Keeping Current @ the Capitol – Thanking Our Legislators!

This legislative session came with a number of challenges but ended with great wins. We want to thank and recognize the legislative champions that worked to pass legislation and protect funds needed to improve Georgia’s maternal and infant health. 

2020 Legislative Session Wins

The Georgia 2020 legislative session was one for the books and ended with a number of wins for moms and babies across the state. After a suspended session, adjusting to the COVID-19 pandemic, and weathering budget cuts we were able to see the following victories for maternal and infant health: 

  • HB 1114: extends Pregnancy Medicaid coverage to six months postpartum 
  • HB 1090: Requires employers to provide break time for employees to express breast milk
  • SB 408: Extends the Family Care Act, which allows employees to use sick time to care for immediate family members, to 2023 
  • SB 375: Adds a 7% tax on vaping products, which is estimated to generate $50 million in additional revenue for Georgia 
  • $19.7 million allocated for postpartum Medicaid extension to six months
  • $3.61 million retained in the state budget for vital maternal health programs

Thanking Our Legislative Champions

The following legislators worked hard during this difficult session to ensure that maternal and infant health policies were prioritized. Please take the time to email them and let them know that their efforts are greatly appreciated! Below you can find their contact information and language to use (click each name). 

Do not send group emails. Each legislator should receive an individual thank you email with their legislative aide copied. This is just a template. Feel free to make the message your own!

Postpartum Medicaid Extension 

Funding of Maternal Health Initiatives

Lactation Workplace Accommodations 

Family Care Extension 

Vaping Tax

Tobacco Tax

Paid Parental Leave 

Find your legislators

2020 Legislative Session Wrap Up

Georgia General Assembly Sine Die

After a suspended session, adjusting to the COVID-19 pandemic, and weathering budget cuts Georgia’s 2020 legislative session ended on June 26, 2020. Below is a summary of what happened. 

Maternal Health Items Restored

As reported in the the last Keeping Current @ the Capitol® issue, a number of maternal health items were in jeopardy after the Governor’s call for 11% state agency budget cuts. Cuts were called due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Georgia’s economy and projected revenue shortfall. 

On June 25, 2020 the Joint Appropriations Conference Committee released the updated FY2021 budgetwhich restored funding to a significant majority of maternal health initiatives! Below are the items that were restored to provide much needed services to moms and babies in Georgia. 

  • $2 million for Maternal Mortality Prevention (3678) 
  • $1.05 million for Maternal Mental Health Program (3674) 
  • $500,000 for Morehouse School of Medicine Center for Maternal Health Equity (1444) 
  • $60,000 restored for HMHBGA Information & Referral Services (3811) 

The $600,000 cut to the Rural Perinatal Satellites (funded during the 2019 session) was retained. However, HMHBGA is continuing to find ways to expand effective maternal and infant health services in rural Georgia communities. 

We are grateful to the members of Joint Appropriations Conference Committee and the Senate & House Budget Offices for ensuring that these funds were fully restored. We would also like to thank the following partners for their continued advocacy in retaining these funds.

  • American College of Nurse-Midwives, Georgia Chapter
  • Center for Reproductive Rights
  • Emory University
  • Georgia Nurses Association
  • Georgia OB/Gyn Society
  • Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia
  • Majaica, LLC
  • March of Dimes, Georgia Chapter
  • Morehouse School of Medicine
  • Nurse-Family Partnership

Postpartum Medicaid Extension: House Bill 1114 Passes with Full Funding

Last week, the Georgia House and Senate unanimously passed HB 1114. The bill will extend pregnancy Medicaid coverage from the current 60 day period to six months postpartum. $19.7 million dollars was allocated in the FY2021 budget to fully fund the extension of coverage. HB 1114 will now be sent to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law! 

Thank you to the following organizations who worked diligently to ensure postpartum Medicaid extension became a reality for Georgia’s moms. 

Updates on HMHBGA Supported Bills 

HMHBGA supported a number of bills related to extension of postpartum careworkplace accommodations, and tobacco/vaping taxes. Below is a summary of where these bills stand after Sine Die. 

The following bills passed and are on the way to the Governor for consideration: 

HB 1090 Workplace Break Time to Express Breast Milk
(Silcox, R-Sandy Springs) Would require employers to provide reasonable break time to an employee who needs breast milk for their nursing child. 

HB 1114 Pregnancy Medicaid Coverage to Six Months Postpartum 
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) Would allow the Department of Community Health to apply for an 1115 Waiver to extend Pregnancy Medicaid to six months after delivery.

SB 375 Cigarettes and Tobacco Products Relating to Minors
(Mullis, R-Chickamauga) Would add a 7% tax on vaping products and provide penalties for the sale and distribution of vaping and nicotine products for people under the age of 21. 

SB 408 Family Care Act Sunset Removal 
(Strickland, R-McDonough) Would extend the sunset date of the Family Care Act, which allows employees use of sick leave for care of immediate family members, to 2023. Also, updated to include provisions and benefits to the unemployment insurance program. 

The following did not pass this legislative session: 

SB 327 Workplace Break Time to Express Breast Milk
(Karinshak, D-Duluth) Would require employers to provide reasonable break time to an employee who needs breast milk for their nursing child. 
Was not heard by the House HHS Committee for consideration.

HB 882 Tobacco Tax Increase 
(Houston, R-Nashville) Would raise the tobacco tax from 37 cents to $1.35 per pack. 
Passed Senate Finance Committee but was not called to Senate Chamber for a full vote.  

HB 1094 Paid Parental Leave for State Employees
(Gaines, R-Athens) Would provide three weeks of paid parental leave for state employees. Leave would be provided for the birth of a child, or foster placement of a child. 
Senate changed bill to pass a pay cut for legislators and the Lieutenant Governor. House disagreed to changes and the original bill language was never restored. 

2020 Legislative Session Wrap Up 

The following bills are on their way to the Governor for his consideration: 

HB 789 Surprise Bill Rating System
(Mark Newton, R-Augusta) Would provide for the creation of a surprise bill rating system and require insurers include hospital surprise bill ratings online and in print.

HB 888Surprise Billing Consumer Protection Act
(Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville) Would provide protection for consumers from surprise medical bills. 

HB 993 Vital Records Relating to Child Abuse Reports
(Katie Dempsey, R-Rome) Would provide vital records reports to the Division of Family and Children Services for cases involving child abuse or neglect. Vital records could include birth, death, and father registry data. 

HB 1090 Workplace Break Time to Express Breast Milk
(Deborah Silcox, R-Sandy Springs) Would require employers to provide reasonable break time to an employee who needs to express breast milk for her nursing child. 

HB 1114 Pregnancy Medicaid Coverage to Six Months Postpartum 
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) Would allow the Department of Community Health to apply for an 1115 Waiver to extend Pregnancy Medicaid to six months after delivery. 

SB 303 Georgia Right to Shop Act
(Ben Watson, R-Savannah) Would provide for the disclosure of certain pricing information through insurer websites to allow consumers to compare prices on non-emergency healthcare services. 

SB 359 Surprise Billing Consumer Protection Act
(Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome) Would provide for certain consumer protections against surprise billing and mechanisms to resolve payment disputes between insurers and out-of-network providers. 

SB 372 Public Health Updates
(Blake Tillery, R-Vidalia) Would modernize, clarify, and update provisions relating to public health. For example, updating terminology related to sexually transmitted diseases and create an Office of Women’s Health. 

SB 375 Cigarettes and Tobacco Products Relating to Minors
(Mullis, R-Chickamauga) Would add a 7% tax on vaping products and provide penalties for selling and distribution of vaping and nicotine products for people under the age of 21. 

SB 391 Early Prescription Refills During Emergencies Act
(Kay Kirkpatrick, R-Marietta) Would require health insurance companies to cover early refills of a 30 day prescription supply for emergency situations. 

SB 408 Family Care Act Sunset Removal 
(Strickland, R-McDonough) Would extend the sunset date of the Family Care Act, which allows employees use of sick leave for care of immediate family members, to 2023. Also, updated to include provisions and benefits to the unemployment insurance program. 

SR 520 Senate Study Committee on Midwifery Practices
(Lester Jackson, D-Savannah) Would create a study committee to assess regulation of community midwives. 

The following bills did not move forward this legislative session: 

HB 719 Modernization of HIV Laws

(Deborah Silcox, R-Sandy Springs) Would update the current crimes and offenses statutes related to HIV transmission. Specifically decriminalizes the unintentional transmission of HIV. 

HB 881 Safe Place for Newborns Act
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) Would implement newborn safety incubators where mothers can place their newborns to prevent injury or death related to abandonment.

HB 958 The Maternity Supportive Housing Act
(Ed Setzler, R-Acworth) Would provide maternity supportive housing for pregnant and postpartum women up to 18 months after delivery.

HB 1054 Newborn Screening for Various Disorders 
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) Would revise provisions related to newborn screening for various disorders. Would also create a Newborn Screening and Genetics Advisory Committee to review and make recommendations for newly added disorders.

HB 1094 Paid Parental Leave for State Employees
(Gaines, R-Athens) Would provide three weeks of paid parental leave for state employees. Leave would be provided for the birth of a child, or foster placement of a child. 

HB 1251 Georgia Licensed Midwife Act
(Karen Mathiak, R-Griffin) Would provide licensure and regulation of midwives and create the Advisory Group for Licensed Midwives. Would also provide exceptions to the operation of “Georgia Registered Professional Nurse Practice Act” to allow for the practice of midwifery.

SB 307 The Living Hope Home Act
(Renee Unterman, R-Buford) Would provide supportive housing for pregnant and postpartum women up to 18 months after delivery. 

SB 327 Workplace Break Time to Express Breast Milk
(Zahra Karinshak, D-Duluth) Would require employers to provide reasonable break time to an employee who needs to express breast milk for her nursing child. 

HR 1168 House Study Committee on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
(Sam Park, D-Lawrenceville) Would create a study committee to assess the affects of ACEs to improve maternal and child health.

HR 1248 House Study Committee on Infant and Maternal Mortality Among African Americans
(Jasmine Clark, D-Lilburn) Would create a study committee to assess mortality among African American infants and mothers.

HR 1478 Parity for Breast Pump Supplies
(Karla Drenner, D-Avondale Estates) Would support parity for breast pump collection and storage supplies. 

SR 263 Senate Emergency Medical Services Study Committee
(Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga) Would establish a Senate study committee to conduct a  review of emergency medical services safety standards, accreditation requirements, zoning for 9-1-1 response, and updates to the regulations and Title 31, relating to Georgia Code requirements for emergency medical services.

Upcoming Advocacy Events

The 2020 Legislative Session Overview is a one-hour training on the 2020 Georgia legislative session. This webinar will feature everything you need to know about legislation surrounding infant and maternal health in the state of Georgia. If you’re a birth advocate, healthcare professional, or simply a concerned community member, you don’t want to miss this training!

Register Here

Please join us on August 14, 2020 from 9 AM to 12 PM as we plan out our 2021 Advocacy Agenda to improve maternal and child health in Georgia. This event is open to all HMHBGA members in good standing, organizational partners, and invited stakeholders. The meeting will take place via Zoom video conference

Anyone is welcome to become an HMHBGA member by signing up here.

Not sure if your membership is active? Email us at thecoaliton@hmhbga.org

AGENDA:

I. 2020 Legislative Recap 

II. What We Expect in 2021– Threats, Challenges & Opportunities

III. Partner Priorities: Impacting Maternal & Child Health in the Next Legislative Session

IV. Planning for: HMHBGA Legislative Breakfast & Capitol Awareness Day

V. Other agenda items

Register Here

Action Alert – Support Tobacco Tax Increase

Contact members (see below) of the Senate Rules Committee and ask them to support HB 882 to increase the tobacco tax to $1.35 per pack. 

Contact These Legislators

In response to the current pandemic, state agencies have been asked to cut their budgets by 11%, which affects a number of critical maternal health services. Additional revenue from this tax increase could greatly reduce or eliminate these cuts. Let Senators know that you support an increase in the tobacco tax as a way to increase state revenue to help Georgia avoid cutting funds for programs needed by families during this time. 

If you live in the following districts (find here), email Amber Mack at amber.mack@hmhbga.org. 

  • Chickamauga (53) 
  • Gainesville (49) 
  • Macon (18) 
  • Carrollton (30) 
  • Alpharetta (21) 
  • Newnan (28)
  • Athens (46) 

Keeping Current @ the Capitol – Week of June 8, 2020

Georgia General Assembly Expected to Resume June 15

The Georgia General Assembly plans to return to session on June 15. The legislative session was suspended on March 13 (legislative day 29) due to concerns about the potential spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Virtual and in-person committee meetings began in May and will continue before the start of session. Learn more about the session reconvening here.

Budget Cuts Impact on Maternal Mortality Prevention

The current COVID-19 pandemic coupled with Georgia’s maternal mortality crisis has brought a range of concerns highlighting the need for continued access to medical care in the postpartum period. The changing environment caused by the pandemic may complicate issues facing new mothers. Due to our overwhelmed healthcare system, access to preventive and postpartum care is limited, which may have long-term effects for Georgia’s mothers and babies. Additionally, isolation related to social distancing may affect perinatal anxiety and depression especially when caring for a new baby. 
In response to revenue shortfalls, state agencies were originally told they had to cut their budgets by 14%, which was later reduced to 11%, no exceptions. The state budget for fiscal year 2021 (July 2021-June 2022) must be approved and passed before June 30, with adjustments made as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Agencies are also expecting to use federal block grants to reduce state funds. Below are some of the proposed cuts that will affect Georgia’s maternal mortality prevention efforts.

  • $1.5 million in Maternal Mortality Prevention (line 243.3
  • $1,047,540 in the Maternal Mental Health Program (line 243.4)
  • $600,000 in Rural Perinatal Satellites (line 249.1
  • $4,455,484 in Morehouse School of Medicine operating grant which will affect the Center for Maternal Health Equity (line 99.1)

The current COVID-19 pandemic coupled with Georgia’s maternal mortality crisis has brought a range of concerns highlighting the need for continued access to medical care in the postpartum period. The changing environment caused by the pandemic may complicate issues facing new mothers. Due to our overwhelmed healthcare system, access to preventive or postpartum care is limited, which may have long-term effects for Georgia’s mothers and babies. Below are some of the maternal mortality prevention initiatives HMHBGA supports:

  • Maternal Mortality Prevention: Implements recommendations from the Maternal Mortality Review Committee including addressing severe hypertension and hemorrhage (leading causes of pregnancy-related death).
  • Maternal Mental Health Program: Would provide resources, referrals, and psychiatric consultations to providers of pregnant and postpartum women as well as train providers to screen, refer and treat maternal mental health disorders in rural and underserved areas.
  • Rural Perinatal Satellites: Support maternal infant health services in rural Georgia through prenatal/postpartum education, support services, breastfeeding support, and the provision of needed maternal and infant supplies.
  • Center for Maternal Health Equity at Morehouse School of Medicine: Resource center for training of providers, students on comorbidities contributing to maternal mortality, and implementing best practices/safety bundles. Would also engage and train local communities on maternal mortality prevention.

What Can You Do to Help?
You can contact your state elected officials (find here) to advocate for the restoration of maternal health funds and support for postpartum Medicaid extension. Call or email your Representative and Senator to ask for the following:

  • Restoration of $1.5 million for the Maternal Mortality Prevention Program
  • Restoration of $1,047,540 for the Maternal Mental Health Program
  • $500,000 appropriation to support Morehouse School of Medicine’s Center for Maternal Health Equity
  • Support for HB 1114 (Pregnancy Medicaid Extension to Six Months) and inclusion of the $19.7 million allocation in the state budget

What Can We Expect?

The state budget for fiscal year 2021 (July 2021-June 2022) must be approved and passed before June 30, with adjustments made as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the Georgia General Assembly reconvening June 11, it is still unclear which bills will be considered. The legislature may take on a limited number of priority or time sensitive bills. Below are a number of bills HMHBGA supports that may be considered in June. 

  • HB 1114 (Cooper, R-Marietta) Pregnancy Medicaid Extension to Six Months
  • HB 1090 (Silcox, R-Sandy Springs) Workplace Break Time to Express Breast Milk
  • HB 1094 (Gaines, R-Athens) Paid Parental Leave for State Employees
  • SB 327 (Karinshak, D-Duluth) Workplace Break Time to Express Breast Milk
  • SB 375 (Mullis, R-Chickamauga) Cigarettes and Tobacco Products Relating to Minors
  • SB 408 (Strickland, R-McDonough) Family Care Act Sunset Removal 
  • Funds maintained related to maternal mortality reduction initiatives retained in the supplemental FY20 budget
  • $19.7 million in the proposed FY21 budget for Pregnancy Medicaid extension to six months

2020 HMHBGA Legislative & Policy Agenda

The link below will take you to our official 2020 legislative agenda. The items below are bills we are monitoring throughout the session. Legislation on this list is not necessarily endorsed by HMHBGA. 

House Bills Still in Play

HB 719– Modernization of HIV Laws
(Deborah Silcox, R-Sandy Springs) Would update the current crimes and offenses statutes related to HIV transmission. Specifically decriminalizes the unintentional transmission of HIV. [House Health & Human Services Committee] 

HB 789 – Surprise Bill Rating System
(Mark Newton, R-Augusta) Would provide for the creation of a surprise bill rating system and require insurers include hospital surprise bill ratings online and in print. [Senate Health & Human Services] 

HB 881– Safe Place for Newborns Act
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) Would implement newborn safety incubators where mothers can place their newborns to prevent injury or death related to abandonment. [Health & Human Services]

HB 888 – Surprise Billing Consumer Protection Act
(Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville) Would provide protection for consumers from surprise medical bills. [Senate Health & Human Services] 

HB 958 – The Maternity Supportive Housing Act
(Ed Setzler, R-Acworth) Would provide maternity supportive housing for pregnant and postpartum women up to 18 months after delivery. [House Juvenile Justice Committee]

HB 993 – Vital Records Relating to Child Abuse Reports
(Katie Dempsey, R-Rome) Would provide vital records reports to the Division of Family and Children Services for cases involving child abuse or neglect. Vital records could include birth, death, and father registry data. [House Juvenile Justice Committee] 

HB 1054– Newborn Screening for Various Disorders 
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) Would revise provisions related to newborn screening for various disorders. Would also create a Newborn Screening and Genetics Advisory Committee to review and make recommendations for newly added disorders. [House Health & Human Services]  

HB 1090– Workplace Break Time to Express Breast Milk
(Deborah Silcox, R-Sandy Springs) Would require employers to provide reasonable break time to an employee who needs to express breast milk for her nursing child. [House Health & Human Services]
 
HB 1094– Paid Parental Leave for State Employees
(Houston Gaines, R-Athens) Would provide three weeks of paid parental leave for state employees. Leave would be provided for the birth of a child, adoption of a child, or foster placement of a child. [Senate Insurance & Labor] 

HB 1114– Pregnancy Medicaid Coverage to Six Months Postpartum 
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) Would allow the Department of Community Health to apply for an 1115 Waiver to extend Pregnancy Medicaid to six months after delivery. [Senate Health & Human Services]

Senate Bills Still in Play

SB 303– Georgia Right to Shop Act
(Ben Watson, R-Savannah) Would provide for the disclosure of certain pricing information through insurer websites to allow consumers to compare prices on non-emergency healthcare services. [House Special Committee On Access to Quality Health Care] 

SB 307– The Living Hope Home Act
(Renee Unterman, R-Buford) Would provide supportive housing for pregnant and postpartum women up to 18 months after delivery. [House Health & Human Services Committee] 

SB 327– Workplace Break Time to Express Breast Milk
(Zahra Karinshak, D-Duluth) Would require employers to provide reasonable break time to an employee who needs to express breast milk for her nursing child. [Senate Insurance & Labor Committee] 

SB 359– Surprise Billing Consumer Protection Act
(Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome) Would provide for certain consumer protections against surprise billing and mechanisms to resolve payment disputes between insurers and out-of-network providers. [House Special Committee On Access to Quality Health Care] 

SB 372 – Public Health Updates
(Blake Tillery, R-Vidalia) Would modernize, clarify, and update provisions relating to public health. For example, updating terminology related to sexually transmitted diseases and create an Office of Women’s Health. [House Health & Human Services] 

SB 375 – Cigarettes and Tobacco Products Relating to Minors
(Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga) Would provide penalties for people under the age of 21 for selling and distribution of vaping and nicotine products for people under the age of 21. Would also define vapor products. [Regulated Industries and Utilities] 

SB 391– Early Prescription Refills During Emergencies Act
(Kay Kirkpatrick, R-Marietta) Would require health insurance companies to cover early refills of a 30 day prescription supply for emergency situations. [House Special Committee On Access to Quality Health Care] 

SB 408– Family Care Act Sunset Removal 
(Brian Strickland, R-McDonough) Would remove the sunset date the Family Care Act, which allows employees use of sick leave for care of immediate family members. Without the removal of the sunset, the Family Care Act would be repealed on July 1, 2020. 

Find Your Legislator

Keeping Current @ the Capitol – Week of May 11, 2020

Georgia General Assembly Expected to Resume June 11

The Georgia General Assembly plans to return to session on June 11. The legislative session was suspended on March 13 (legislative day 29) due to concerns about the potential spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Virtual and in-person committee meetings will be held throughout this month. On May 7, the Joint Appropriations Committee met to discuss the fiscal impact of COVID-19, which you can watch here. Learn more about the session reopening here.

What Can We Expect?

The state budget for fiscal year 2021 (July 2021-June 2022) must be approved and passed before June 30, with adjustments made as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. On May 1, state agencies were told they had to cut their budgets by 14%, no exceptions.
With the Georgia General Assembly reconvening June 11, it is still unclear which bills will be considered. The legislature may take on a limited number of priority or time sensitive bills. Below are a number of bills HMHBGA supports that may be considered in June. 

  • HB 1114 (Cooper, R-Marietta) Pregnancy Medicaid Extension to Six Months
  • HB 1090 (Silcox, R-Sandy Springs) Workplace Break Time to Express Breast Milk
  • HB 1094 (Gaines, R-Athens) Paid Parental Leave for State Employees
  • SB 327 (Karinshak, D-Duluth) Workplace Break Time to Express Breast Milk
  • SB 375 (Mullis, R-Chickamauga) Cigarettes and Tobacco Products Relating to Minors
  • SB 408 (Strickland, R-McDonough) Family Care Act Sunset Removal 
  • Funds maintained related to maternal mortality reduction initiatives retained in the supplemental FY20 budget
  • $19.7 million in the proposed FY21 budget for Pregnancy Medicaid extension to six months

2020 HMHBGA Legislative & Policy Agenda

The link below will take you to our official 2020 legislative agenda. The items below are bills we are monitoring throughout the session. Legislation on this list is not necessarily endorsed by HMHBGA. 

House Bills Still in Play

HB 719– Modernization of HIV Laws
(Deborah Silcox, R-Sandy Springs) Would update the current crimes and offenses statutes related to HIV transmission. Specifically decriminalizes the unintentional transmission of HIV. [House Health & Human Services Committee] 

HB 789 – Surprise Bill Rating System
(Mark Newton, R-Augusta) Would provide for the creation of a surprise bill rating system and require insurers include hospital surprise bill ratings online and in print. [Senate Health & Human Services] 

HB 881– Safe Place for Newborns Act
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) Would implement newborn safety incubators where mothers can place their newborns to prevent injury or death related to abandonment. [Health & Human Services]

HB 888 – Surprise Billing Consumer Protection Act
(Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville) Would provide protection for consumers from surprise medical bills. [Senate Health & Human Services] 

HB 958 – The Maternity Supportive Housing Act
(Ed Setzler, R-Acworth) Would provide maternity supportive housing for pregnant and postpartum women up to 18 months after delivery. [House Juvenile Justice Committee]

HB 993 – Vital Records Relating to Child Abuse Reports
(Katie Dempsey, R-Rome) Would provide vital records reports to the Division of Family and Children Services for cases involving child abuse or neglect. Vital records could include birth, death, and father registry data. [House Juvenile Justice Committee] 

HB 1054– Newborn Screening for Various Disorders 
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) Would revise provisions related to newborn screening for various disorders. Would also create a Newborn Screening and Genetics Advisory Committee to review and make recommendations for newly added disorders. [House Health & Human Services]  

HB 1090– Workplace Break Time to Express Breast Milk
(Deborah Silcox, R-Sandy Springs) Would require employers to provide reasonable break time to an employee who needs to express breast milk for her nursing child. [House Health & Human Services]
 
HB 1094– Paid Parental Leave for State Employees
(Houston Gaines, R-Athens) Would provide three weeks of paid parental leave for state employees. Leave would be provided for the birth of a child, adoption of a child, or foster placement of a child. [Senate Insurance & Labor] 

HB 1114– Pregnancy Medicaid Coverage to Six Months Postpartum 
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) Would allow the Department of Community Health to apply for an 1115 Waiver to extend Pregnancy Medicaid to six months after delivery. [Senate Health & Human Services]

Senate Bills Still in Play

SB 303– Georgia Right to Shop Act
(Ben Watson, R-Savannah) Would provide for the disclosure of certain pricing information through insurer websites to allow consumers to compare prices on non-emergency healthcare services. [House Special Committee On Access to Quality Health Care] 

SB 307– The Living Hope Home Act
(Renee Unterman, R-Buford) Would provide supportive housing for pregnant and postpartum women up to 18 months after delivery. [House Health & Human Services Committee] 

SB 327– Workplace Break Time to Express Breast Milk
(Zahra Karinshak, D-Duluth) Would require employers to provide reasonable break time to an employee who needs to express breast milk for her nursing child. [Senate Insurance & Labor Committee] 

SB 359– Surprise Billing Consumer Protection Act
(Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome) Would provide for certain consumer protections against surprise billing and mechanisms to resolve payment disputes between insurers and out-of-network providers. [House Special Committee On Access to Quality Health Care] 

SB 372 – Public Health Updates
(Blake Tillery, R-Vidalia) Would modernize, clarify, and update provisions relating to public health. For example, updating terminology related to sexually transmitted diseases and create an Office of Women’s Health. [House Health & Human Services] 

SB 375 – Cigarettes and Tobacco Products Relating to Minors
(Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga) Would provide penalties for people under the age of 21 for selling and distribution of vaping and nicotine products for people under the age of 21. Would also define vapor products. [Regulated Industries and Utilities] 

SB 391– Early Prescription Refills During Emergencies Act
(Kay Kirkpatrick, R-Marietta) Would require health insurance companies to cover early refills of a 30 day prescription supply for emergency situations. [House Special Committee On Access to Quality Health Care] 

SB 408– Family Care Act Sunset Removal 
(Brian Strickland, R-McDonough) Would remove the sunset date the Family Care Act, which allows employees use of sick leave for care of immediate family members. Without the removal of the sunset, the Family Care Act would be repealed on July 1, 2020. 

Find Your Legislator

Additional Resource for Georgia Doulas

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many counties and cities have implemented local curfew orders. These orders may affect birth workers including doulas, who may not be officially recognized as essential workers. This is an issue for doulas who may be traveling past curfew to attend a birth or appointment. The following letter can be used by doulas who may be stopped after curfew. It outlines the purpose of travel, what a doula is, and why they are essential to birth work. The letter can also be downloaded below.

To Whom It May Concern,

The holder of this letter is a doula, which is critical birth worker and part of a patient’s birth team. They should be exempt from COVID-19 restrictions including stay at home orders and curfews when going to or returning from a birth, appointment, or home visit.

A doula is a trained professional that offers necessary services by providing emotional and other support throughout the prenatal, birth, and postpartum period to mothers and their families. Doulas positively impact maternal and infant health in a number of ways, including:

  • Lower rates of C-sections
  • Breastfeeding promotion
  • Lower rates of premature and low birthweight deliveries
  • Higher patient satisfaction of overall birth experience

Doulas are a necessary resource especially during this time of stress and confusion that both families and providers are experiencing. Doulas can stay with families throughout the laboring process to keep them calm as many providers are being overwhelmed with increasing demand as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Download Letter Here

Policy Brief: How Georgia Hospitals are Serving Pregnant Patients During COVID-19

In an effort to protect patients and slow the spread of the COVID-19, many hospitals across the country are limiting the number of support people birthing persons can have in the delivery room. In Georgia, hospital policies are being updated as the pandemic continues to unfold. Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia reached out to 76 Georgia hospitals (from 3/27/20 to 4/9/20) with labor & delivery units regarding their current delivery room visitor policy and prenatal education class offerings in response to COVID-19.

We were able to reach 73 hospitals willing to share their current policies. Overall, 90.4% (n= 66) of hospitals had a strict one visitor limit and 87.7% (n= 64) did not allow swapping of visitors. There were some exceptions for doulas and a few hospitals allowed two visitors (see details below). Only nine hospitals were offering online prenatal education in some format at the time of call. An additional eight were considering adding online prenatal education in the near future.

As a note, these policies may have changed since we contacted these labor & delivery hospitals. Data on prenatal education offerings were not available for all hospitals. We encourage expectant families to call their hospital or provider directly and ask about their current visitor or doula policies as well as prenatal education classes.

Below are the known policies of the 73 hospitals that provided data:

Delivery room visitor policy (N = 73)

  • Sixty-six (90.4%) hospitals had a one visitor limit,  and defined doulas as visitors
  • Six hospitals had exceptions to the one visitor policy
    • Two hospitals allowed 1 visitor plus a doula if they could provide proof of certification
    • Two hospitals allowed 2 visitors throughout labor and delivery (doulas defined as visitors)
    • Two hospitals allowed 2 visitors but 1 visitor must leave when the baby is born (doulas defined as visitors)
  • One hospital only allowed a father/significant other in the delivery room, unless the birthing person is a minor, in which case a parent is allowed
  • Sixty-four (87.7%) hospitals do not allow swapping of visitors. The visitor that arrives at the start of delivery is the only one that allowed in the room.
    • Four hospitals allowed swapping of visitors

Prenatal Education Classes (N = 73)

  • Seventeen hospitals (23.3%) hospitals currently provide or are planning to provide prenatal education courses online
  • Twenty-seven (37%) hospitals stated that they do not have plans to offer prenatal education classes online
  • Of the hospitals that stated they currently have online prenatal classes available, they can be accessed below. Please note that not all locations within the following hospital systems offer online courses. It may be helpful to check with your provider before registering.
    • If your hospital offers online courses and you would like it listed here, please contact at thecoalition@hmhbga.org   

HMHBGA shared our online course offerings with labor & delivery hospitals across the State to ensure that families can access critical education and support during the shelter-in-place order.

Additional Resources

Keeping Current @ the Capitol – Week of March 16, 2020

Georgia General Assembly Suspended

Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan and Speaker of the House David Ralston announced on March 12, 2020 that the Georgia General Assembly would suspend session indefinitely after Friday (legislative day 29). This decision was made in response to concerns about the potential spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The legislative session is expected to reconvene at an undetermined date. Keeping Current @ the Capitol will be updated when that date is determined. Read more about the decision here

What Happened on Crossover Day

March 12, 2020 was Crossover Day for the Georgia General Assembly. In order for bills to progress to law, they have to pass both the House of Representatives and Senate. They are then sent to the Governor’s desk for approval. Legislative Day 28 is known as Crossover Day and is the last day a bill can cross from one chamber to the other. 

A number of bills related to HMHBGA priorities crossed over by the end of Crossover Day and are able to progress through the legislative process. These bills include: 

  • HB 1114 (Cooper, R-Marietta) Pregnancy Medicaid Extension to Six Months
  • HB 1090 (Silcox, R-Sandy Springs) Workplace Break Time to Express Breast Milk
  • HB 1094 (Gaines, R-Athens) Paid Parental Leave for State Employees
  • SB 327 (Karinshak, D-Duluth) Workplace Break Time to Express Breast Milk
  • SB 375 (Mullis, R-Chickamauga) Cigarettes and Tobacco Products Relating to Minors
  • SB 408 (Strickland, R-McDonough) Family Care Act Sunset Removal 
  • Funds maintained related to maternal mortality reduction initiatives retained in the supplemental FY20 budget
  • $19.7 million in the proposed FY21 budget for Pregnancy Medicaid extension to six months

2020 HMHBGA Legislative & Policy Agenda
The link above will take you to our official 2020 legislative agenda. The items below are bills we are monitoring throughout the session. Legislation on this list is not necessarily endorsed by HMHBGA. 

What Moved Forward – House
HB 719 – Modernization of HIV Laws
(Deborah Silcox, R-Sandy Springs) Would update the current crimes and offenses statutes related to HIV transmission. Specifically decriminalizes the unintentional transmission of HIV. [House Health & Human Services Committee] 

HB 789 – Surprise Bill Rating System
(Mark Newton, R-Augusta) Would provide for the creation of a surprise bill rating system and require insurers include hospital surprise bill ratings online and in print. [Senate Health & Human Services] 

HB 881 – Safe Place for Newborns Act
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) Would implement newborn safety incubators where mothers can place their newborns to prevent injury or death related to abandonment. [Health & Human Services]

HB 888 – Surprise Billing Consumer Protection Act
(Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville) Would provide protection for consumers from surprise medical bills. [Senate Health & Human Services] 

HB 958 – The Maternity Supportive Housing Act
(Ed Setzler, R-Acworth) Would provide maternity supportive housing for pregnant and postpartum women up to 18 months after delivery. [House Juvenile Justice Committee] 

HB 993 – Vital Records Relating to Child Abuse Reports
(Katie Dempsey, R-Rome) Would provide vital records reports to the Division of Family and Children Services for cases involving child abuse or neglect. Vital records could include birth, death, and father registry data. [House Juvenile Justice Committee] 

HB 1054 – Newborn Screening for Various Disorders 
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) Would revise provisions related to newborn screening for various disorders. Would also create a Newborn Screening and Genetics Advisory Committee to review and make recommendations for newly added disorders. [House Health & Human Services]  

HB 1090 – Workplace Break Time to Express Breast Milk
(Deborah Silcox, R-Sandy Springs) Would require employers to provide reasonable break time to an employee who needs to express breast milk for her nursing child. [House Health & Human Services] 

HB 1094 – Paid Parental Leave for State Employees
(Houston Gaines, R-Athens) Would provide three weeks of paid parental leave for state employees. Leave would be provided for the birth of a child, adoption of a child, or foster placement of a child. [Senate Insurance & Labor] 

HB 1114 – Pregnancy Medicaid Coverage to Six Months Postpartum 
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) Would allow the Department of Community Health to apply for an 1115 Waiver to extend Pregnancy Medicaid to six months after delivery. [Senate Health & Human Services]

What Did Not Move Forward – House
HB 577 – Working for Two 
(Park Cannon, D-Atlanta) Would require certain accommodations in the workplace for pregnant and postpartum women, including, but not be limited to, more frequent or longer breaks, time off to recover from childbirth, acquisition or modification of equipment, seating, temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position, job restructuring, light duty, break time and private non-bathroom space for expressing breast milk, assistance with manual labor, or modified work schedules. [House Health & Human Services Committee] 

HB 693– Expanding Medicaid to Improve Health Outcomes for New Mothers Act
(Renitta Shannon, D-Decatur) Would allow the Department of Community Health to extend Pregnancy Medicaid coverage to new mothers from 60 days postpartum to one full year postpartum from the date of delivery. [House Appropriations Committee] 

HB 717 – Georgia License Midwife Act
(Karen Mathiak, R-Griffin) Would create an Advisory Board for Licensed Midwives which would issue licenses to eligible applicants possessing national certification by the North American Registry of Midwives as a certified professional midwife. [House Health & Human Services Committee] 

HB 731 – Increase Excise Tax on Tobacco Products
(Ron Stephens, R-Savannah) Would raise the tax on full-sized cigars from 23% of the wholesale cost price to 42%. Would raise the tax on a 20-pack of cigarettes from $0.37 cents per pack to $1.87 per pack. Would raise the tax on loose or smokeless tobacco from 10% of the wholesale cost price to 42%. [House Ways & Means Committee] 

HB 745 – Georgia Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act
(“Able” Mable Thomas, D-Atlanta)  Would mandate that every perinatal facility in Georgia implement an evidence based implicit bias program for all health care professionals involved in the perinatal care of patients. [House Health & Human Services Committee] 

HB 746 – Women’s Right to Immediate Access Act
(Dar’shun Kendrick, D-Lithonia) Would amend the “Woman’s Right to Know Act,” by allowing a pregnant woman to decide not to review the materials provided by said Act, or to review the heartbeat or fetal monitoring as prescribed by the Act. [House Health & Human Services Committee] 

HB 800 – Out of State OBGyn Reimbursement 
(Sandra Scott, D-Rex) Would allow OBGyn providers in border states (within 50 miles) to be reimbursed by Medicaid at the same rate as in-state providers. [House Health & Human Services Committee] 

HB 801 – Safe Patient Limits Act
(Sandra Scott, D-Rex) Would limit the number of patients that may be assigned to a registered professional nurse in specified situations in hospitals. [House Health & Human Services Committee]

HB 809 – Prohibit Sale of Tobacco Products to Minors
(Angelika Kausche, D-Johns Creek) Would prohibit the sale of tobacco products and tobacco related objects (i.e. vaping) to persons under 21 years of age. [House Regulated Industries Committee]

HB 813 – Medicaid Expansion Program
(Donna McLeod, D-Lawrenceville) Would establish a Medicaid expansion program to provide health care coverage to uninsured individuals and allow for submission of a federal waiver request. [House Special Committee On Access to Quality Health Care]

HB 864 – Vaping Excise Tax 
(Bonnie Rich, R-Suwanee) Would apply an excise tax on the sale of sale of vapor devices and consumable vapor products and would require licensure for persons dealing with vapor devices.[House Ways & Means] 

HB 909 – Age Increase on Cigarettes & Vaping Products
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) Would increase the age of the sale and distribution of tobacco and vaping products. Would also prohibit marijuana flavored products. [Judiciary Non-Civil Committee]

HB 910 – Georgia Licensed Midwife Act
(Karen Mathiak, R-Griffin) Would provide for the licensure and regulation of midwives and create Advisory Group for Licensed Midwives. Would also provide exceptions to the operation of “Georgia Registered Professional Nurse Practice Act” to allow for the practice of midwifery. [Regulated Industries Committee] 

HB 993 – Vital Records Relating to Child Abuse Reports
(Katie Dempsey, R-Rome) Would provide vital records reports to the Division of Family and Children Services for cases involving child abuse or neglect. Vital records could include birth, death, and father registry data. [Juvenile Justice Committee] 

HB 1013 – PeachCare for Adults Act 
(Debbie Buckner, D-Junction City) Would establish the PeachCare for Adults Program, which would cover eligible adults at or below 133% of the federal poverty level who are not enrolled in Medicaid. [Special Committee On Access to Quality Health Care]  

What Moved Forward – Senate

SB 303 – Georgia Right to Shop Act
(Ben Watson, R-Savannah) Would provide for the disclosure of certain pricing information through insurer websites to allow consumers to compare prices on non-emergency healthcare services. [House Special Committee On Access to Quality Health Care


SB 307 – The Living Hope Home Act
(Renee Unterman, R-Buford) Would provide supportive housing for pregnant and postpartum women up to 18 months after delivery. [House Health & Human Services Committee] 

SB 327 – Workplace Break Time to Express Breast Milk
(Zahra Karinshak, D-Duluth) Would require employers to provide reasonable break time to an employee who needs to express breast milk for her nursing child. [Senate Insurance & Labor Committee] 

SB 359 – Surprise Billing Consumer Protection Act
(Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome) Would provide for certain consumer protections against surprise billing and mechanisms to resolve payment disputes between insurers and out-of-network providers. [House Special Committee On Access to Quality Health Care] 

SB 372 – Public Health Updates
(Blake Tillery, R-Vidalia) Would modernize, clarify, and update provisions relating to public health. For example, updating terminology related to sexually transmitted diseases and create an Office of Women’s Health. [House Health & Human Services] 

SB 375 – Cigarettes and Tobacco Products Relating to Minors
(Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga) Would provide penalties for people under the age of 21 for selling and distribution of vaping and nicotine products for people under the age of 21. Would also define vapor products. [Regulated Industries and Utilities] 

SB 391 – Early Prescription Refills During Emergencies Ac
(Kay Kirkpatrick, R-Marietta) Would require health insurance companies to cover early refills of a 30 day prescription supply for emergency situations. [House Special Committee On Access to Quality Health Care

SB 408 – Family Care Act Sunset Removal 
(Brian Strickland, R-McDonough) Would remove the sunset date the Family Care Act, which allows employees use of sick leave for care of immediate family members. Without the removal of the sunset, the Family Care Act would be repealed on July 1, 2020. 

What Did Not Move Forward – Senate
SB 298 – Protections and Education for Minors Regarding Smoking & Vaping
(Renee Unterman, R-Buford) Would increase penalties for selling vaping products to minors, set the age of purchase for all tobacco and vaping products to 21, and restrict certain flavors and marketing imagery as it pertains to the sale of tobacco and vaping products. [Senate   Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee] 

SB 324– Pregnancy Medicaid Coverage to One Year
(Jennifer Jordan, D-Atlanta) Would provide Medicaid coverage for pregnant women for a period of not less than 12 months after delivery. [Senate Appropriations Committee] 

SB 330 & SB 339 – Peachcare Public Option Program
(Sally Harrell, D-Atlanta) Would establish a Medicaid public option program to provide healthcare coverage to individuals not eligible for Medicare, Medicaid, or the PeachCare for Kids Program. [Senate Appropriations Committee] 

SB 333 – Georgia Fatherhood Project
(Lester Jackson, D-Savannah) Would provide a program to re-engage fathers in their children’s lives as an effort to reduce crime. [Urban Affairs]

SB 334 – Certified Community Midwife Act
(Lester Jackson, D-Savannah) Would provide for the licensure and regulation of certified community midwives and create a Certified Community Midwife Board. [Senate Health & Human Services]

House & Senate Resolutions
Legislative resolutions (‘HR’ & ‘SR’) express legislative opinion or recognition on some matter and do not have the effect of law. Resolutions can recognize legislative days (i.e. Maternal Mental Health Day), commend a person or entity, or establish a study committee. 

Joint resolutions need to pass both the House and the Senate and therefore needed to crossover by March 12, 2020. Standalone resolutions can be passed up until Sine Die (last day of session). Below are a list of resolutions that have been introduced this session. Resolutions that have been read and adopted passed.

House Resolutions
HR 1083 – “Maternal Mortality in Georgia: An Epidemic for Black Women” 
(“Able” Mable Thomas, D-Atlanta) Would recognize the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys and the Georgia Association for Women Lawyers Legislative Day, “Maternal Mortality in Georgia: An Epidemic for Black Women,” on February 6, 2020. House Read and Adopted February 5, 2020

HR 1168 – House Study Committee on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
(Sam Park, D-Lawrenceville) Would create a study committee to assess the affects of ACEs to improve maternal and child health. [House Special Rules] No Action

HR 1248 – House Study Committee on Infant and Maternal Mortality Among African Americans
(Jasmine Clark, D-Lilburn) Would create a study committee to assess mortality among African American infants and mothers. [Health & Human Services] No Action

HR 1373 – Maternal Mental Health Day
(Katie Dempsey, R-Rome) Would recognize May 1, 2020 as Maternal Mental Health Day at the state capitol. House Read and Adopted March 3, 2020 

Senate Resolutions
SR 263 – Senate Emergency Medical Services Study Committee
(Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga) Would establish a Senate study committee to conduct a  review of emergency medical services safety standards, accreditation requirements, zoning for 9-1-1 response, and updates to the regulations and Title 31, relating to Georgia Code requirements for emergency medical services. [Senate Rules Committee] Passed Committee by Substitute

SR 520 – Senate Study Committee on Midwifery Practices
(Lester Jackson, D-Savannah) Would create a study committee to assess regulation of community midwives. [Senate Rules Committee] Passed Committee by Substitute 

SR 545 – Birth Safety Awareness Day
(Elena Parent, D-Atlanta) Would recognize March 16, 2020, as Birth Safety Awareness Day at the state capitol in recognition of Kason Choice and Robin Rohe-Oji, two children in recovery from severe birth injuries, and their families. Senate Read and Adopted

SR 763 – Community Midwives National Alliance Day
(Lester Jackson, D-Savannah) Would recognize February 26, 2020 as Community Midwives National Alliance Day. Senate Read and Adopted

Helpful Reminder: ‘No Action’ means there has been no update since the last newsletter.’SB’ or ‘HB’ refer to Senate and House BILLS. ‘SR’ or ‘HR’ refer to Senate and House RESOLUTIONS. Bills are used to propose changes or additions to existing statutory law, while resolutions usually express legislative opinion or recognition on some matter and do not have the effect of law. 

Mid Session Legislative Webinar: March 24 from 2-3PM
A one-hour Session on the mid-point of the 2020 legislative session will be held March 24, 2020 from 2-3PM. This webinar will include updates on the progress of maternal and infant health legislation. If you’re a birth advocate, healthcare professional, or simply a concerned community member, you don’t want to miss this session!

REGISTER HERE

Find Your Legislator

Keeping Current at the Capitol – Week of March 9, 2020

Momentum for Postpartum Medicaid Extension

In Georgia, over half of births are covered by the state’s Pregnancy Medicaid program. These services are critical for ensuring the health of the mother and baby throughout the perinatal period. Unfortunately 60 days after a mother delivers their baby, Medicaid coverage ends, leaving many new mothers without access to optimal postpartum care.

Georgia is currently facing a maternal mortality crisis. Throughout the perinatal period, women are at risk of mortality and morbidity related to pregnancy. Extending postpartum Medicaid coverage would address this issue by ensuring women have continued access to care needed to prevent these deaths. In addition to saving lives, the measure would also save on healthcare costs, which was found by the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute’s cost effectiveness analysis

Currently, there are three bills in the Georgia General Assembly proposing to extend Pregnancy Medicaid coverage.  HB 693 (Renitta Shannon, D-Decatur) and  SB 324 (Jennifer Jordan, D-Atlanta) would extend Medicaid coverage to one year postpartum. On March 5, Chairwoman Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta) introduced HB 1114, which would allow the Department of Community to apply for an 1115 Waiver to extend coverage to six months postpartum and is supported by House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge). On March 9, the House Appropriations Committee approved the proposed FY21 budget (July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021), which included $19.7 million to fund the extension of Pregnancy Medicaid to six months postpartum (pg. 29, line item 17.8.9). The full House is expected to vote on the FY21 budget on March 10 before it moves to the Senate for review. 

HMHBGA and a number of organizations are continuing to urge legislators to fund the extension of Pregnancy Medicaid coverage to one year postpartum. Find out more on postpartum Medicaid extension here. HMHBGA would like to thank all of the partners who are working to advance this issue:

American Medical Association  Georgia Rural Health Association 
Center for Reproductive Rights

Georgians for a Healthy Future 
Georgia Academy of Family Physicians (GAFP) 

Grady Health System 
Georgia Budget & Policy Institute 

March of Dimes
Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students (GEEARS) 

Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) 
Georgia Hospital Association (GHA)
 
Morehouse School of Medicine 
Georgia Nurses Association (GNA) 

Nurse-Midwives of Georgia 
Georgia OBGyn Society (GOGS)  Postpartum Support International: Georgia Chapter (PSI-GA) 

Georgia Osteopathic Medical Association (GOMA)  Presbyterians for a Better Georgia 
Georgia Primary Care Association (GPCA) 

United Way of Greater Atlanta
Georgia Psychiatric Physicians Association (GPPA)  Voices for Georgia’s Children

 

Crossover Day is Upon Us!

This Thursday, March 12, 2020 is Crossover Day for the Georgia General Assembly. In order for bills to progress to law, they have to pass both the House of Representatives and Senate. They are then sent to the Governor’s desk for approval. Legislative Day 28 is known as Crossover Day and is the last day a bill can cross from one chamber to the other. This is one of the busiest days with legislators and lobbyists often staying until midnight at the Capitol. 

2020 HMHBGA Legislative & Policy Agenda

The link above will take you to our official 2020 legislative agenda. The items below are bills we are monitoring throughout the session. Legislation on this list is not necessarily endorsed by HMHBGA. 

House Legislation

HB 577 – Working for Two 
(Park Cannon, D-Atlanta) Would require certain accommodations in the workplace for pregnant and postpartum women, including, but not be limited to, more frequent or longer breaks, time off to recover from childbirth, acquisition or modification of equipment, seating, temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position, job restructuring, light duty, break time and private non-bathroom space for expressing breast milk, assistance with manual labor, or modified work schedules. [House Health & Human Services Committee] No Action

HB 693– Expanding Medicaid to Improve Health Outcomes for New Mothers Act
(Renitta Shannon, D-Decatur)Would allow the Department of Community Health to extend Pregnancy Medicaid coverage to new mothers from 60 days postpartum to one full year postpartum from the date of delivery. [House Appropriations Committee] No Action

HB 717 – Georgia License Midwife Act
(Karen Mathiak, R-Griffin) Would create an Advisory Board for Licensed Midwives which would issue licenses to eligible applicants possessing national certification by the North American Registry of Midwives as a certified professional midwife. [House Health & Human Services Committee] No Action

HB 719 – Modernization of HIV Laws
(Deborah Silcox, R-Sandy Springs) Would update the current crimes and offenses statutes related to HIV transmission. Specifically decriminalizes the unintentional transmission of HIV. [House Health & Human Services Committee] Passed Committee by Substitute 

HB 731 – Increase Excise Tax on Tobacco Products
(Ron Stephens, R-Savannah) Would raise the tax on full-sized cigars from 23% of the wholesale cost price to 42%. Would raise the tax on a 20-pack of cigarettes from $0.37 cents per pack to $1.87 per pack. Would raise the tax on loose or smokeless tobacco from 10% of the wholesale cost price to 42%. [House Ways & Means Committee] No Action

HB 745 – Georgia Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act
(“Able” Mable Thomas, D-Atlanta)  Would mandate that every perinatal facility in Georgia implement an evidence based implicit bias program for all health care professionals involved in the perinatal care of patients. [House Health & Human Services Committee] No Action

HB 746 – Women’s Right to Immediate Access Act
(Dar’shun Kendrick, D-Lithonia) Would amend the “Woman’s Right to Know Act,” by allowing a pregnant woman to decide not to review the materials provided by said Act, or to review the heartbeat or fetal monitoring as prescribed by the Act. [House Health & Human Services Committee] No Action

HB 789 – Surprise Bill Rating System
(Mark Newton, R-Augusta) Would provide for the creation of a surprise bill rating system and require insurers include hospital surprise bill ratings online and in print. [Senate Health & Human Services] UPDATE: Crossed Over from House of Representatives to Senate by Substitute

HB 800 – Out of State OBGyn Reimbursement 
(Sandra Scott, D-Rex) Would allow OBGyn providers in border states (within 50 miles) to be reimbursed by Medicaid at the same rate as in-state providers. [House Health & Human Services Committee] No Action

HB 801 – Safe Patient Limits Act
(Sandra Scott, D-Rex) Would limit the number of patients that may be assigned to a registered professional nurse in specified situations in hospitals. [House Health & Human Services Committee] No Action

HB 809– Prohibit Sale of Tobacco Products to Minors
(Angelika Kausche, D-Johns Creek) Would prohibit the sale of tobacco products and tobacco related objects (i.e. vaping) to persons under 21 years of age. [House Regulated Industries Committee] No Action

HB 813– Medicaid Expansion Program
(Donna McLeod, D-Lawrenceville) Would establish a Medicaid expansion program to provide health care coverage to uninsured individuals and allow for submission of a federal waiver request. [House Special Committee On Access to Quality Health Care] No Action

HB 864 – Vaping Excise Tax 
(Bonnie Rich, R-Suwanee) Would apply an excise tax on the sale of sale of vapor devices and consumable vapor products and would require licensure for persons dealing with vapor devices.[House Ways & Means] UPDATE: Passed Committee by Substitute 

HB 881– Safe Place for Newborns Act
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) Would implement newborn safety incubators where mothers can place their newborns to prevent injury or death related to abandonment. [Health & Human Services] UPDATE: Passed Committee by Substitute 

HB 888 – Surprise Billing Consumer Protection Act
(Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville) Would provide protection for consumers from surprise medical bills. [Senate Health & Human Services]  UPDATE: Crossed Over from House of Representatives to Senate by Substitute 

HB 909 – Age Increase on Cigarettes & Vaping Products
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) Would increase the age of the sale and distribution of tobacco and vaping products. Would also prohibit marijuana flavored products. [Judiciary Non-Civil Committee] No Action

HB 910 – Georgia Licensed Midwife Act
(Karen Mathiak, R-Griffin) Would provide for the licensure and regulation of midwives and create Advisory Group for Licensed Midwives. Would also provide exceptions to the operation of “Georgia Registered Professional Nurse Practice Act” to allow for the practice of midwifery. [Regulated Industries Committee] No Action

HB 958 – The Maternity Supportive Housing Act
(Ed Setzler, R-Acworth) Would provide maternity supportive housing for pregnant and postpartum women up to 18 months after delivery. [House Juvenile Justice Committee] No Action

HB 993 – Vital Records Relating to Child Abuse Reports
(Katie Dempsey, R-Rome) Would provide vital records reports to the Division of Family and Children Services for cases involving child abuse or neglect. Vital records could include birth, death, and father registry data. [Juvenile Justice Committee] No Action

HB 1013– PeachCare for Adults Act 
(Debbie Buckner, D-Junction City) Would establish the PeachCare for Adults Program, which would cover eligible adults at or below 133% of the federal poverty level who are not enrolled in Medicaid. [Special Committee On Access to Quality Health Care]  No Action

HB 1054 – Newborn Screening for Various Disorders 
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) Would revise provisions related to newborn screening for various disorders. Would also create a Newborn Screening and Genetics Advisory Committee to review and make recommendations for newly added disorders. [Health & Human Services]  UPDATE: Crossed Over from House of Representatives to Senate by Substitute 

HB 1090 – Workplace Break Time to Express Breast Milk
(Deborah Silcox, R-Sandy Springs) Would require employers to provide reasonable break time to an employee who needs to express breast milk for her nursing child. [Health & Human Services] UPDATE: Passed Committee 

HB 1094 – Paid Parental Leave for State Employees
(Houston Gaines, R-Athens) Would provide three weeks of paid parental leave for state employees. Leave would be provided for the birth of a child, adoption of a child, or foster placement of a child. [Health & Human Services] UPDATE: Passed Committee

HB 1114– Pregnancy Medicaid Coverage to Six Months Postpartum 
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) Would allow the Department of Community Health to apply for an 1115 Waiver to extend Pregnancy Medicaid to six months after delivery. [Health & Human Services] Introduced March 5, 2020

HR 1083 – “Maternal Mortality in Georgia: An Epidemic for Black Women” 
(“Able” Mable Thomas, D-Atlanta) Would recognize the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys and the Georgia Association for Women Lawyers Legislative Day, “Maternal Mortality in Georgia: An Epidemic for Black Women,” on February 6, 2020. House Read and Adopted

HR 1168 – House Study Committee on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
(Sam Park, D-Lawrenceville) Would create a study committee to assess the affects of ACEs to improve maternal and child health. [House Special Rules] No Action

HR 1248 – House Study Committee on Infant and Maternal Mortality Among African Americans

(Jasmine Clark, D-Lilburn) Would create a study committee to assess mortality among African American infants and mothers. [Health & Human Services] No Action

HR 1373 – Maternal Mental Health Day
(Katie Dempsey, R-Rome) Would recognize May 1, 2020 as Maternal Mental Health Day at the state capitol. UPDATE: House Read and Adopted

Senate Legislation

SB 4– Lactation Room in Capitol Buildings
(Jennifer Jordan, D-Atlanta) Would provide private lactation rooms in the Capitol building and Paul D. Coverdell Legislative Office Building. [SenateState Institutions and Property Committee] No Action

SB 298 – Protections and Education for Minors Regarding Smoking & Vaping
(Renee Unterman, R-Buford) Would increase penalties for selling vaping products to minors, set the age of purchase for all tobacco and vaping products to 21, and restrict certain flavors and marketing imagery as it pertains to the sale of tobacco and vaping products. [Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee] Passed Committee by Substitute

SB 303 – Georgia Right to Shop Act
(Ben Watson, R-Savannah) Would provide for the disclosure of certain pricing information through insurer websites to allow consumers to compare prices on non-emergency healthcare services. [House Special Committee On Access to Quality Health Care] Crossed Over from Senate to House of Representatives by Substitute 

SB 307 – The Living Hope Home Act
(Renee Unterman, R-Buford) Would provide supportive housing for pregnant and postpartum women up to 18 months after delivery. [House Health & Human Services Committee] UPDATE: Crossed Over from Senate to House of Representatives

SB 324– Pregnancy Medicaid Coverage to One Year
(Jennifer Jordan, D-Atlanta) Would provide Medicaid coverage for pregnant women for a period of not less than 12 months after delivery. [Senate Appropriations Committee] No Action

SB 327 – Workplace Break Time to Express Breast Milk
(Zahra Karinshak, D-Duluth) Would require employers to provide reasonable break time to an employee who needs to express breast milk for her nursing child. [Senate Insurance & Labor Committee] Passed Committee by Substitute 

SB 330 – Peachcare Public Option Program
(Sally Harrell, D-Atlanta) Would establish a Medicaid public option program to provide healthcare coverage to individuals not eligible for Medicare, Medicaid, or the PeachCare for Kids Program. [Senate Appropriations Committee] Senate Withdrawn Bill/Res Consideration

SB 333 – Georgia Fatherhood Project
(Lester Jackson, D-Savannah) Would provide a program to re-engage fathers in their children’s lives as an effort to reduce crime. [Urban Affairs]Passed Committee by Substitute 

SB 334 – Certified Community Midwife Act
(Lester Jackson, D-Savannah) Would provide for the licensure and regulation of certified community midwives and create a Certified Community Midwife Board. [Senate Health & Human Services] No Action

SB 339– Medicaid Public Option Network
(Sally Harrell, D-Atlanta) Would establish a Medicaid public option program to provide healthcare coverage to individuals not eligible for Medicare, Medicaid, or the PeachCare for Kids Program. [Senate Appropriations Committee] No Action

SB 359– Surprise Billing Consumer Protection Act
(Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome) Would provide for certain consumer protections against surprise billing and mechanisms to resolve payment disputes between insurers and out-of-network providers. [House Special Committee On Access to Quality Health Care] Crossed Over from Senate to House of Representatives by Substitute

SB 372– Public Health Updates
(Blake Tillery, R-Vidalia) Would modernize, clarify, and update provisions relating to public health. For example, updating terminology related to sexually transmitted diseases and create an Office of Women’s Health. [House Health & Human Services] UPDATE: Crossed Over from Senate to House of Representatives  

SB 375– Cigarettes and Tobacco Products Relating to Minors
(Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga) Would provide penalties for people under the age of 21 for selling and distribution of vaping and nicotine products for people under the age of 21. Would also define vapor products. [Regulated Industries and Utilities] No Action

SB 391 – Early Prescription Refills During Emergencies Act
(Kay Kirkpatrick, R-Marietta) Would require health insurance companies to cover early refills of a 30 day prescription supply for emergency situations. [Senate Health & Human Services] UPDATE: Passed Committee 

SB 408 – Family Care Act Sunset Removal 
(Brian Strickland, R-McDonough) Would remove the sunset date the Family Care Act, which allows employees use of sick leave for care of immediate family members. Without the removal of the sunset, the Family Care Act would be repealed on July 1, 2020. Passed Committee 

SR 263 – Senate Emergency Medical Services Study Committee
(Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga) Would establish a Senate study committee to conduct a  review of emergency medical services safety standards, accreditation requirements, zoning for 9-1-1 response, and updates to the regulations and Title 31, relating to Georgia Code requirements for emergency medical services. [Senate Rules Committee] UPDATE: Passed Committee by Substitute

SR 520 – Senate Study Committee on Midwifery Practices
(Lester Jackson, D-Savannah) Would create a study committee to assess regulation of community midwives. [Senate Rules Committee] Passed Committee by Substitute 

SR 545 – Birth Safety Awareness Day

(Elena Parent, D-Atlanta) Would recognize March 16, 2020, as Birth Safety Awareness Day at the state capitol in recognition of Kason Choice and Robin Rohe-Oji, two children in recovery from severe birth injuries, and their families. Senate Read and Adopted

SR 763 – Community Midwives National Alliance Day(Lester Jackson, D-Savannah) Would recognize February 26, 2020 as Community Midwives National Alliance Day. Senate Read and Adopted.

Helpful Reminder: ‘No Action’ means there has been no update since the last newsletter. ‘SB’ or ‘HB’ refer to Senate and House BILLS. ‘SR’ or ‘HR’ refer to Senate and House RESOLUTIONS. Bills are used to propose changes or additions to existing statutory law, while resolutions usually express legislative opinion or recognition on some matter and do not have the effect of law. 

Want to Advocate at the Capitol? 
Are you interested in speaking with legislators at the Capitol during this 2020 legislative session? HMHBGA is here to help! Our advocates will be at the Capitol Monday through Thursday every week on behalf of postpartum Medicaid extension, workplace accommodations, tobacco or vaping legislation, and maternal and infant health funding. If you are interested in advocating for these issues please email amber.mack@hmhbga.org. 

Find Your Legislator.

The Case for Postpartum Medicaid Extension

In Georgia, over half of births are covered by the state’s Pregnancy Medicaid program. Pregnancy Medicaid covers full medical services, including prenatal care, substance use treatment, and behavioral health, for women at or below 220% of the federal poverty line (FPL) – about $34,000 for a family of two and $52,000 for four. These services are critical for ensuring the health of the mother and baby throughout the perinatal period. Unfortunately, 60 days after a mother delivers their baby Medicaid coverage ends, leaving many new mothers without access to optimal postpartum care. In fact, among Georgia new mothers, about 76% under the 220% FPL no longer qualify for Medicaid 60 days after delivery.

Georgia is facing a maternal mortality crisis. Throughout the perinatal period, women are at risk of mortality and morbidity related to pregnancy. These risks do not disappear when a pregnancy ends. In Georgia, most pregnancy-related deaths occur in the postpartum period and two out of three pregnancy-related deaths are preventable. Additionally, Black mothers in Georgia are about three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related deaths compared to White mothers.

Georgia mothers are in need of continued care for one year following delivery to ensure medical and behavioral health needs are met. This is especially true for many mothers who may be receiving Medicaid coverage for the first time and may have untreated chronic conditions. For example, if cardiomyopathy (one of the leading causes of Georgia’s pregnancy-related deaths) is discovered during a women’s pregnancy, she will need continuous specialized care after she gives birth. However when her Medicaid coverage ends after 60 days, she is at risk for experiencing serious and potentially life-threatening complications without access to appropriate healthcare providers.

In addition to saving lives, the measure would also save on healthcare costs. We know that extending Pregnancy Medicaid will save money for Georgia hospitals, especially those in under-resourced areas that typically end up caring for women in crisis during the postpartum period after their Medicaid has lapsed. The Georgia Budget & Policy Institute (GBPI) conducted a budget analysis where they found it to be cost effective in providing care for physical and mental health conditions. For example, the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities could save funds with the ability to bill Medicaid for services related to postpartum depression and anxiety.

The Georgia Maternal Mortality Review Committee, the Georgia House Study Committee on Maternal Mortality, and the Georgia House Study Committee on Infant and Toddler Social and Emotional Health have all recommended the extension of postpartum Medicaid coverage from the current 60 days to a year postpartum to prevent pregnancy-related deaths. Georgia’s mothers are in need of critical care beyond 60 days to maintain optimal health for themselves and their children.

Currently, there are three bills in the Georgia General Assembly proposing to extend Pregnancy Medicaid coverage. House Bill 693 (Renitta Shannon, D-Decatur) and Senate Bill 324 (Jennifer Jordan, D-Atlanta) would extend Medicaid coverage to a year postpartum. House Bill 1114 (Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) would allow the Department of Community Health to apply for a Waiver to extend Pregnancy Medicaid coverage to six months postpartum and is supported by House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge). Efforts are also being made on the federal level with Senator Cory Booker’s MOMMIES Act (SB 1343), which would extend coverage to one year postpartum nationally. Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia and a number of organizations are continuing to urge legislators to fund the extension of Pregnancy Medicaid to one year postpartum. Download the one-pager in support of Pregnancy Medicaid extension here.