More money could be a big help for problems Georgia has struggled with since before the pandemic, including high maternal mortality and prevalence of substance abuse and HIV infection, said…
Tag: comment period
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.
Legislative update: Week 3
Georgia House continues budget considerations
Last week the Georgia House of Representatives resumed its budget hearings in earnest. The House Appropriations subcommittee on Health met on Tuesday to hear more from state agency leaders about their amended FY2020 budget requests. The FY2020 budget runs through June 30, 2020, and is sometimes called the “little budget”.
It was clear during last week’s hearings that the House may not simply agree to the budget cuts requested by Governor Kemp. Many Appropriations committee members expressed concerns about how the agencies’ proposed cuts would impact access to health care in rural Georgia, the availability of mental health and substance use services, and other critical health services and supports.
Both chambers will reconvene today, February 3rd, for the tenth day of the legislative session. Before scrolling to the latest news on emerging bills and other happenings under the Gold Dome, don’t forget to tell officials what you think of Governor Kemp’s Medicaid plan. The comment deadline is this Friday.
Less than a week to go!
The comment period ends on Friday! Take action now!
Before the legislative session began, Governor Kemp filed paperwork with health officials in the federal government to move forward with their plans to change Medicaid and private insurance in Georgia. Now those health officials need your input, beginning with the Medicaid plan!
Governor Kemp’s Medicaid plan will leave thousands of low-income Georgians with no meaningful way to get health insurance. Instead of expanding Medicaid to cover 490,000 Georgians, this plan would cover only 50,000 people and cost three times more per person.
We need you to step up AGAIN and become a health care hero by telling national officials what you think of the Medicaid plan! The deadline for comment is Friday, February 7th. Visit coverGA.org to comment today!
Did you submit a comment in November? Please submit a comment again so federal officials can hear directly from you.
Senate starts with prescription drugs & price transparency
SB 313: Updating how Georgia regulates pharmacy benefit managers
Senator Dean Burke has introduced SB 313, a law that would update Georgia’s oversight of pharmacy benefit managers and add important consumer protections. Pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) are companies that manage prescription drug benefits on behalf of health insurers, and are a new favorite focus of policy makers who want to address rising health care costs.
SB 313 requires PBMs to charge health insurers the same price for a drug as it receives from the drug manufacturer and that PBMs pass all rebates from the manufacturer to the health plan. (Ideally, these savings are then passed along to consumers.) The bill also disallows PBMS from building drug formularies (lists of covered medicines) in a way that discriminates against people with prescription drug needs. The bill also strengthens the Insurance Commissioner’s ability to hold PBMs accountable to state laws and regulations.
This bill is complex and GHF will continue to report on it through the legislative session. The bill has been referred to the Senate Insurance Committee.
SB 303: Georgia Right to Shop Act
SB 303 would require that health insurers to put on their website an interactive feature that allows consumers to estimate their out of pocket costs for a particular health care service and compare quality metrics between providers, among other things. Insurers would also have to provide a phone number that consumers can call to get the same information. The legislation is sponsored by Senator Ben Watson, Chairman of the Senate Health & Human Services committee. It has been referred to the Senate Insurance Committee and is expected to be heard this week.
Focus on nicotine & tobacco continues
Legislation would tax vaping products
Representative Bonnie Rich introduced HB 864 last week, which would add a 7% excise tax to vaping products and would require businesses that sell vaping products to register with the state for a $250 fee. This bill is one of at least three pieces of legislation that would change how Georgia taxes and regulates tobacco or other nicotine products. HB 731, sponsored by Rep. Ron Stephens, would raise Georgia’s tobacco tax to $1.87 from its current level of $0.37. SB 298, sponsored by Sen. Renee Unterman, would increase the age that Georgians are allowed to purchase tobacco products to 21 years of age, among other things.
Both House Bills have been referred to the House Ways & Means committee and SB 298 has been referred to the Senate Regulated Industries committee.
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, we have the tools you need to stay in touch with health policy under the Gold Dome.