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GHF legislative update: January 29


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:

  • Action Alert: RSVP your spot for Mental Health Parity Day at the Capitol!
  • Mental Health bills hitting early 
  • Other legislation GHF is keeping up with
  • The General Assembly 2024 calendar
  • Advocacy events for your calendar
  • GHF’s got you covered this session!

Action Alert: Secure your spot for Mental Health Parity Day at the Capitol

Join us to continue making mental health parity real in Georgia!

On Thursday, February 8th, join The Carter Center Mental Health Program, GHF, and the Georgia Parity Collaborative for Mental Health Parity Day at the Capitol. This mid-day event will celebrate the passing of the Georgia Mental Health Parity Act (GMHPA) in 2022. This bill addressed the state’s pressing mental health & substance use needs. Immediately following the Mental Health Parity Day program at the Central Presbyterian Church, there will be a press conference in the Capitol South Wing about new efforts to make sure that Georgians feel the full benefits of the law.

Parity means fair or equal. The Georgia Mental Health Parity Act put in place strong rules so Georgians get the mental health & addiction coverage we need (and already pay for). Reserve your spot today and be part of keeping the progress going! 

Legislation that GHF is tracking

The first few weeks of Georgia’s legislative session are taken up by some ceremonial activities and a lot of focus on the budget. However, the 2024 session has started with an emphasis on further mental health legislation, stemming from the Mental Health Parity Act of 2022 (HB 1013).

Lowering Prescription Drug Costs for Patients Act

HB 343, introduced by Rep. Mark Newton during the 2023 legislative session, would have changed requirements for pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs). PBMs have come under scrutiny for their role in driving up prescription drug costs. HB 343 would have required PBMs to pass on half of their negotiated savings directly to consumers by lowering the amount a person pays at the pharmacy counter.

The bill was heard by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee last Wednesday where it failed to get the votes to pass out of committee. The bill was supported by numerous consumer advocacy groups, including GHF. It is unlikely that this bill will be revived this session.

Safe at Home Act

Rep. Kasey Carpenter’s HB 404 was approved by the House last year, but didn’t quite make it through the Senate before the end of last year’s session. The bill still sits in the Senate Judiciary Committee and is expected to receive a hearing this week (or soon after).

The bill will provide protections for tenents by ensuring rental properties are fit for human habitation, including cooling as an utility that cannot be shut off prior to an eviction notice, visable eviction notices posted on tenants’ doors, giving tenants three days to pay overdue rent, providing a notice once eviction notice is posted, and prohibiting landlords from requiring a security deposit that exceeds two months’ rent. These protections are necessary to ensure the renter has more housing stability for themselves and their families. 

Housing is a basic necessity that is deeply and inextricably tied to a person’s health. In order to live healthy lives, Georgians need stable, affordable housing.

New Juvenile Treatment Court divisions

Sponsored by Rep. Stan Gunter, HB 873, would provide alternative ways of handling juvenile delinquency and truancy cases with the creation of new Juvenile Treatment Court divisions within the juvenile court system.

These new court divisions aim to reduce family disruption or removal to an alternative placement and increase juvenile rehabilitation and treat their mental and behavioral health needs. 

HB 873 has been referred to the House Juvenile Justice committee.  

The EmPATH Georgia Act

HB 913, sponsored by Rep. Imani Barnes, within the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) would create emergency psychiatric assessment, treatment and healing (EmPATH) units within Georgia hospitals. 

When someone experiencing a “brief, intense crisis” arrives to a hospital they would be given immediate treatment for their situation and brought to a calming area. Other states with this immediate care have shown a reduced boarding costs and unnecessary hospitalizations

HB 931 has been referred to the House Public Health committee

Prohibiting discrimination against certain healthcare facilities and providers 

Introduced by Rep. Mandi Ballinger, HB 924 will prohibit insurers from discriminating against certain healthcare facilities and providers in connection with the administration of provider administered drugs. Provider administered drugs are medicines that cannot be self-administered by the patient or a caregiver. They are typically infused or injected by a health care provider in a physician’s office, clinic, infusion center, or hospital. Examples include some clotting factors for bleeding disorders and immunosuppresants used by transplant patients, among others.

This bill aims to ensure insurers will not be able to exclude coverage for a provider administered drug if not given out by a pharmacy selected by the health benefit plan. Some physicians purchase these drugs directly from the manufacturer or other source.

HB 924 is scheduled to be heard by the House Insurance Committee this week.

Drug Abuse Treatment and Education Programs

Introduced by Sen. Randy Robertson, SB 331, would provide definitions for certification of recovery residences and more oversight of these facilities – including more background checks on employees and further inspections from DCH. These inspections and trainings would ensure that the facilities aimed at improving Georgians’ mental health and substance use conditions are healthy, safe places for people to seek care.  

SB 331 has been referred to the Senate Health and Human committee.  

2024 General Assembly Calendar

Georgia’s General Assembly meetings and adjournments for 2024

The General Assembly adopted the full calendar for the rest of the 2024 legislative session. Two important dates to note: 

  • February 29th – 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. If bills do not meet this deadline, they are usually considered “dead” and unavailable for passage. 
  • March 28th – 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.

Advocate with us at the Capitol!

Check out these advocacy events: 

Each week during the legislative session, we’ll highlight legislative advocacy days hosted by partner groups. These are great opportunities for you to participate in the lawmaking process by meeting your legislators and speaking up about important health issues. Upcoming:

If you have an upcoming advocacy event that you’d like included, please contact Alex McDoniel at amcdoniel@healthyfuturega.org

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.

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