Legislative Update: $$$, this week’s advocacy opportunities & what’s next

Legislative Update: Week 2

General Assembly meets for joint budget hearings 
Photo of Georgia capitol

The Georgia General Assembly met last week for joint budget hearings. During “budget week” both the House and Senate heard from Governor Kemp and agency leaders about their requests for the current and upcoming state budgets. The General Assembly’s budgetary considerations consist of two parts:

1) Changes to the current FY 2021 state budget (sometimes called the “little budget”) which will run through June 30, 2021, and

2)  The FY 2022 general state budget (the “big budget”), which will begin on July 1, 2021.

After the agency presentations, the House will pull together the budget requests into legislation and continue to review funding requests.

Below we highlight some of the primary asks made by the state agencies that most impact consumer health, especially during the current health crisis. For more detailed budget analysis, please see the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute’s Overview of Georgia’s 2022 Fiscal Year Budget.

The General Assembly will reconvene tomorrow, January 26th for the fifth day of legislative session and will schedule future days of session in another resolution. 

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Legislative Update: Early budget preview, legislation, and opportunities for advocacy

Legislative Update: Week 1

The 2021 legislative session has begun
Picture of the Georgia capitol

Last week, the Georgia General Assembly convened for the first time in 2021. The first four days of the 2021 legislative session were held with additional COVID-19 safety protocols in place. The attentions of legislators were mostly taken up with committee appointments, (including a change in leadership for the Senate Insurance Committee from Sen. Burt Jones to Sen. Dean Burke), Governor Kemp’s third State of the State address, and other annual traditions, including GHF’s own Health Care Unscrambled

This week will be primarily dedicated to budget hearings for the current (FY 2021 Amended) and next year’s (FY 2022) state budgets. The General Assembly will reconvene on Tuesday, January 26th for the fifth day of legislative session.

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A consumer health advocates guide to the 2020 elections: U.S. Senate

Three images of people advocating for health care at the Capitol

During the run-off election period (Dec. 14, 2020 to Jan. 5, 2021) for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats, Georgians have the opportunity to learn more about these elected positions, their decision-making power, and how Georgia’s U.S. Senators impact our health and well-being . Voters’ decisions about our Senate candidates will have a tangible and long-running impact on our state’s recovery from COVID-19, health costs and insurance, and other important consumer health issues in Georgia.

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Gwinnett mother does it all with assistance from Medicaid transportation program

Ramatu and her four children smile and pose together for a picture.

Ramatu lives in Gwinnett County with her four children for whom Medicaid helps to meet their unique health needs. Medicaid provides a lifeline for Ramatu’s family and helps ensure that her children receive the health care they need. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 54% of Georgia children with special health care needs are covered by Medicaid. 

“Two of my kids are on straight Medicaid because of the severity of their disability. The other two, they are on what is called care services.”  –Ramatu

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Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies: Get to know Georgia’s Certified Peer Specialists


The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has damaged the mental health of many Georgians and exacerbated the use of alcohol and drugs. Financial stressors, the difficulties of parenting, and almost universal uncertainty brought about by COVID-19 have dramatically increased depression, anxiety, stress, and substance use among Georgians. Some will seek supports and services to manage their health, which may be provided in part by certified peer specialists.

Young man sits and speaks among support group

Certified peer specialists (CPS) provide support and education to individuals and families while they navigate mental health and/or substance use recovery supports and services. CPS have played a vital role in Georgia’s mental health and substance use recovery systems for over 20 years.

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GHF comments on six-month extension of postpartum Medicaid coverage proposal

During the 2020 Georgia legislative session, House Health & Human Services Chairwoman Sharon Cooper sponsored HB 1114. The bill allows eligible mothers to receive Medicaid coverage for six months after giving birth, up from the current 60-day limit.  

Currently pregnant women and new mothers are covered by Medicaid only up to 60 days after their birth or miscarriage. Georgia has very strict Medicaid eligibility rules for Georgia parents outside of this 60-day period and Georgia has not expanded Medicaid to other low-income adults. For these reasons, many mothers who try to apply for Medicaid after the 60-day period are ineligible and become uninsured.

Georgia’s alarming maternal mortality and morbidity outcomes prompted Georgia leaders to examine the problem and propose solutions. State leaders agreed that extending Medicaid coverage from 60-days postpartum to six months for women with incomes at or below 225% of the federal poverty level (FPL) would be a step in the right direction. This move improves access and consistent care during the more of the postpartum period.

Georgia’s Department of Community Health invited public comment on the proposal from October 8, 2020 to November 9, 2020. During this comment period, individuals and organizations were able to provide their input at two public hearings or in writing.

GHF offered its qualified support of the proposal. GHF urged the state to to go further by extending coverage to twelve months. We also recommended an expansion of Medicaid to all low-income adults. Both of these moves would optimize Medicaid’s benefits and access to care for women throughout the postpartum period and beyond. You can read GHF’s full comment letter here.


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Governor Kemp’s health care plans approved: What do they mean and what’s next

Both of Governor Kemp’s health care proposals were approved by federal health officials in the last two weeks. Unfortunately, both proposals fall short of the bold, evidence-based action that Georgians need their state leaders to take. These plans may impact you or people you know. While some details of the plans are still being sorted out, we have tried to answer some of your early questions here. As we learn more and these plans roll out, GHF will keep you updated with the information you need to get covered, stay covered, and help your loved ones do the same.

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New! Getting Georgia Covered 2020

Despite repeated claims otherwise, Georgia’s health insurance marketplace has proven to be resilient for consumers in our state. GHF examined the data about Georgia’s 2020 marketplace for our annual Getting Georgia Covered report. We found rising enrollment, lower premiums, and increased choices for consumers. This annual release tells the story of how Georgia individuals and families are faring in the health insurance marketplace. Explore the new interactive digital report to find out more about Georgia’s 2020 marketplace, how it differed from previous years, the Georgians who enrolled and costs of plans, and policy opportunities to increase enrollment, ensure access to care, address affordability, and protect consumers.


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Statement from GHF’s Executive Director on approval of Georgia Access waiver

Yesterday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced the approval of Georgia’s 1332 State Innovation waiver, title “Georgia Access”. Laura Colbert, Executive Director of Georgians for a Healthy Future has issued the following statement:

“Despite repeated attempts, Governor Kemp’s Georgia Access proposal still fails to explain how a shutdown of the most popular and streamlined health insurance enrollment platform in order to move to a decentralized, privatized enrollment system will address the challenges faced by Georgia consumers, especially those who remain uninsured.

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Sign up for 2021 health coverage before Dec. 15th!

Healthcare.gov is open for business from November 1 to December 15, 2020. Georgians can now shop for comprehensive, affordable health plans and enroll in coverage. Nine out of 10 Georgians qualify for financial help to lower their premiums and other costs! Make sure that you are covered in 2021!

Most Georgians who qualify for health insurance & financial help through the Affordable Care Act (also called “Obamacare”) are still uninsured. If you or people you know need more information about how health insurance works, how to enroll in coverage, or what to do after you have signed up, we have you covered! Check out and share these tools so you and your networks can get covered and stay covered:


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Jan 20, 2021
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