Keeping Current @ the Capitol – Week of February 22, 2021

Parental Leave Bill Passes Full House

House Bill 146, sponsored by Representative Houston Gaines (R – Athens), passed the full House last week with a vote of 155-2. This bill would provide three weeks of paid parental leave to state employees for the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child. The bill will now move to the Senate for consideration and has been assigned to the Insurance & Labor Committee. Learn more here.

To watch the full vote visit here (begins at 1:01:44).

Thank You Attendees!

HMHBGA and March of Dimes would like to thank all of those who attended last Thursday’s legislative event, Advocacy in A Virtual World & Beyond! Attendees were able to hear from both organizations regarding their policy priorities this session and were equipped with tools to uplift advocacy items that are important to them throughout the session. Legislative panelists shared tips on how to engage policy makers in a virtual age, thoughts on the budget, and what they are working on to improve the health of Georgia’s moms and babies. HMHBGA was also happy to introduce our new Executive Director Ky Lindberg. The event closed with acceptance speeches from this year’s Charlotte Wilen Advocates of the Year. 

Charlotte Wilen Advocates of the Year

Legislation to Watch

House Legislation

HB 9 – Telehealth Services in Schools
(Sandra Scott, D – Rex) Would require the Department of Education to develop guidelines for the use of telehealth services in public schools for mental health and behavioral health services. [House Education Committee] No update

HB 11 – 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 update

HB 38 – Repeal Sterilization Procedures 
(Kim Schofield, D – Atlanta) Would repeal certain provisions related to the performance of reproductive sterilization procedures. No update

HB 41 – Health Benefit Plan Network Access and Adequacy Act
(Kim Schofield, D – Atlanta) Would increase consumer access to health care by improving network adequacy and under certain circumstances charge out-of-network services at in-network rates. No update

HB 49 – Mental Health Parity Act 
(Shelly Hutchinson, D – Snellville) Would require mental health substance use services to be treated in line with other health insurance claims. [House Insurance Committee] No update

HB 54 – Menstrual Hygiene Education
(Debra Bazemore, D – South Fulton) Would provide instruction on best practices and risks associated with tampons during sex education and AIDS prevention instruction in core curriculum. [House Education Committee] No update

HB 57 – Breastfeeding in Penal Institutions 
(Sandra Scott, D – Rex) Would provide policies for breast milk storage and the breastfeeding of a newborn, require prenatal and postpartum care, and require the provision of breast pumps in penal institutions. [House Health & Human Services Committee] No update

HB 72 – New Mothers Medicaid Expansion Act
(Carolyn Hugley, D – Columbus) Would extend Pregnancy Medicaid to 12 months after delivery. [House Health & Human Services Committee] No update

HB 96 – Presumption in Child Custody Cases
(Jasmine Clark, D – Lilburn) Would revise presumption in cases in which the custody of any child is at issue. [House Juvenile Justice Committee] No update

HB 146 – Paid Parental Leave for State Employees 
(Houston Gaines, R – Athens) Would provide for three weeks of paid parental leave for eligible state employees and eligible local board of education employees following the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child. [House Health & Human Services Committee] Passed full House (155-2) and assigned to Senate Insurance & Labor Committee

HB 154 – Protection of Children 
(Bert Reeves, R – Marietta) Would strengthen, clarify, and update provisions relating to the protection of children, including foster children and adopted children. [House Juvenile Justice Committee] Passed full House (160-4) by substitute

HB 163 – Medicaid Express Lane Eligibility 
(Sharon Cooper, R – Marietta) Would implement express lane enrollment, which would automatically enroll and renew eligible children in Medicaid based on SNAP data. [House Health & Human Services Committee] Passed full House (166-0) by substitute and assigned to Senate Health & Human Services Committee

HB 197 – Family Care Act Extension 
(Regina Lewis-Ward, D – McDonough) Would extend the Family Care Act, which allows employees to use sick time to care for immediate family members, to 2025. [House Industry & Labor Committee] No update

HB 209 – Medicaid Expansion Program
(Donna McLeod, D – Lawrenceville) Would expand Medicaid coverage to eligible people up to 150% of the federal poverty line. [House Health & Human Services] No update

HB 215 – Telehealth Options Under Medicaid
(Mary Robichaux, D – Roswell) Would extend the use of temporary Medicaid telehealth options during the pandemic emergency to a permanent status. Would also provide certification and training to providers through telehealth options. [House Health & Human Services Committee] No update

HB 257 – Maternity Supportive Housing Act 
(Ed Setzler, R – Acworth) Would provide registration of maternity supportive housing for pregnant women. [Health & Human Services Committee] No update

HB 287 – Tobacco and Vaping Education
(Bonnie Rich, R – Suwanee) Would include tobacco and vapor products in the course of instruction regarding alcohol and drugs required each year for all students in grades kindergarten through 12. [House Education Committee] Passed full House (156-0) 

HB 307 – Georgia Telehealth Act
(Sharon Cooper, R – Marietta) Would authorize health care providers to provide telemedicine services from home and allow patients to receive telehealth services from home, work, or school. [House Health & Human Services Committee] Favorably passed committee by substitute

HB 377 – Georgia Women’s Care Act
(Kim Schofield, D – Atlanta) Would revise provisions related to the arrests of pregnant women, require pregnancy testing upon detention, and enact delayed sentencing for postpartum female inmates. [House Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee] No update

HB 381 – Expanding Medicaid to Improve Health Outcomes for New Mothers Act
(Renitta Shannon, D – Decatur) Would extend Pregnancy Medicaid to 12 months after delivery. Assigned to House Health & Human Services Committee 

HB 382 – Positive Alternatives for Pregnancy and Parenting Grant Program Repeal
(Renitta Shannon, D – Decatur) Would redirect public health funds from the Positive Alternatives for Pregnancy and Parenting Grant Program (Crisis Pregnancy Centers) to evidence-based programs. [House Health & Human Services Committee] No update

HB 394 – Tobacco & Vaping Tax
(Ron Stephens, R – Savannah) Would raise the tobacco tax to $1.87 per pack and tax vaping products at 39% of the wholesale cost. [House Ways & Means Committee] No update

HB 448 – Medicaid & PeachCare Disclosure of Cost Data
(David Knight, R – Griffin) Would require all contracts with Medicaid and PeachCare programs to disclose all cost related data to the state. Introduced and assigned to House Special Committee On Access to Quality Health Care Committee

HR 52 – Joint Study Committee on Lead Exposure
(Katie Dempsey, R – Rome) Would create a Joint Study Committee to study prevention of childhood lead exposure. [House Health & Human Services Committee] Favorably passed by committee

HR 78 – Racism Public Health Crisis
(Sandra Scott, D – Rex) Would declare racism a public health crisis in Georgia.[House Human Relations & Aging Committee] No update

HR 131 – House Study Committee on Health in Georgia
(Karen Bennett, D – Stone Mountain) Would create a House Study Committee on Health, which will study various health conditions impacting Georgians. [House Health & Human Services Committee] No update

HR 146 – House Study Committee on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
(Sam Park, D – Lawrenceville) Would create a House Study Committee on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) to Improve the Health of Women and Children. Introduced and assigned to the House Health & Human Services Committee

HR 163 – House Study Committee to Evaluate Workplace Safety and Labor Law Enforcement
(Spencer Frye, D – Athens) Would create a House Study Committee to Evaluate Workplace Safety and Labor Law Enforcement. Introduced and assigned to House Industry & Labor Committee

Senate Legislation

SB 20 – Child Advocate Advisory Committee
(Chuck Payne, R – Dalton) Would revise the composition of the Child Advocate Advisory Committee to include a foster parent, a former foster child, and a court appointment special advocate (CASA). [Senate Education & Youth Committee; House Juvenile Justice Committee] Assigned to House Education & Youth Committee

SB 55 – Georgia Family Medical Leave Act 
(Gloria Butler, D – Stone Mountain) Would create a program to compensate wage loss sustained by any individual who is unable to work due to such individual’s own sickness or injury, the sickness or injury of a family member, or the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a new child. [Senate Insurance & Labor Committee] No update

SB 83 – Medicaid Public Option
(Sally Harrell, D – Atlanta) Would provide for 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 update

SB 91 – Feminine Hygiene Products to Students
(Donzella James, D – Atlanta) Would require boards of education to provide free feminine hygiene products to students. [Senate Education & Youth Committee] No update

SB 111 – Georgia Community Midwife Act
(Lester Jackson, D – Savannah) Would provide for the licensure and regulation of community midwives. [Senate Health & Human Services Committee] No update

SB 116 – Maternity Supportive Housing Residences
(Randy Robertson, R – Cataula) Would provide for registration of maternity supportive housing residences to provide housing for pregnant women. [Senate Health & Human Services Committee] Favorably passed by committee

SB 170 – Home Childbirth
(Lester Jackson, D – Savannah) Would require health benefit policies to provide coverage for expenses incurred in home childbirth. Assigned to Senate Insurance & Labor Committee

SB 173 – Medicaid Coverage for Lactation & Postpartum Care
(Gail Davenport, D – Jonesboro) Would extend Pregnancy Medicaid to 12 months after delivery provide coverage for lactation services. Introduced and assigned to Senate Appropriations Committee

SR 42 – Family Medical Leave Fund
(Gloria Butler, D – Stone Mountain) Would create a Family Medical Leave Fund as a trust fund from which funds can be used to provide a program for individuals who need to take leave from work due to their own sickness or nonwork related injury, the sickness or injury of a family member, or the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child.[Senate Insurance & Labor Committee] No update
Helpful Reminder
Red text notes any updates that have occurred since the last newsletter.
‘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.
Project 236

Project 236 is an advocacy tool that can be used to understand the state of maternal and infant health in your legislative district! Outcomes include rates of preterm birth, low birthweight, infant mortality, and prenatal care inadequacy. In this age of virtual advocacy, we hope that this can be used as a way to advocate for improved maternal and infant health in your own backyard.

We encourage you to engage with your legislators on why investment in maternal and infant health is necessary for the health of Georgia’s families. You can access the fact sheet for your district below.

Project 236 Fact Sheets

Keeping Current @ the Capitol – Week of February 15, 2021

Parental Leave Bill Passes Committee

House Bill 146, sponsored by Representative Houston Gaines (R – Athens), passed the House Health & Human Services (HHS) Committee last week. This bill would provide three weeks of paid parental leave to state employees for the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child. The bill is now expected to move on to the full House for a vote before being sent to the Senate for consideration. HMHBGA is in full support of this bill and will continue to monitor its progress.

To watch the committee hearing visit here (begins at 53:46).

Legislative Calendar Set Through March 1

The Legislative Calendar has been set through March 1 and is as follows:

  • Tuesday, February 16: Legislative Day 17
  • Wednesday, February 17: Legislative Day 18
  • Thursday, February 18: Legislative Day 19
  • Monday, February 22: Legislative Day 20
  • Tuesday, February 23: Legislative Day 21
  • Wednesday, February 24: Legislative Day 22
  • Thursday, February 25: Legislative Day 23
  • Friday, February 26: Legislative Day 24
  • Monday March 1: Legislative Day 25

You can read the adjournment resolution here. Barring a suspension due to COVID-19, the Legislature is expected to continue through the regular 40-day session.

Advocacy in a Virtual World & Beyond
Join us on February 18 from 11AM-12:30PM. HMHBGA, ​in partnership with the March of Dimes, will hold a​n educational session (via Zoom) on how to advocate for maternal and infant health policies in a virtual age. Things may look different this year and we want to make sure advocates’ voices are being heard! Attendees will be equipped with the tools to uplift policy priorities that are important to them throughout the session.

You will also hear from legislators (pre-recorded) describing how they ​plan to address maternal and infant healthcare issues in 2021 and how these issues may impact Georgia’s families. Winners of the Charlotte Wilen Advocates of the Year Award will also be honored. This award is presented to legislators who made a tremendous difference in the lives of Georgia’s mothers and infants through their efforts during the 2020 legislative session. 

Panelists

Charlotte Wilen Advocates of the Year

REGISTER HERE

Legislation to Watch

The items below are bills we are monitoring throughout the session related to maternal, infant, child, and general health. Legislation on this list is not necessarily endorsed by HMHBGA.

House Legislation
HB 9 – Telehealth Services in Schools
(Sandra Scott, D – Rex) Would require the Department of Education to develop guidelines for the use of telehealth services in public schools for mental health and behavioral health services. [House Education Committee] No update

HB 11 – 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 update

HB 38 – Repeal Sterilization Procedures 
(Kim Schofield, D – Atlanta) Would repeal certain provisions related to the performance of reproductive sterilization procedures. No update

HB 41 – Health Benefit Plan Network Access and Adequacy Act
(Kim Schofield, D – Atlanta) Would increase consumer access to health care by improving network adequacy and under certain circumstances charge out-of-network services at in-network rates. No update

HB 49 – Mental Health Parity Act 
(Shelly Hutchinson, D – Snellville) Would require mental health substance use services to be treated in line with other health insurance claims. [House Insurance Committee] No update

HB 54 – Menstrual Hygiene Education
(Debra Bazemore, D – South Fulton) Would provide instruction on best practices and risks associated with tampons during sex education and AIDS prevention instruction in core curriculum. [House Education Committee] No update

HB 57 – Breastfeeding in Penal Institutions 
(Sandra Scott, D – Rex) Would provide policies for breast milk storage and the breastfeeding of a newborn, require prenatal and postpartum care, and require the provision of breast pumps in penal institutions. [House Health & Human Services Committee] No update

HB 58 – Georgia Women’s Care Act
(Kim Schofield, D – Atlanta) Would revise provisions related to the arrests of pregnant women, require pregnancy testing upon detention, and enact delayed sentencing for postpartum female inmates. Now HB 377 (see below)

HB 72 – New Mothers Medicaid Expansion Act
(Carolyn Hugley, D – Columbus) Would extend Pregnancy Medicaid to 12 months after delivery. [House Health & Human Services Committee] No update

HB 96 – Presumption in Child Custody Cases
(Jasmine Clark, D – Lilburn) Would revise presumption in cases in which the custody of any child is at issue. [House Juvenile Justice Committee] No update

HB 146 – Paid Parental Leave for State Employees 
(Houston Gaines, R – Athens) Would provide for three weeks of paid parental leave for eligible state employees and eligible local board of education employees following the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child. [House Health & Human Services Committee] Favorably Passed Committee

HB 154 – Protection of Children 
(Bert Reeves, R – Marietta) Would strengthen, clarify, and update provisions relating to the protection of children, including foster children and adopted children. [House Juvenile Justice Committee] Favorably Passed Committee by Substitute 

HB 163 – Medicaid Express Lane Eligibility 
(Sharon Cooper, R – Marietta) Would implement express lane enrollment, which would automatically enroll and renew eligible children in Medicaid based on SNAP data. [House Health & Human Services Committee] Favorably Passed Committee by Substitute 

HB 197 – Family Care Act Extension 
(Regina Lewis-Ward, D – McDonough) Would extend the Family Care Act, which allows employees to use sick time to care for immediate family members, to 2025. [House Industry & Labor Committee] No update

HB 209 – Medicaid Expansion Program
(Donna McLeod, D – Lawrenceville) Would expand Medicaid coverage to eligible people up to 150% of the federal poverty line. [House Health & Human Services] No update

HB 215 – Telehealth Options Under Medicaid
(Mary Robichaux, D – Roswell) Would extend the use of temporary Medicaid telehealth options during the pandemic emergency to a permanent status. Would also provide certification and training to providers through telehealth options. [House Health & Human Services Committee] No update

HB 257 – Maternity Supportive Housing Act 
(Ed Setzler, R – Acworth) Would provide registration of maternity supportive housing for pregnant women. [Health & Human Services Committee] No update

HB 287 – Tobacco and Vaping Education
(Bonnie Rich, R – Suwanee) Would include tobacco and vapor products in the course of instruction regarding alcohol and drugs required each year for all students in grades kindergarten through 12. [House Education Committee] Favorably Passed Committee

HB 307 – Georgia Telehealth Act
(Sharon Cooper, R – Marietta) Would authorize health care providers to provide telemedicine services from home and allows patients to receive telehealth services from home, work, or school. Introduced and assigned to House Health & Human Services Committee

HB 381 – Expanding Medicaid to Improve Health Outcomes for New Mothers Act
(Renitta Shannon, D – Decatur) Would extend Pregnancy Medicaid to 12 months after delivery. Introduced and assigned to House Health & Human Services Committee

HB 382 – Positive Alternatives for Pregnancy and Parenting Grant Program Repeal
(Renitta Shannon, D – Decatur) Would redirect public health funds from the Positive Alternatives for Pregnancy and Parenting Grant Program (Crisis Pregnancy Centers) to evidence-based programs. Introduced and assigned to House Health & Human Services Committee

HB 394 – Tobacco & Vaping Tax
(Ron Stephens, R – Savannah) Would raise the tobacco tax to $1.87 per pack and tax vaping products at 39% of the wholesale cost. Introduced and assigned to House Ways & Means Committee

HB 377 – Georgia Women’s Care Act
(Kim Schofield, D – Atlanta) Would revise provisions related to the arrests of pregnant women, require pregnancy testing upon detention, and enact delayed sentencing for postpartum female inmates. Introduced and assigned to House Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee

HR 52 – Joint Study Committee on Lead Exposure
(Katie Dempsey, R – Rome) Would create a Joint Study Committee to study prevention of childhood lead exposure. Introduced and assigned to House Health & Human Services Committee

HR 78 – Racism Public Health Crisis
(Sandra Scott, D – Rex) Would declare racism a public health crisis in Georgia. Introduced and assigned to House Human Relations & Aging Committee

HR 131 – House Study Committee on Health in Georgia
(Karen Bennett, D – Stone Mountain) Would create a House Study Committee on Health, which will study various health conditions impacting Georgians. Introduced and assigned to House Health & Human Services Committee

Senate Legislation
SB 20 – Child Advocate Advisory Committee
(Chuck Payne, R – Dalton) Would revise the composition of the Child Advocate Advisory Committee to include a foster parent, a former foster child, and a court appointment special advocate (CASA). [Senate Education & Youth Committee; House Juvenile Justice Committee] Passed full Senate (48-0)

SB 55 – Georgia Family Medical Leave Act 
(Gloria Butler, D – Stone Mountain) Would create a program to compensate wage loss sustained by any individual who is unable to work due to such individual’s own sickness or injury, the sickness or injury of a family member, or the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a new child. [Senate Insurance & Labor Committee] No update

SB 83 – Medicaid Public Option
(Sally Harrell, D – Atlanta) Would provide for a Medicaid public option program to provide healthcare coverage to individuals not eligible for Medicare, Medicaid, or the PeachCare for Kids Program. Assigned to Senate Appropriations Committee 

SB 91 – Feminine Hygiene Products to Students
(Donzella James, D – Atlanta) Would require boards of education to provide free feminine hygiene products to students. [Senate Education & Youth Committee] No update

SB 111 – Georgia Community Midwife Act
(Lester Jackson, D – Savannah) Would provide for the licensure and regulation of community midwives. Introduced and assigned to Senate Health & Human Services Committee

SB 116 – Maternity Supportive Housing Residences
(Randy Robertson, R – Cataula) Would provide for registration of maternity  3 supportive housing residences to provide housing for pregnant women. Introduced and assigned to the Senate Health & Human Services Committee

SB 170 – Home Childbirth
(Lester Jackson, D – Savannah) Would require health benefit policies to provide coverage for expenses incurred in home childbirth. Introduced

SR 42 – Family Medical Leave Fund
(Gloria Butler, D – Stone Mountain) Would create a Family Medical Leave Fund as a trust fund from which funds can be used to provide a program for individuals who need to take leave from work due to their own sickness or nonwork related injury, the sickness or injury of a family member, or the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child. Introduced and assigned to Senate Insurance & Labor Committee

Helpful Reminder

Red text notes any updates that have occurred since the last newsletter.
‘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.

Project 236

Project 236 is an advocacy tool that can be used to understand the state of maternal and infant health in your legislative district! Outcomes include rates of preterm birth, low birthweight, infant mortality, and prenatal care inadequacy. In this age of virtual advocacy, we hope that this can be used as a way to advocate for improved maternal and infant health in your own backyard.

We encourage you to engage with your legislators on why investment in maternal and infant health is necessary for the health of Georgia’s families. You can access the fact sheet for your district below.

Project 236 Fact Sheets

Keeping Current @ the Capitol – Week of February 8, 2021

Georgia Receives “F” Rating for Tobacco Policies

The American Lung Association gave Georgia “F” ratings for tobacco taxes, prevention funding, access to cessation services, and flavored tobacco products in its “State of Tobacco Control 2021″ report. Georgia has one of the lowest tobacco tax rates in the nation, ranking 49th of 50 states. Currently, the Georgia tobacco tax is only 37 cents per pack, whereas the national average is $1.81 per pack. Raising the tobacco tax to the national average is estimated to generate $400-$500 million in additional revenue, which is needed given the strain COVID-19 has put on Georgia’s healthcare system and rural communities.

HMHBGA supports the American Lung Association’s call to action to increase the state’s tobacco tax and equalize taxes on all related products. Smoking during pregnancy puts moms and babies at higher risk for medical complications including placental hemorrhage, fetal growth restriction, and preterm birth. Maternal smoking during pregnancy and second hand smoke exposure after birth are also significant risk factors for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), which accounts for 11% of infant deaths in Georgia. Raising the cost of tobacco can lower tobacco usage and improve health.

Read the full report here

Advocacy in a Virtual World & Beyond

Join us on February 18 from 11AM-12:30PM. HMHBGA, ​in partnership with the March of Dimes, will hold a​n educational session (via Zoom) on how to advocate for maternal and infant health policies in a virtual age. Things may look different this year and we want to make sure advocates’ voices are being heard! Attendees will be equipped with the tools to uplift policy priorities that are important to them throughout the session.

You will also hear from legislators (pre-recorded) describing how they ​plan to address maternal and infant healthcare issues in 2021 and how these issues may impact Georgia’s families. Winners of the Charlotte Wilen Advocates of the Year Award will also be honored. This award is presented to legislators who made a tremendous difference in the lives of Georgia’s mothers and infants through their efforts during the 2020 legislative session. 

Panelists

Charlotte Wilen Advocates of the Year

REGISTER HERE

Legislation to Watch

The items below are bills we are monitoring throughout the session related to maternal, infant, child, and general health. Legislation on this list is not necessarily endorsed by HMHBGA. 

House Legislation
HB 9 – Telehealth Services in Schools
(Sandra Scott, D – Rex) Would require the Department of Education to develop guidelines for the use of telehealth services in public schools for mental health and behavioral health services. [House Education Committee] No update

HB 11 – 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. Assigned to House Health & Human Services Committee

HB 38 – Repeal Sterilization Procedures 
(Kim Schofield, D – Atlanta) Would repeal certain provisions related to the performance of reproductive sterilization procedures. No update

HB 41 – Health Benefit Plan Network Access and Adequacy Act
(Kim Schofield, D – Atlanta) Would increase consumer access to health care by improving network adequacy and under certain circumstances charge out-of-network services at in-network rates. No update

HB 49 – Mental Health Parity Act 
(Shelly Hutchinson, D – Snellville) Would require mental health substance use services to be treated in line with other health insurance claims. [House Insurance Committee] No update

HB 54 – Menstrual Hygiene Education
(Debra Bazemore, D – South Fulton) Would provide instruction on best practices and risks associated with tampons during sex education and AIDS prevention instruction in core curriculum. [House Education Committee] No update

HB 57 – Breastfeeding in Penal Institutions 
(Sandra Scott, D – Rex) Would provide policies for breast milk storage and the breastfeeding of a newborn, require prenatal and postpartum care, and require the provision of breast pumps in penal institutions. [House Health & Human Services Committee] No update

HB 58 – Georgia Women’s Care Act
(Kim Schofield, D – Atlanta) Would revise provisions related to the arrests of pregnant women, require pregnancy testing upon detention, and enact delayed sentencing for postpartum female inmates. No update

HB 72 – New Mothers Medicaid Expansion Act
(Carolyn Hugley, D – Columbus) Would extend Pregnancy Medicaid to 12 months after delivery. [House Health & Human Services Committee] No update

HB 96 – Presumption in Child Custody Cases
(Jasmine Clark, D – Lilburn) Would revise presumption in cases in which the custody of any child is at issue. [House Juvenile Justice Committee] No update

HB 146 – Paid Parental Leave for State Employees 
(Houston Gaines, R – Athens) Would provide for three weeks of paid parental leave for eligible state employees and eligible local board of education employees following the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child. Assigned to House Health & Human Services Committee

HB 154 – Protection of Children 
(Bert Reeves, R – Marietta) Would strengthen, clarify, and update provisions relating to the protection of children, including foster children and adopted children. Assigned to House Juvenile Justice Committee

HB 163 – Medicaid Express Lane Eligibility 
(Sharon Cooper, R – Marietta) Would implement express lane enrollment, which would automatically enroll and renew eligible children in Medicaid based on SNAP data. Introduced and assigned to House Health & Human Services Committee 

HB 197 – Family Care Act Extension 
(Regina Lewis-Ward, D – McDonough) Would extend the Family Care Act, which allows employees to use sick time to care for immediate family members, to 2025. Introduced and assigned to House Industry & Labor

HB 209 – Medicaid Expansion Program
(Donna McLeod, D – Lawrenceville) Would expand Medicaid coverage to eligible people up to 150% of the federal poverty line. Introduced and assigned to House Health & Human Services

HB 215 – Telehealth Options Under Medicaid
(Mary Robichaux, D – Roswell) Would extend the use of temporary Medicaid telehealth options during the pandemic emergency to a permanent status. Would also provide certification and training to providers through telehealth options. Introduced and assigned to House Health & Human Services Committee

HB 257 – Maternity Supportive Housing Act 
(Ed Setzler, R – Acworth) Would provide registration of maternity supportive housing for pregnant women. Introduced and assigned to Health & Human Services Committee

HB 287 – Tobacco and Vaping Education
(Bonnie Rich, R – Suwanee) Would include tobacco and vapor products in the course of instruction regarding alcohol and drugs required each year for all students in grades kindergarten through 12. Introduced and assigned to House Education Committee

HR 52 – Joint Study Committee on Lead Exposure
(Katie Dempsey, R – Rome) Would create a Joint Study Committee to study prevention of childhood lead exposure. Introduced and assigned to House Health & Human Services Committee

HR 78 – Racism Public Health Crisis
(Sandra Scott, D – Rex) Would declare racism a public health crisis in Georgia. Introduced and assigned to House Human Relations & Aging Committee

Senate Legislation
SB 20 – Child Advocate Advisory Committee
(Chuck Payne, R – Dalton) Would revise the composition of the Child Advocate Advisory Committee to include a foster parent, a former foster child, and a court appointment special advocate (CASA). [Senate Education & Youth Committee] Favorably passed committee

SB 55 – Georgia Family Medical Leave Act 
(Gloria Butler, D – Stone Mountain) Would create a program to compensate wage loss sustained by any individual who is unable to work due to such individual’s own sickness or injury, the sickness or injury of a family member, or the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a new child. Assigned to Senate Insurance & Labor Committee

SB 83 – Medicaid Public Option
(Sally Harrell, D – Atlanta) Would provide for a Medicaid public option program to provide healthcare coverage to individuals not eligible for Medicare, Medicaid, or the PeachCare for Kids Program. Introduced

SR 42 – Family Medical Leave Fund
(Gloria Butler, D – Stone Mountain) Would create a Family Medical Leave Fund as a trust fund from which funds can be used to provide a program for individuals who need to take leave from work due to their own sickness or nonwork related injury, the sickness or injury of a family member, or the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child. Introduced and assigned to Senate Insurance & Labor Committee

Helpful Reminder
Red text notes any updates that have occurred since the last newsletter.
‘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.

Project 236

Project 236 is an advocacy tool that can be used to understand the state of maternal and infant health in your legislative district! Outcomes include rates of preterm birth, low birthweight, infant mortality, and prenatal care inadequacy. In this age of virtual advocacy, we hope that this can be used as a way to advocate for improved maternal and infant health in your own backyard.

We encourage you to engage with your legislators on why investment in maternal and infant health is necessary for the health of Georgia’s families. You can access the fact sheet for your district below.

Project 236 Sheets

Keep Current @ the Capitol – Week of February 1, 2021

House Passes Amended Budget

On January 28, the Georgia House voted (149-20) to pass the amended budget (HB 80) for fiscal year (FY) 2021, which will now be reviewed by the Senate. The amended budget provides updates to the state’s budget through June 30, 2021 and in its current version would increase spending by $654 million. The legislature is required by law to pass the amended 2021 budget and the FY 2022 budget before the end of session. HMHBGA and advocates will continue to monitor the budget to ensure that maternal and infant health funds are protected. Learn more here

So far, the legislature is scheduled to meet through February 8, 2021. The Legislative Calendar has been set as follows: 

  • February 1 – Day 9 
  • February 2 – Day 10 
  • February 3 – Day 11
  • February 4 – Day 12
  • February 8 – Day 13

Advocacy in a Virtual World & Beyond

Join us on February 18 from 11AM-12:30PM. HMHBGA, ​in partnership with the March of Dimes, will hold a​n educational session (via Zoom) on how to advocate for maternal and infant health policies in a virtual age. Things may look different this year and we want to make sure advocates’ voices are being heard! Attendees will be equipped with the tools to uplift policy priorities that are important to them throughout the session.

You will also hear from legislators (pre-recorded) describing how they ​plan to address maternal and infant healthcare issues in 2021 and how these issues may impact Georgia’s families. 

Panelists

Charlotte Wilen Advocates of the Year

REGISTER HERE


Legislation to Watch

The items below are bills we are monitoring throughout the session related to maternal, infant, child, and general health. Legislation on this list is not necessarily endorsed by HMHBGA. 

House Legislation

HB 9 – Telehealth Services in Schools
(Sandra Scott, D – Rex) Would require the Department of Education to develop guidelines for the use of telehealth services in public schools for mental health and behavioral health services. Assigned to House Education Committee

HB 11 – 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. No update

HB 38 – Repeal Sterilization Procedures 
(Kim Schofield, D – Atlanta) Would repeal certain provisions related to the performance of reproductive sterilization procedures. No update

HB 41 – Health Benefit Plan Network Access and Adequacy Act
(Kim Schofield, D – Atlanta) Would increase consumer access to health care by improving network adequacy and under certain circumstances charge out-of-network services at in-network rates. No update

HB 49 – Mental Health Parity Act 
(Shelly Hutchinson, D – Snellville) Would require mental health substance use services to be treated in line with other health insurance claims. Assigned to House Insurance Committee

HB 54 – Menstrual Hygiene Education
(Debra Bazemore, D – South Fulton) Would provide instruction on best practices and risks associated with tampons during sex education and AIDS prevention instruction in core curriculum. [House Education Committee] No update

HB 57 – Breastfeeding in Penal Institutions 
(Sandra Scott, D – Rex) Would provide policies for breast milk storage and the breastfeeding of a newborn, require prenatal and postpartum care, and require the provision of breast pumps in penal institutions. Assigned to House Health & Human Services Committee

HB 58 – Georgia Women’s Care Act
(Kim Schofield, D – Atlanta) Would revise provisions related to the arrests of pregnant women, require pregnancy testing upon detention, and enact delayed sentencing for postpartum female inmates. No update

HB 72 – New Mothers Medicaid Expansion Act
(Carolyn Hugley, D – Columbus) Would extend Pregnancy Medicaid to 12 months after delivery. [House Health & Human Services Committee] No update

HB 96 – Presumption in Child Custody Cases
(Jasmine Clark, D – Lilburn) Would revise presumption in cases in which the custody of any child is at issue. Assigned to House Juvenile Justice Committee

HB 146 – Paid Parental Leave for State Employees 
(Houston Gaines, R – Athens) Would provide for three weeks of paid parental leave for eligible state employees and eligible local board of education employees following the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child. Introduced

HB 154 – Protection of Children
(Bert Reeves, R – Marietta) Would strengthen, clarify, and update provisions relating to the protection of children, including foster children and adopted children. Introduced


Senate Legislation

SB 20 – Child Advocate Advisory Committee
(Chuck Payne, R – Dalton) Would revise the composition of the Child Advocate Advisory Committee to include a foster parent, a former foster child, and a court appointment special advocate (CASA). Introduced and assigned to Senate Education Committee

SB 55 – Georgia Family Medical Leave Act
(Gloria Butler, D – Stone Mountain) Would create a program to compensate wage loss sustained by any individual who is unable to work due to such individual’s own sickness or injury, the sickness or injury of a family member, or the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a new child. Introduced

Helpful Reminder

Red text notes any updates that have occurred since the last newsletter.
‘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.


Project 236

Project 236 is an advocacy tool that can be used to understand the state of maternal and infant health in your legislative district! Outcomes include rates of preterm birth, low birthweight, infant mortality, and prenatal care inadequacy. In this age of virtual advocacy, we hope that this can be used as a way to advocate for improved maternal and infant health in your own backyard.

We encourage you to engage with your legislators on why investment in maternal and infant health is necessary for the health of Georgia’s families. You can access the fact sheet for your district below.

Access Project 236 fact sheets here.

Keeping Current @ the Capitol – Week of January 25, 2021

Budget Week Updates

Last week, the Senate and House Appropriations Committees met to review the state budget. State agencies presented FY 2021 amended and FY 2022 general budgets to the committee. Many agencies saw savings due to the  Families First Coronavirus Response Act and  Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Below are some key takeaways from state agency presentations.

Department of Public Health (DPH)

  • $289,000 in savings to the infant and child essential health treatment program as result of federal COVID-19 aid
  • $229,676 will be restored to HIV & STD programs, which saw cuts last session

Department of Human Services (DHS)

  • The Patient’s First Act is estimated to bring in about $4 million (FY21) and $7.3 million (FY22) for healthcare access 
  • $1.3 million will be used for the state’s Gateway cloud implementation (Gateway is the central portal used to apply for benefit programs in Georgia)

Division of Family & Children Services (DFCS)

  • $3.5 million in savings in FY21 due to federal COVID-19 aid
  • There has been an increase in adoptions and decrease in out of home foster placements for children across the state, leading to agency savings 

Department of Community Health (DCH)

  • $344 million in savings due to federal COVID-19 aid in FY21
  • There has been an increase in utilization of Low-Income Medicaid and PeachCare benefits

You can read more about the state’s budget here

Advocacy in a Virtual World & Beyond

Join us on February 18 from 11AM-12:30PM. HMHBGA, ​in partnership with the March of Dimes, will hold a​n educational session (via Zoom) on how to advocate for maternal and infant health policies in a virtual age. Things may look different this year and we want to make sure advocates’ voices are being heard! Attendees will be equipped with the tools to uplift policy priorities that are important to them throughout the session.

You will also hear from legislators (pre-recorded) describing how they ​plan to address maternal and infant healthcare issues in 2021 and how these issues may impact Georgia’s families. Want to submit a question for our pre-recorded legislative panel? You can do so here

REGISTER HERE

Legislation to Watch
The items below are bills we are monitoring throughout the session related to maternal, infant, child, and general health. Legislation on this list is not necessarily endorsed by HMHBGA. 

2021 HMHBGA Agenda

House Legislation

HB 9 – Telehealth Services in Schools
(Sandra Scott, D – Rex) Would require the Department of Education to develop guidelines for the use of telehealth services in public schools for mental health and behavior health services. No update

HB 11 – 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. No update

HB 38 – Repeal Sterilization Procedures 
(Kim Schofield, D – Atlanta) Would repeal certain provisions related to the performance of reproductive sterilization procedures. No update

HB 41 – Health Benefit Plan Network Access and Adequacy Act
(Kim Schofield, D – Atlanta) Would increase consumer access to health care by improving network adequacy and under certain circumstances charge out-of-network services at in-network rates. No update

HB 49 – Mental Health Parity Act 
(Shelly Hutchinson, D – Snellville) Would require mental health substance use services to be treated in line with other health insurance claims. No update

HB 54 – Menstrual Hygiene Education
(Debra Bazemore, D – South Fulton) Would provide instruction on best practices and risks associated with tampons during sex education and AIDS prevention instruction in core curriculum. Assigned to House Education Committee

HB 57 – Breastfeeding in Penal Institutions 
(Sandra Scott, D – Rex) Would provide policies for breast milk storage and the breastfeeding of a newborn, require prenatal and postpartum care, and require the provision of breast pumps in penal institutions. No update

HB 58 – Georgia Women’s Care Act
(Kim Schofield, D – Atlanta) Would revise provisions related to the arrests of pregnant women, require pregnancy testing upon detention, and enact delayed sentencing for postpartum female inmates. No update

HB 72 – New Mothers Medicaid Expansion Act
(Carolyn Hugley, D – Columbus) Would extend Pregnancy Medicaid to 12 months after delivery. Assigned to Health & Human Services Committee

HB 96 – Presumption in Child Custody Cases
(Jasmine Clark, D – Lilburn) Would revise presumption in cases in which the custody of any child is at issue.  

Senate Legislation

To date, no relevant Senate legislation has been introduced.

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.

Project 236

Project 236 is an advocacy tool that can be used to understand the state of maternal and infant health in your legislative district! Outcomes include rates of preterm birth, low birthweight, infant mortality, and prenatal care inadequacy. In this age of virtual advocacy, we hope that this can be used as a way to advocate for improved maternal and infant health in your own backyard.

We encourage you to engage with your legislators on why investment in maternal and infant health is necessary for the health of Georgia’s families. You can access the fact sheet for your district below.

Project 236 Fact Sheets

Keeping Current @ the Capitol – Week of January 18, 2021

First Week of Session

This week the Georgia General Assembly convened for the 2021 legislative session. All legislators were sworn into the House and Senate and freshman legislators began their first week at the Capitol. The Senate assigned leaders and members for their committees which can be found here.

Governor Brian Kemp delivered his State of the State address before the House and Senate on Thursday, January 14. He shared his priorities, which included the following: 

  • Significant budget increase for the state’s Medicaid programs
  • The restoration of K-12 funds that were cut last year 
  • High-speed internet access for rural communities

Governor Kemp also stated that Georgia will not be facing budget cuts this year! You can read more on the State of the State address here.

Preparing for Budget Week

Joint Appropriations Hearings will be held beginning today, January 19 at 9:00AM. You can find the full agenda here and watch here. Health related agencies will present on the following dates and times:

January 19: 10:00AM – Department of Public Health 
January 21: 8:05AM – Department of Human Services
January 21: 8:30AM – Department of Family and Children Services
January 21: 9:00AM – Department of Community Health 
January 21: 10:00AM – Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities 

Last year, we were thankful to the see the restoration of the following maternal health programs that were originally up for budget cuts: $2 million for Maternal Mortality Prevention $1.05 million for Maternal Mental Health Program $500,000 for Morehouse School of Medicine Center for Maternal Health Equity $60,000 restored for HMHBGA Information & Referral Services We will continue to monitor these line items and the full maternal and infant health program budget as we move into the joint House and Senate budget review process this week. 

Now Live: Project 236

HMHBGA is excited to launch Project 236, an advocacy tool that can be used to understand the state of maternal and infant health in your legislative district! Outcomes include rates of preterm birth, low birthweight, infant mortality, and prenatal care inadequacy. In this age of virtual advocacy, we hope that this can be used as a way to advocate for improved maternal and infant health in your own backyard.

We encourage you to engage with your legislators on why investment in maternal and infant health is necessary for the health of Georgia’s families. You can access the fact sheet for your district here.

Advocacy in a Virtual World & Beyond

Join us on February 18 from 11AM-12:30PM. HMHBGA, ​in partnership with the March of Dimes, will hold a​n educational session (via Zoom) on how to advocate for maternal and infant health policies in a virtual age. Things may look different this year and we want to make sure advocates’ voices are being heard! Attendees will be equipped with the tools to uplift policy priorities that are important to them throughout the session.

You will also hear from legislators (pre-recorded) describing how they ​plan to address maternal and infant healthcare issues in 2021 and how these issues may impact Georgia’s families. Want to submit a question for our pre-recorded legislative panel? You can do so here

REGISTER HERE

Legislation to Watch

The items below are bills we are monitoring throughout the session related to maternal, infant, child, and general health. Legislation on this list is not necessarily endorsed by HMHBGA. 

HMHBGA 2021 Policy Agenda

House Legislation
HB 9 – Telehealth Services in Schools
(Sandra Scott, D – Rex) Would require the Department of Education to develop guidelines for the use of telehealth services in public schools for mental health and behavior health services. 

HB 11 – 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. 

HB 38 – Repeal Sterilization Procedures 
(Kim Schofield, D – Atlanta) Would repeal certain provisions related to the performance of reproductive sterilization procedures. 

HB 41 – Health Benefit Plan Network Access and Adequacy Act
(Kim Schofield, D – Atlanta) Would increase consumer access to health care by improving network adequacy and under certain circumstances charge out-of-network services at in-network rates. 

HB 49 – Mental Health Parity Act 
(Shelly Hutchinson, D – Snellville) Would require mental health substance use services to be treated in line with other health insurance claims. 

HB 54 – Menstrual Hygiene Education
(Debra Bazemore, D – South Fulton) Would provide instruction on best practices and risks associated with tampons during sex education and AIDS prevention instruction in core curriculum. 

HB 57 – Breastfeeding in Penal Institutions 
(Sandra Scott, D – Rex) Would provide policies for breast milk storage and the breastfeeding of a newborn, require prenatal and postpartum care, and require the provision of breast pumps in penal institutions. 

HB 58 – Georgia Women’s Care Act
(Kim Schofield, D – Atlanta) Would revise provisions related to the arrests of pregnant women, require pregnancy testing upon detention, and enact delayed sentencing for postpartum female inmates. 

HB 72 – New Mothers Medicaid Expansion Act
(Carolyn Hugley, D – Columbus) Would extend Pregnancy Medicaid to 12 months after delivery. 

Senate Legislation
To date, no relevant Senate legislation has been introduced.

Keeping Current @ the Capitol – 2021 Session

The 2021 Legislative Session is Here!

The 2021 Georgia General Assembly commenced yesterday, January 11. As always, we will be monitoring legislation that has the potential to impact maternal and infant health outcomes for Georgia families and providers. Every week, we will send out our signature newsletter, Keeping Current @ The Capitol, with updates on legislation, appropriations and other big news from the Gold Dome!

Making your voice heard as a constituent is very important and we encourage you to get involved at any point during the legislative session. You can find your Georgia State legislators here. To learn more about how to get involved directly with HMHBGA this session, email us at: thecoalition@hmhbga.org. 

2021 HMHBGA Legislative & Policy Agenda

Support the extension of pregnancy Medicaid from six months to one year postpartum.
During the 2019 legislative session, the Georgia General Assembly extended the coverage of Pregnancy Medicaid from 60 days to six months postpartum. While this is a great step in improving maternal health, women are at risk for pregnancy-related mortality and morbidity throughout the first year after delivery and Georgia ranks among the worst states in the nation for maternal mortality. Pregnancy Medicaid covers a range of necessary and important medical services for eligible women. When new mothers lose this needed medical coverage after six months, they are no longer able to receive care for conditions that may have arisen during their pregnancy, leaving them at risk for mortality or morbidity in the postpartum period. In fact, 67% of Georgia’s pregnancy-related deaths that occur between 6 months and one year postpartum were determined to be preventable. We support extending pregnancy Medicaid from six months to one year postpartum.  

Ensure adequate funding to the Department of Public Health’s Maternal & Child Health Section.
The Maternal & Child Health Section, under the Georgia Department of Public Health, is the state agency responsible for administering vital maternal and child health programs. Some of these programs include newborn screening, group prenatal care, family planning, neonatal abstinence syndrome prevention, and resource access. The agency also oversees the Maternal Mortality Review Committee and convenes the Georgia Perinatal Quality Collaborative (GaPQC). 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 perinatal period. Vital programs from the Department of Public Health help to address Georgia’s abysmal ranking across maternal and infant health indicators: infant mortality (6th), prematurity (6th), and low birthweight (4th). We support any effort to ensure adequate funding to the Department of Public Health’s Maternal & Child Health Section.

Support legislation to protect pregnant and postpartum employees in the workplace and provide appropriate workplace accommodations.
About 70% of Georgia women of childbearing age are in the workforce. Yet, there are no state-level laws in Georgia that govern workplace protections and accommodations for employees during the full pregnancy and the postpartum period. Currently, 30 states nationwide, including eight southern states, have instituted legislation to ensure pregnant and postpartum employees are protected from discrimination. Reasonable, low-cost accommodations such as adequate water and food-breaks, or access to a seat during the workday, help women stay on the job and support healthy pregnancies. Workplace accommodations help businesses by increasing employee retention and morale as well as reducing turnover. Establishing protections for pregnant and postpartum employees also helps employers avoid costly litigation by giving explicit standards around discrimination.  We support legislation that affords employees reasonable accommodations for a safe and healthy pregnancy and postpartum period.

Support increasing the state tobacco product excise tax on both tobacco and tobacco alternative products. 
Smoking during pregnancy puts moms and babies at higher risk for medical complications including placental hemorrhage, fetal growth restriction, and preterm birth. Maternal smoking during pregnancy and second hand smoke exposure after birth are also significant risk factors for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), which accounts for 11% of infant deaths in Georgia. Raising the cost of tobacco can lower tobacco usage and improve health. Yet, Georgia has one of the lowest tobacco tax rates in the nation, ranking 48th of 50 states. Currently, the Georgia tobacco tax is only 37 cents per pack, whereas the national average is $1.81 per pack. Raising the tobacco tax to the national average is estimated to generate about $500 million in additional revenue, which is needed given the strain COVID-19 has put on Georgia’s healthcare system and rural communities. We support an increase to the state tobacco product excise tax on both tobacco and tobacco alternative products.

Reviewing the 2020 Legislative Session

During the 2020 legislative session we collaborated with partners and stakeholders, in the midst of the pandemic, to successfully advocate for the following:

  • HB 1114 – Allows the Department of Community Health to apply for an 1115 Waiver to extend Pregnancy Medicaid to six months after delivery.
  • HB 1090 – Requires employers to provide reasonable break time to an employee who needs breast milk for their nursing child. 
  • SB 375 –Adds a 7% tax on vaping products and provides penalties for the sale and distribution of vaping and nicotine products for people under the age of 21. 
  • SB 408 –Extends 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. 
  • $3.61 million retained in the state budget for maternal health program funding that was originally up for budget cuts.

Coming Soon: Project 236

HMHBGA is excited to launch Project 236, an advocacy tool that can be used to understand the state of maternal and infant health in your legislative district! Outcomes include rates of preterm birth, low birthweight, infant mortality, and prenatal care inadequacy. In this age of virtual advocacy, we hope that this can be used as a way to advocate for improved maternal and infant health in your own backyard.

How does your district compare to the state of Georgia overall? Is there an area where your Senate district is performing lower? Speak with your Senator about how comprehensive policies can address negative outcomes. Does your House district have outcomes that are better than the state of Georgia? Talk with your Representative about what they can do to make sure it stays that way or even improves. Fact sheets for all 236 of Georgia’s legislative districts will be available next week and information on where to find them will be included in the next Keeping Current @ the Capitol® issue!

Save the Date: Advocating in A Virtual World and Beyond

Save the date for February 18, 2021 from 11:00AM to 12:30PM. HMHBGA, ​in partnership with the March of Dimes, will hold a​n educational session (via Zoom) on how to advocate for maternal and infant health policies in a virtual age. A video will be included describing how Georgia’s legislative leaders ​plan to address maternal and infant healthcare issues in 2021 and how these issues may impact Georgia’s families. More information to come! 

2021 HMHBGA Legislative & Policy Agenda

Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia (HMHBGA) is excited to announce the release of our 2021 Legislative & Policy Agenda. HMHMBGA is dedicated to working with key stakeholders and policymakers to promote sound maternal and infant health policies. During the 2020 legislative session we collaborated with partners and stakeholders, in the midst of the pandemic, to successfully advocate for the following:

  • HB 1114 – Allows the Department of Community Health to apply for an 1115 Waiver to extend Pregnancy Medicaid to six months after delivery.
  • HB 1090 – Requires employers to provide reasonable break time to an employee who needs breast milk for their nursing child. 
  • SB 375  Adds 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 – Extends 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. 
  • $3.61 million retained in the state budget for maternal health program funding

To continue the work of improving the health of mothers and babies across Georgia, during the 2021 legislative session we are actively advocating for:

  • The extension of pregnancy Medicaid from six months to one year postpartum
  • Legislation to protect pregnant and postpartum employees in the workplace and provide appropriate workplace accommodations
  • An increase to the state tobacco product excise tax on both tobacco and tobacco alternative products 
  • The provision of adequate funding to the Department of Public Health’s Maternal & Child Health Section

To review our full 2021 legislative & policy agenda click here. For weekly advocacy updates during the legislative session, follow our e-newsletter Keeping Current @ the Capitol.

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