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GHF legislative update: March 18

Legislative Update: Week 10

In this week’s update:

  • Action alert: Close Georgia’s Coverage Gap!
  • Action alert: Send HB 404 to the floor for a vote! 
  • Action alert: Urge your Senator to say NO to HB 1170 new substitute language!
  • Legislation on the move: minimum wages for people with disabilities, naloxone, & more!
  • Join GHF’s new coalition!
  • GHF’s got you covered this session!

Action alert: Close Georgia’s coverage gap!

Make a difference by urging Georgia lawmakers to modify HB 1339 to close the coverage gap this year! 

While HB 1339 is primarily focused on the state’s regulation of hospitals, is also includes a provision that would establish a Comprehensive Health Coverage Commission to explore closing Georgia’s coverage gap in 2025 or 2026.

Last week the Senate approved HB 1339. Now a conference committee made up of lawmakers from both the House and Senate will come together to work out their differences on the bill. In this committee, lawmakers have the opportunity to change the bill so that it closes the gap this year, rather than simply studying the gap.

While the current version of HB 1339 shows legislative interest in finding a solution, our legislators have the power to close the coverage gap right now. Delayingaccess to health care for hardworking Georgians is costly for families, harms the state’s workforce, and strains rural hospitals. 

Please contact your lawmakers and urge them to modify HB 1339 so that it closes Georgia’s Medicaid coverage gap this year. Thank you for your advocacy!

Action alert: Send “Safe at Home Act” to the floor for a vote!

Let’s ensure quality housing for Georgia renters! 

The Safe at Home Act (HB 404) needs your help! As we approach the final days of the legislative session, HB 404 is still in the Senate Rules committee and has not received a vote by the full Senate. Please call Rules Committee members and ask for HB 404 to be brought up for a vote.  

This bill would strengthen the rights and protections of 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.

Ultimately, the Safe at Home Act would help families stay safely and stably housed. Housing is a basic necessity that is closely tied to a person’s health. When people experience housing instability, they can suffer more from health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and disabilities. Kids and parents may miss school and work because of unstable or unhealthy housing. 

Don’t know what to say? 

My name is ________. (If you live in their district, add “I live and vote in your district.”) Please send House Bill 404, the “Safe at Home Act,” to the floor of the Senate for a vote. This bill ensures that renters will live in safe, healthy units, sets a reasonable maximum security deposit amount, and sets fair housing protections for families. That’s something all Georgia families should be able to rely on no matter where they live in our state.

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. That is why I am asking you to send HB 404 to the Senate for a vote. Thank you very much!

Action alert: HB 1170 new substitute language would hurt Georgia youth!

Banning essential medical care for transgender youth

Last week, the Senate Health & Human Services committee took a good public health bill, HB 1170, and added new, harmful language to it. The bill changes would ban providers from prescribing medicines that temporarily pause puberty to Georgians under the age of 18. This form of puberty-delaying medicine helps give young people more time to mature and understand their gender so they can make important decisions about their health care. 

Every major U.S. medical and mental health organization–including the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and American Psychological Association–supports access to gender-affirming care (including puberty-delaying medicines) for transgender young people and adults.  

HB 1170 now sits in the Senate Rules Committee and we need your help to urge committee members to say NO to this hurtful amendment. 

Don’t know what to say? 

My name is ________. (If you live in their district, add “I live and vote in your district.”) Please vote NO on the amended version of HB 1170 that now includes an immediate ban on prescribed puberty delaying medications used by healthcare providers in the treatment of gender dysphoria. 

We all want what’s best for our kids. That’s why it’s so important for parents to make decisions about the health care that is right for their families and allows their kids to grow up healthy and safe. This amendment puts politicians between parents and providers, and could ban access to essential medical care for transgender young people. 

Every major U.S. medical and mental health organization supports access to medical care for transgender young people and adults, including puberty-delaying medicines. This amendment endangers transgender youth, their families, and the medical community as a whole by putting politics above expert medical recommendations. I urge you to oppose this harmful amendment. Thank you. 

Bills on the move

Eliminating subminimum wage for workers with disabilities

On Thursday, HB 1125 was passed by the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee. It now waits a “thumbs up” from the Rules Committee to receive a floor vote.

Under current law, people with disabilities can be paid less than the state-mandated minimum wage. The federal Fair Labor Standards Act allows employers who receive a special certificate from the Department of Labor to pay wages less than the federal minimum wage to workers who have disabilities. HB 1125, introduced by Rep. Sharon Cooper, would prohibit Georgia employers from using this loop-hole after July 1, 2026. 

Naloxone availability in schools and vending machines

Introduced by Senator Dixson, SB 395 allows students, staff, and visitors at school and school events to carry naloxone or other opioid “reversal” medicines. It would 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.

The House Education committee approved SB 395, and it currently awaits a full House vote.

A similar bill, HB 1035, is still waiting in the Senate Rules committee for a full Senate vote before passage. This bill would allow the sale of opioid antagonists, including naloxone, through vending machines to increase availability in communities. 

Preventing harm to people in need of care

Last Monday, the House Public Health Committee passed SB 456. The House Rules Committee will now determine if and when the bill will be scheduled for a House vote.

Introduced by Sen. Brian Strickland, SB 456 would allow Georgia’s Central Caregiver Registry to be used to screen people who are applying to be caregivers of people with disabilities. The Registry was originally created so that family members or guardians of elderly Georgians could see if potential caregiver workers had criminal backgrounds or other safety concerns that might put their loved one in danger.

Advocate with us!

Join GHF’s new coalition! 

Are you interested in working with Georgians for a Healthy Future to improve health outcomes for Georgians by defending local decision-making power? If so, you’d be a great fit for a new coalition GHF is establishing to protect local communities’ abilities to make decisions that improve the health and well-being of their residents.

Keep an eye out for more information and get excited to learn about new ways to support local voices.

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.

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GHF In The News

May 31, 2024
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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.