Montana’s successful Medicaid expansion and work readiness program. Instead of filling out tedious paperwork each month (like Pathways requires), the HELP work readiness program would address real barriers to economic success experienced by Medicaid members. It also recognizes that people need health insurance and care before they are able to work. 

Georgia Work and Family Credit Act

Rep. Sam Park is also the lead sponsor of HB 79, which would create a state earned income tax credit.

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a public health intervention that boosts incomes and health outcomes for low-wage workers and families. Policies like the EITC can lessen the impact of poverty on the health of Georgians and reduce racial health gaps. Learn more about the EITC with GHF’s new video here and join the Georgia Work Credit coalition to support a Georgia EITC!


Georgia’s General Assembly meetings and adjournments for 2023

The first week of session the 2023 General Assembly adopted the full calendar for the rest of the 2023 legislative session. Two important dates to note: 

  • March 6th – Crossover Day. This is the deadline by which a bill has to be approved by either the Senate or the House so it can “cross over” to the other chamber. 
  • March 29th – SINE DIE. “Sine Die” means “no certain date to resume.” At the Georgia legislature, that means it’s the last day of that year’s session.


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

icon of the capitol

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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GHF In The News

May 31, 2024
Experts urge Georgia to reform health insurance system
Wilborn P. Nobles III

Health care researchers and advocates want Georgia to implement new policies across its health insurance system as the state concludes its yearlong process of redetermining eligibility for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program.