According to numbers provided Monday by Georgia Department of Human Services Sec. Candice Broce, about 1.7 million people still need their cases processed...While the state has yet to break down…
Legislative Update: Week 4
In this week’s update:
- Action Alert: Urge Senate Judicary Committee members to support HB 404!
- GHF remembers Rep. Richard Smith
- Legislation GHF is keeping up with
- Advocacy events for your calendar
- GHF’s got you covered this session!
Action Alert: Urge your Senators to support HB 404
Georgians deserve quality housing!
HB 404, introduced by Rep. Kasey Carpenter, 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 awaiting a hearing.
It is not certain that HB 404 will be approved by Judiciary Committee members, even though it is a practical, compromise bill. The bill will provide protections for tenants by ensuring:
- Residential rental properties are fit for human habitation;
- Cooling as a utility cannot be shut off after an order for eviction has been issued by the court;
- Allows a tenant three (3) business days following a written eviction notice to pay money that is due prior to a lawsuit seeking to evict them may be filed with the court; and
- Limiting landlords from requiring a security deposit that exceeds two months’ rent.
These protections are necessary to ensure Georgia renters have more housing stability for themselves and their families. Housing is a basic necessity that is closely tied to a person’s health. To live healthy lives, Georgians need stable, affordable, healthy housing. When people experience housing instability, they can suffer more from health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and disabilities. School attendance, learning, and work attendance can be compromised by unhealthy housing situations.
Please contact Senate Judiciary Committee members and ask them to support HB 404. Tell them why you support the bill and how housing & health are related. Start by calling one or more of these senators:
Bo Hatchett: 404-651-7745 | Mike Hodges: 404-463-1309
Bill Cowsert: 404- 463-1366 | John F. Kennedy: 404-656-6578
Ed Setzler: 404-656-0256 | Ben Watson: 404-656-7880
If you don’t know what to say when you reach out, use this example: “My name is ________. I live and vote in your district. Please support House Bill 404 when it comes to the Senate Judiciary Committee. This bill would provide fair housing protections to families, including by making sure all rental units are safe and healthy. This is especially important to help keep Georgia kids in school, out of foster care, and healthy in their communities. Thank you!”
(Want to know more about how housing & health are connected? Take a look at GHF’s Healthy Housing page.)
GHF remembers Representative Richard Smith
Legislation that GHF is tracking
Here are a few bills that we believe deserve your attention and the attention of legislators.
Hospital Medicaid Financing Program
HB 991, introduced by Rep. Shaw Blackmon, would extend the Hospital Medicaid Financing Program through June 30, 2030. This program requires hospitals pay a fee (based on their net revenues) to the Department of Community Health. These funds make up part of the state’s matching dollars for federal Medicaid funding. Without this program, Georgia would have to use more public tax dollars to fund Medicaid. The program is currently set to expire in 2025, so this bill simply extends that into 2030.
HB 991 was heard and approved by the House Appropriations committee’s Health Subcommittee on Wednesday.
Increased Hours for Parental Leave
Introduced by Rep. Jan Jones, HB 1010, would increase state employees’ paid parental leave from three weeks to six weeks. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists endorses paid leave for at least eight weeks, as paid parental leave has recognized benefits including decreased infant mortality, decreased rehospitalization rates, decreased post-partum depression and intimate partner violence.
HB 1010 was heard by the House Public Health committee last Tuesday. The committee approved the bill and it now sits in the House Rules committee before likely moving to a full vote by the House.
Early Testing for Preeclampsia
HB 1081, introduced by Rep. Darlene Taylor, would require insurers to cover preeclampsia biomarker testing during their first prenatal visit. The coverage would only be required for employer plans regulated by Georgia, which is a small slice of health plans in our state.
Preeclampsia is diagnosed by persistent high blood pressure that develops for the first time after mid-pregnancy or right after delivery. A test approved by the FDA just last year can help predict whether the person will develop severe preeclampsia in the next two weeks. The availability of these novel biomarker tests will allow caregivers to better manage and potentially improve outcomes for both mothers and their newborns.
GHF is exploring whether or not this test may already be covered by last year’s new biomarker law.
HB 1081 was referred to the House Public Health committee.
Narcan in schools
SB 395, introduced by Senator Dixson, authorizes the possession of naloxone and other opioid “reversal” medicines by students, staff, and visitors at school and school events. It will require that all school systems – both public and private – acquire and have naloxone available. Naloxone is a safe and effective way to save lives when a person is overdosing from opioids.
Naloxone in schools is supported by the National Association of School Nurses as a part of emergency response preparedness plans for schools. The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recommends that schools (including elementary schools) keep naloxone on hand as fatal opioid overdoses rise, particularly from the potent drug fentanyl.
SB 395 has been referred to the Senate Education and Youth committee. GHF enthusiastically supports this bill!
Certificate of Need Requirements
SB 442, sponsored by Sen. David Lucas, would eliminate certificate of need (CON) requirements for hospitals and other health facilities in rural areas (specifically counties with a population of less than 35,000).
CON is a program that evaluates the need for new hospitals or clinics. Without a CON, hospitals and clinics cannot open new locations or expand. CON is a complex issue, but supporters of repealing CON argue that removing the CON requirement would increase competition and thus drive down prices for consumers. However, hospitals argue that without CON, hospitals would face increased financial stress and may ultimately close. They also argue that in some parts of the state, opening additional hospitals would cause an increase in staffing shortages as more hospitals compete from an already depleted workforce.
SB 442 has been referred to the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities committee.
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:
- February 8: Mental Health Parity Day at the Capitol with The Carter Center Mental Health Program and the Georgia Parity Collaborative
- February 12: Georgia Community Health Worker Awareness Day 2024 with Georgia Watch
- February 13: Working Women’s Agenda Lobby Day with 9to5
- Febrary 26: Medicaid Expansion Advocacy Day with Cover Georgia
- February 28: 2024 Housing Day at the Capitol with Georgia Advancing Communities Together, Inc. (ACT)
If you have an upcoming advocacy event that you’d like included, please contact Alex McDoniel at email@example.com.
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