The effort was a collaboration between Physicians for a National Health Program, a group of doctors that advocates for Medicare for All, elected officials, community members, patients and advocacy groups…
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: CROSSOVER DAY RECAP
In today’s update:
Monday was the 28th day of the Georgia legislative session, which is also called 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.
In this special midweek legislative update, we run down which consumer health bills made it through and which did not. We have included only the bills that we covered in Monday’s week 8 legislative update.
Note: After the flurry of activity on Monday, we are still working to update our legislative tracker with the current status of each bill. While many are updated, it is best to find the bill you are interested in and click through to find the full information about the bill’s status on legis.ga.gov.
CROSSOVER DAY ACTION
HB 18: AFY23 Budget
After reconciling their budget differences, the Georgia Senate and House gave their final approvals to this year’s updated state budget (amended FY23 budget) on Monday. The amended FY23 budget now goes to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
HB 19: FY24 Budget
For the first time in over 40 years, the coming fiscal year’s budget was not passed by the House before the Crossover Day deadline. While this is allowed, it is highly unusual and indicates how unique this legislative session has been (primarily due to new leadership). We expect the House Appropriations committee to release its version of the FY24 budget on Friday. We will include an overview in next week’s legislative update.
HB 85: Expanding insurance coverage for biomarker testing
HB 85, introduced by Representative Sharon Cooper, would require insurance companies to cover comprehensive biomarker testing. Biomarker testing allows patients to receive treatments for diseases, like cancer, that are tailored to the genetic make-up of the disease. The House has passed HB 85 and it has been assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services committee.
HB 129: Expanding TANF assistance to Georgia families
HB 129 would expand Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) to pregnant women who meet TANF eligibility criteria. Under current TANF rules, pregnant women cannot receive benefits.
HB 226: Medicaid coverage for persons with HIV
DID NOT RECEIVE A FLOOR VOTE
HB 226 would expand Medicaid to low-income, uninsured Georgians living with HIV. Currently, uninsured Georgians living with HIV can receive medications to manage the disease through the Ryan White Program’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP). HB 226 would enable these folks to gain full health coverage through Medicaid so they can take care of other health conditions that are not covered by Ryan White.
HB 295: Updates to Georgia’s surprise billing law
HB 295, introduced by Representative Lee Hawkins, would update Georgia’s surprise billing law to address a few implementation issues that have arisen now that the law has been in place for two years. The changes are primarily around the provider-insurer arbitration process and do not impact consumer protections from surprise out-of-network medical bills.
HB 343: Lowering Prescription Drug Costs for Patients Act
HB 343, introduced by Representative Mark Newton, would change requirements for pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs). The Lowering Prescription Drug Costs for Patients Act would require PBMs to pass the discounts receive from drug makers down to consumers, possibly lowering out of pocket prescription prices. The House Health committee originally approved the bill with the requirement that PBMs pass 80% of their savings to consumers. The House Rules committee sent HB 343 back to the Health committee with a request that it be amended to 50%. The House Health committee lowered the requirement as requested and approved the bill again. The lower 50% threshold is disappointing but there is an opportunity to restore it to 80% in the Senate.
Thank you to those who called the Rules Committee members in support of HB 343! Great work!
HB 404: The Safe at Home Act
HB 404, known as The Safe at Home Act, would give enforceable rights and protections to renters in Georgia. HB 404 would require landlords to ensure rental homes are “fit for human habitation.” The bill also increases protections for tenants facing eviction for falling a few days behind on rent.
HB 520: Mental health bill
HB 520 seeks to build on last year’s sweeping Georgia Mental Health Parity Act. HB 520 aims to address the statewide shortage of mental health providers, understand the capacity for in-patient mental health and substance use treatment, streamline the ways that state agencies involved in behavioral health can share data, and address the needs of so-called “familiar faces” (people that cycle between homelessness, jails, and hospitals due to serious mental illness).
HB 565: Expanding access to cash assistance for families
DID NOT RECEIVE A FLOOR VOTE
HB 565, introduced by Representative Tyler Paul Smith, increases the asset cap and lifetime maximum benefit period for Georgia’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. TANF is a cash assistance program for families with children and with very low incomes. Very few families in Georgia receive TANF benefits, which come to about $280 per month for a family of 3 (which is about 15% of the federal poverty level).
SB 47: Updating vaping regulations
SB 47, sponsored by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, would update the Indoor Air Quality Act.The changes would prohibit vaping in the same areas that smoking is currently banned in Georgia. Georgia’s smoking ban was put in place in 2005, well before vaping became popular.
SB 65: Allowing Georgia to operate a state-run ACA marketplace
SB 65, introduced by Sen. Ben Watson, would allow Georgia to establish its own state-based marketplace (SBM) for health insurance. The bill also allows the Commissioner of Insurance to create an advisory committee to provide recommendations for establishing an SBM. Lastly, it removes the ban on state entities, including the University of Georgia, from operating health insurance navigator programs.
SB 20: The Consumer Access to Contracted Healthcare (CATCH) Act
SB 20 was introduced by Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick and is titled the Consumer Access to Contracted Healthcare (CATCH) Act. The original intention of the CATCH Act was to set network adequacy standards for insurers and provides consumers with protections when they are forced to go out of a health plan’s network of providers to access timely care. The bill was changed by the Senate Insurance committee, which removed the consumer protections and did not add in measurable network adequacy standards to which insurance companies can be held accountable.
SB 140: Banning gender-affirming surgery for minors
SB 140 would ban gender-affirming health care for minors. Under the current version of SB 140, any physician that performs surgery or prescribes hormone replacement therapy to alter the primary or secondary characteristics of a minor would be subject to administrative action by the licensing board.
SB 162: Certificate of Need Reform
DID NOT RECEIVE A FLOOR VOTE
SB 162, introduced by Senator Ben Watson, would repeal Georgia’s Certificate of Need (CON) requirement for hospitals and certain other health care facilities. It would replace CON with a new “special health care services license.”
OPPORTUNITIES FOR ADVOCACY!
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:
- March 7: Community Health Worker Awareness Day at the Capitol with Georgia Watch
- March 8: Employment First/Ending Subminimum Wage Day Advocacy Day: in-person at the Capitol with the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD)
- March 14: 2023 Lobby Day with Presbyterians for a Better Georgia
If you have an upcoming advocacy event that you’d like included, please contact Alex McDoniel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
GHF has you covered!
Stay up-to-date with the legislative session
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.
- Sign up for the Georgia Health Action Network (GHAN) to receive action alerts that let you know when there are opportunities for advocacy and action
- Remind yourself how the legislative process works
- Catch up with our 2023-2024 policy priorities
- Track health-related legislation on GHF’s website
- Find or contact your legislators on our website
- Write a letter to the editor about a legislative issue that’s important to you