Infant Immunization

Help Babies Thrive During National Infant Immunization Week

Infant Immunization

Did you know that April 27-May 4 is the 25th anniversary of National Infant Immunization Week? During this week, hundreds of communities across the United States are joining to celebrate the critical role vaccination plays in protecting our children, communities, and public health. Since 1994, NIIW has focused attention on the benefits of maintaining high immunization rates in the community, state, and nation.

Vaccines play a critical role in reducing infant mortality and morbidity. NIIW is a great opportunity for the maternal and child health (MCH) community—including nurses, social workers, childbirth educators, and community advocates—to show parents that you strongly support on-time vaccination. It’s also a good chance to let parents know that on-time vaccination is the norm, despite what they might hear in the media.

Some parents may have questions about the recommended immunization schedule or wonder why it’s so important to follow. The recommended immunization schedule is designed to protect babies early in life, when they are vulnerable and before it’s likely that they will be exposed to diseases. When parents choose not to vaccinate or to follow a delayed schedule, children are left unprotected against diseases that still circulate in this country, like measles and whooping cough.

You may have heard about recent measles outbreaks in New York, Washington State, and other communities. From January 1 to April 19, 2019, 626 individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 22 states. This is the second-greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since measles was eliminated in 2000. Whooping cough, or pertussis, is also on the rise. Since 2010, we have seen between 10,000 and 50,000 cases of pertussis each year in the United States with up to 20 infant deaths. Most whooping cough deaths are among babies who are too young to be protected by their own vaccination. For this reason, pregnant women should receive a dose of the tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid, and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine during each pregnancy, preferably during the early part of weeks 27 through 36.

Although immunization rates are high nationally, CDC’s 2017 National Immunization Survey showed that vaccination coverage among children living below the federal poverty level was lower for many routinely recommended childhood vaccines. Uninsured, underinsured, and Medicaid-insured children are eligible for the Vaccines For Children (VFC) program. VFC is a federally funded program that provides vaccines at no cost to children who might not otherwise be vaccinated because of inability to pay. MCH professionals can encourage families to talk to their child’s doctor about the VFC program if they are unable to pay for vaccines.

Healthcare professionals remain parents’ most trusted source of information about vaccines for their children. Other MCH professionals can also help support parents in understanding and choosing vaccinations. This NIIW, take some time to make sure you are communicating as effectively as possible with parents. CDC has resources to help you talk with parents about vaccines for infants and prepare for questions parents may ask. We also have resources to share with parents, including an easy-to-read immunization schedule and Infant Immunization FAQs, both available in English and Spanish. Parents can also learn how vaccines work by watching our new series of short, animated videos. For more information, visit cdc.gov/vaccines.

PRESS ADVISORY: Inspiring Mothers of Georgia (4/28)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: PRESS ADVISORY

CONTACT: Mica Whitfield – 678-302-1130
mica.whitfield@hmhbga.org

April 23, 2018 Atlanta, GA – Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia (HMHB) is proud to announce the winners of the 2019 Inspiring Mothers of Georgia Awards.

After receiving nominations from across the State from many communities, six honorees were selected for their embodiment of the essential characteristics for the award: strength, kindness, caring, sacrifice and generosity.

“These women have not only demonstrated these qualities as mothers and family members, but have also made great contributions to their communities,” says Pam Wilkes, Board President of HMHB. “We cannot wait to celebrate them, their families and their community impact this Sunday.”

2019 Inspiring Mothers of Georgia Honorees:

congrats 2019 inspiring mothers

Our Inspiring Mothers’ full bios can be found at this link.

Each of the honorees will be presented their award, along with gifts and prizes from their communities, on April 28, 2019 at HMHB’s 3rd Annual Mother’s Day Luncheon & Inspiring Mothers of Georgia Awards Celebration at Loudermilk Conference Center. Media may RSVP to: thecoalition@hmhbga.org.

Featuring:

Keeping Current @ The Capitol: Week of March 25th

Week of March 25, 2019:

With the last day of the General Assembly on April 2, 2019, this is the last full week of the legislative session. Policymakers will be working hard to get their bills through Committees in the opposite chamber and to the chamber floor before next Tuesday. Some bills that have amendments from the opposite chamber will need to come back to the originating chamber for what is called an ‘agree’ before it can receive a final vote.

The Senate has also put in their version of the FY20 State Budget and the Conference Committee has been assigned to finalize the budget this week. The Conference Committee is made up of members from the Appropriations Committee in both chambers.

Georgia State Capitol

Georgia State Capitol

Senate Updates

SB 16 – Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Act
(Kay Kirkpatrick, R-East Cobb) Would authorize the Georgia Composite Medical Board to administer the compact in this state. Passed the Senate and the House.

SB 18 – Direct Primary Care Act
(Kay Kirkpatrick, R-East Cobb) Would ensure that providers who are giving care to patients for an agreed upon fee, and does not bill a third-party for services rendered, must inform the patient that the agreement is not the same as insurance. It also exempts primary care agreements from the same regulation as health insurance. Passed the Senate and the House.

SB 56 – Consumer Coverage & Protection for Out-of Network Medical Care Act
(Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome) Would establish standards for carriers and health care providers with regard to payment under a managed care plan in the provision of emergency medical care and increase transparency for consumers in said plans. Assigned to Insurance.

SB 106 – Patients First Act
(Blake Tillery, R-Vidalia) Would allow the State to submit a 1115 Medicaid Demonstration Waiver to increase Medicaid coverage to those who are at or below 100% of the Federal Poverty Line. The Patients First Act was approved yesterday by the House. It now moves to the Governor’s desk for signature.

SB 115 – Telemedicine Practice
(Renee Unterman, R-Buford) Would allow physicians who are licensed to practice telemedicine in other states to practice telemedicine in Georgia. Assigned to Health & Human Services in the House.

House Updates

HB 12 – Quality Basic Education Act
(Rick Williams, R-Milledgeville) Would require every public school to post a sign containing the toll-free telephone number operated by the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services to receive reports of child abuse or neglect. Assigned to Education & Youth in Senate.

HB 26 –  Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact
(Dave Belton, R-Buckhead) Would allow psychologists licensed in participating states to facilitate telehealth and temporary in-person, face-to-face practice of psychology across jurisdictional boundaries. Substitute version of bill passed Interstate Cooperation Committee. Assigned to Health & Human Services in the Senate.

HB 62 – Margie’s Law
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) Would require that if a patient’s mammogram demonstrates dense breast tissue, the health care facility that conducted the mammogram shall provide notification to the patient. Substitute version of bill passed House Health & Human Services. Passed House & Senate. Moves to Governor’s desk for signature.

HB 63 – Step Therapy Protocols
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) Would require health benefit plans to establish step therapy protocols. Passed the full Senate yesterday – goes to the House for an agree.

HB 158 – HIV/AIDS Program Access for Medicaid Recipients
(Debora Silcox, R-Sandy Springs) Would ensure that Medicaid recipients have the same access to antiretroviral regimens used to treat HIV and AIDS as to those included in the formulary established for the Georgia AIDS Drugs Assistance Programs. Passed Senate yesterday.

HB 187 – Obesity Management Pilot Program
(Katie Dempsey, R-Rome) Would provide for a pilot program at the Department of Community Health to provide coverage for the treatment and management of obesity and related conditions. Assigned to Health & Human Services in Senate.

HB 217 – Needle Exhange Program
(Houston Gaines, R-Athens) Would decriminalize the act of working or volunteering for a syringe services program, a step towards legalizing the programs. Distributing clean hypodermic syringes and needles to people who use injection drugs (e.g. heroin) helps to prevent the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C. Passed full Senate yesterday.

HB 228 – Raise Minimum Age of Marriage
(Andrew Welch, R-McDonough) Would change the minimum age of marriage of a child from 16 to 17 years of age and to require any person who is 17 years of age to have been emancipated, correct a cross-reference cited in child custody proceedings laws, provide for requirements for filing a petition for emancipation for petitioners who desire to enter into a marriage, and repeal conflicting laws related to the issue with the aim of preventing forced or coerced marriages involving children. Passed Senate Judiciary and goes to Senate floor for vote.

HB 233 – Pharmacy Anti-Steering and Transparency Act
(David Knight, R-Griffin) Would address referral practices that may limit or eliminate competitive alternatives in the healthcare services market and that may result in overutilization of health care services. Specifically addresses pharmacies that are an affiliate of the healthcare system where the patient has been prescribed medication to avoid conflicts of interest. Passed Senate Health & Human Services unanimously yesterday.

HB 287 – Preceptor Tax Credit
(Matt Dubnik, R-Gainesville) Would create income tax credit for licensed physicians, advanced practice registered nurses, or physician assistants who provide uncompensated preceptorship training to medical students, advanced practice registered nurse students, or physician assistant students. Passed Senate Finance and moves to Senate floor for vote.

HB 290 – PrEP Pilot Program at DPH
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) Would create a three-year pilot program under the Department of Public Health that would provide preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) drug assistance to people who are at risk of being infected with HIV. Passed Health & Human Services and moves to Senate floor for vote.

HB 321 – Medicaid Financing Program
(Jodi Lott, R-Evans) Would extend the sunset provision of the hospital provider fee for five years. The hospital payment program, which draws down additional federal funding, provides almost $1 billion annually to the state’s Medicaid budget. Substitute passed Senate Finance yesterday – added transparency measures included in new version.

HB 324 – Georgia’s Hope Act
(Micah Gravley, R-Douglasville) Would allow for the legal production, manufacturing, purchase, and sale of THC oil in Georgia. Certain individuals who suffer from a list of qualified disease may currently possess THC oil, but they cannot legally buy THC oil in the state – this bill would allow for that transaction. Assigned to Regulated Industries & Utilities in Senate.

HB 345 – Dignity for Incarcerated Women
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) Would ensure that no restraints of any kind are used on a woman who is in the second or third trimester of pregnancy, in labor, in delivery, or in the immediate postpartum period while incarcerated. Also ensures that no pregnant women would be subject to a squat and cough search or vaginal exam unless prescribed and performed by a licensed healthcare professional. David Dreyer, D-Atlanta, also filed a dignity for incarcerated women bill – HB 475 – it did not move forward. HMHB strongly supports this legislation and thanks Chairwoman Cooper and Representative Dreyer for their leadership on this important issue.  HB 345 passed Senate Health & Human Services unanimously yesterday! It will now go to the Senate floor for a vote.

ACTION ALERT: Now that HB 345 has passed Committee, it moves to the Senate for a full vote. Please contact your SENATOR and ask them to vote YES on HB 345 – Dignity for Incarcerated Women! Find your Senator at: https://openstates.org/ 

HB 481 – Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act
(Ed Setzler, R-Acworth) Would place restrictions on accessing abortion care. Legislation would only allow abortions to take place up until there is a detectible heartbeat, which is typically during the first six weeks of pregnancy. Bill makes exceptions for abortions in cases of rape, incest or if the life of the mother is in danger. Current Georgia law allows abortions up to 20 weeks without exception. Senate Passed Substitute – goes back to House for Agree.

HB 514 – Mental Health Reform and Innovation Commission

(Kevin Tanner, D-Dawsonville) Would create the Georgia Mental Health Reform and Innovation Commission, which would be responsible for conducting a comprehensive review of the mental health system in the state. Assigned to Health & Human Services in the Senate. Senate Passed Substitute – goes back to House for Agree.

Keeping Current @ The Capitol: Week of March 18th

Week of March 18, 2019:

Charles Johnson Receives Senate Proclamation
Today, HMHB Program Advisory Committee member, 2017 Wetzel Award Winner and maternal mortality advocate received a proclamation in his honor delivered by Senators Burt Jones (R-25th) and Freddie Powell Sims (D-12th). “I am here as a guest, but I am also here to respectfully demand that the General Assembly take bipartisan action to address our maternal mortality crisis in Georgia,” said Johnson as he addressed the Senate body. Charles Johnson lost his wife, Kira Johnson, during a routine, scheduled c-section. Charles founded 4Kira4Moms and has been advocating for measurable change to address the maternal mortality epidemic both in Georgia and across the United States. He was accompanied by his family members, friends, and the HMHB team. You can read the full proclamation online.

ACTION ALERT:
House Bill 345 – Preventing shackling of incarcerated pregnant and postpartum women  – will be heard on Wednesday at 3 PM in Senate HHS. Please contact Chairman Watson and members of the Committee to let them know you support this critical legislation! See list here.

Session Ends April 2 – Have You Met With Your Representatives?
HMHB will resume regular legislative updates next week. In the meantime, we want to make sure you have been able to connect with your elected Senator and Representative in the Georgia General Assembly! Need some help? We are happy to help you research what your elected officials have supported for maternal and infant health, as well as how they can be influential on pending legislation this session. Email us at thecoalition@hmhbga.org. You can also find your legislators by entering your address at https://openstates.org/

Enjoying These Updates?
We are happy to provide up-to-date information on what is happening under the Gold Dome that impacts our collective work across Georgia to improve maternal and infant health. If these updates have been useful to you, or if you are supportive of our legislative agenda, we hope you will consider making a donation in support of our advocacy work on behalf of Georgia’s families. All donations are tax-deductible. Thank you for your support!

Keeping Current @ The Capitol: Week of March 4th

Week of March 4, 2019:
Thursday is Crossover Day!
Thursday, March 7, 2019, is Crossover Day! This is the last day that a bill originating in one chamber must pass so that it can go over to the other chamber for consideration. For example, a House bill must go through committee and be passed by the full House by Crossover Day in order to be considered in the Senate. If a bill doesn’t make it past its original chamber by Crossover Day, it is effectively dead for the year. You can expect a flurry of activity this week as legislators rush to get their bills passed, and Thursday meetings and votes will likely last well into the evening.

Legislative Updates (New Additions)

HB 31HOUSE BUDGET – APPROVED
On Thursday of last week, Chairman Terry England (R-Auburn) presented the State Budget to full chambers. The budget was approved and is now moving on to the Senate Appropriations Committee and related sub-committees for review and changes. Of particular importance to maternal and infant health were the following line items:

  • $1,047,540 to establish a Maternal Mental Health Program at DPH (includes a telepsychiatry consult line, workforce development and data collection).
  • $200,000 for additional Abstractors for the Maternal Mortality Review Committee.
  • $2,349,649 for newborn screening to include four additional disorders that have been approved by the Georgia Newborn Screening Advisory Committee.
  • $500,000 to establish a Center of Excellence on Maternal Mortality at Morehouse School of Medicine.
  • $152,826 to provide funds for DPH to implement perinatal facility designation pursuant to the passage of HB 909 (2018 session)
  • $500,000 for HMHB to establish two perinatal support satellites in Wilcox and Jenkins Counties. HMHB requested for funds to support satellites in six counties, one for each perinatal region. The counties selected have consistently poorer than state average outcomes for infant mortality, low birthweight, prematurity and inadequate prenatal care access and have no prenatal services or education in existence. These counties are Randolph, Appling, Wilcox, Jenkins, Rabun & Meriwether.

HB 233Pharmacy Anti-Steering and Transparency Act
(David Knight, R-Griffin) would address referral practices that may limit or eliminate competitive alternatives in the healthcare services market and that may result in overutilization of health care services. Specifically addresses pharmacies that are an affiliate of the healthcare system where the patient has been prescribed medication to avoid conflicts of interest. Passed the House.

HB 514Mental Health Reform and Innovation Commission
(Kevin Tanner, D-Dawsonville) would create the Georgia Mental Health Reform and Innovation Commission, which would be responsible for conducting a comprehensive review of the mental health system in the state.

HB 521Temporary Licensure – Dentists
(Houston Gaines, R-Athens) would allow dentists who are licensed in other states to receive a temporary license in Georgia to perform services on low-income patients.

SB 228Statute of Limitations on Childhood Sexual Abuse
(Burt Jones, R-Jackson) would extend the statute of limitations for actions for childhood sexual abuse in certain circumstances.

Legislative Updates (Previously Reported – Senate)

WATCHING OUT FOR:
SB 4Establish Private Lactation Room at the State Capitol
(Jen Jordan, D-North Atlanta) would establish a private lactation room open to the public in either the Capitol Building or the Paul D. Coverdell Legislative Office Building. Passed State Institutions and Property. We hope this legislation that uplifts the importance of supporting mothers and breastfeeding will get through the Senate for Crossover!

SB 16Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Act
(Kay Kirkpatrick, R-East Cobb) would authorize the Georgia Composite Medical Board to administer the compact in this state. Passed Senate Health and Human Services. Passed Senate, moves to House.

SB 18Direct Primary Care Act
(Kay Kirkpatrick, R-East Cobb) would ensure that providers who are giving care to patients for an agreed upon fee, and does not bill a third-party for services rendered, must inform the patient that the agreement is not the same as insurance. It also exempts primary care agreements from the same regulation as health insurance. Substitute version of bill passed Senate Health and Human Services. Passed Senate, assigned to Insurance in House.

SB 28Establish Restrictions on Co-Payments and Co-Insurance
(Lester Jackson, D-Savannah) would prohibit certain insurers from imposing a copayment, coinsurance, or office visit charge in an amount greater than such charges imposed for physician or osteopath services to an insured for services rendered by a physical therapist, occupational therapist, or chiropractor.

SB 36Authorizes Funds for Medicaid Expansion
(Steve Henson, D-Stone Mountain) would authorize the appropriations for the purposes of obtaining federal financial participation for medical assistance payments to providers of Medicaid expansion under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act.

SB 56Consumer Coverage & Protection for Out-of Network Medical Care Act
(Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome) Would establish standards for carriers and health care providers with regard to payment under a managed care plan in the provision of emergency medical care and increase transparency for consumers in said plans. Substitute version of bill passed Insurance and Labor.

SB 85Early Childcare Scholarship
(Steve Henson, D-Stone Mountain) Would establish an early childcare scholarship program to be managed by the Department of Education.

SB 106Patients First Act
(Blake Tillery, R-Vidalia) Would allow the State to submit an 1115 Medicaid Demonstration Waiver to increase Medicaid coverage to those who are at or below 100% of the Federal Poverty Line. Passed Senate. Assigned to Special Committee On Access to Quality Health Care in the House.

SB 115Telemedicine Practice
(Renee Unterman, R-Buford) Would allow physicians who are licensed to practice telemedicine in other states to practice telemedicine in Georgia. Passed Science and Technology and the Senate. Assigned to Health & Human Services in the House.

Legislative Updates (Previously Reported – House)

WATCHING OUT FOR:
HB 345Dignity for Incarcerated Women
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) Would ensure that no restraints of any kind are used on a woman who is in the second or third trimester of pregnancy, in labor, in delivery, or in the immediate postpartum period while incarcerated. Also ensures that no pregnant women would be subject to a squat and cough search or vaginal exam unless prescribed and performed by a licensed healthcare professional. David Dreyer, D-Atlanta, has also filed a dignity for incarcerated women bill – HB 475. HMHB strongly supports this legislation and thanks Chairwoman Cooper and Representative Dreyer for their leadership on this important issue. HB 345 passed unanimously out of HHS last week. We hope that HB 345 will make it through the House for Crossover Day!

HB 8Tax Exemption for Menstrual Products
(Debbie Buckner, D-Junction City) Would exempt sales tax for the sale or use of products with the primary purpose of absorbing or capturing menstrual flow, including but not limited to tampons, menstrual pads and sanitary napkins, panty liners, menstrual sponges, and menstrual cups. Assigned to Ways & Means Committee.

HB 10Education on Risks Associated with Tampon Use
(Debra Bazemore, D-Riverdale) Would require sex education and AIDS education instruction to include information on the risks associated with tampon use. Would also encourage physicians and nurses providing a tampon for use by any female patient under his or her care to recite and provide certain written information to such female patient regarding the best practices for and risks associated with the use of tampons.

HB 12Quality Basic Education Act
(Rick Williams, R-Milledgeville) Would require every public school to post a sign containing the toll-free telephone number operated by the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services to receive reports of child abuse or neglect. Passed House Education Committee.

HB 17Criminal Penalty for Smoking in Vehicle with Child Under 13
(Sandra Scott, D-Rex) Would make it a criminal offense to smoke inside a vehicle with any child under the age of 13. Assigned to Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.

HB 26 Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact
(Dave Belton, R-Buckhead) Would allow psychologists licensed in participating states to facilitate telehealth and temporary in-person, face-to-face practice of psychology across jurisdictional boundaries. Substitute version of bill passed Interstate Cooperation Committee. Passed the House. Assigned to Health & Human Services in the Senate.

HB 37Expand Medicaid Now Act
(Bob Trammell, D-Luthersville) Minority Leader, Representative Bob Trammell, introduced this legislation which would authorize appropriations to draw down federal dollars for Medicaid expansion in Georgia as defined under the Affordable Care Act. It would allow coverage for Georgians up to 138% of the Federal Poverty Level. Assigned to Appropriations.

HB 62Margie’s Law
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) Would require that if a patient’s mammogram demonstrates dense breast tissue, the health care facility that conducted the mammogram shall provide notification to the patient. Substitute version of bill passed House Health & Human Services. Passed House & Senate. Moves to Governor’s desk for signature.

HB 63Step Therapy Protocols
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) Would require health benefit plans to establish step therapy protocols. Passed House Insurance Committee. Passed House. Assigned to Insurance and Labor in Senate.

HB 80Child Support Cooperation Act of 2019
(Bill Werkheiser, R-Glennville) Would require individuals to cooperate with the child support enforcement program as a condition of eligibility for food stamps.

HB 84Consumer Protections – Health Insurance
(Richard Smith, R-Columbus) Includes several provisions related to proactively informing consumers about out-of-network costs related to healthcare services. Passed Insurance Committee in House.

HB 133Quality Basic Education Act – Medically Accurate Sex Education
(Clark Jasmine, D-Tucker) Would require that any course of study in sex education and HIV, and AIDS prevention instruction is medically accurate for those grades and grades levels in public school systems which is determined by the State Board of Education.

HB 158HIV/AIDS Program Access for Medicaid Recipients
(Debora Silcox, R-Sandy Springs) Would ensure that Medicaid recipients have the same access to antiretroviral regimens used to treat HIV and AIDS as to those included in the formulary established for the Georgia AIDS Drugs Assistance Programs. Passed House. Assigned to Health and Human Services in Senate.

HB 178 Establish Assisted Outpatient Treatment Program
(Don Hogan, R-St. Simon’s Island) Would create a unit within the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities to support the coordination of procedures for an assisted outpatient treatment program (court-mandated).

HB 187Obesity Management Pilot Program
(Katie Dempsey, R-Rome) provide for a pilot program at the Department of Community Health to provide coverage for the treatment and management of obesity and related conditions. Passed House. Assigned to Health and Human Services in Senate.

HB 188Rescind ‘Positive Alternatives’ Grant Program
(Renitta Shannon, D-Decatur) would repeal the Positive Alternatives for Pregnancy and Parenting Grant Program.

HB 198Certificate of Need for Healthcare Facilities
(Matt Hatchett, R-Dublin) Would eliminate certificate of need requirements for all health care facilities except certain long-term care facilities and services. Substitute version passed the Special Committee On Access to Quality Health Care. Moves on to Rules.

HB 228 – Raise Minimum Age of Marriage
(Andrew Welch, R-McDonough) Would change the minimum age of marriage of a child from 16 to 17 years of age and to require any person who is 17 years of age to have been emancipated, correct a cross-reference cited in child custody proceedings laws, provide for requirements for filing a petition for emancipation for petitioners who desire to enter into a marriage, and repeal conflicting laws related to the issue with the aim of preventing forced or coerced marriages involving children. Passed House. Assigned to Judiciary in Senate.

HB 290PrEP Pilot Program at DPH
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) Would create a three-year pilot program under the Department of Public Health that would provide preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) drug assistance to people who are at risk of being infected with HIV. Substitute version of bill passed House Health & Human Services. Passed House, moves to Senate.

HB 324Georgia’s Hope Act
(Mandy Ballinger, R-Canton) Would edit current code to allow for those who live together or have lived together, and/or have had a past or current pregnancy to be able to file for an order of protection in the case of family violence. Substitute version passed Regulated Industries.

Keeping Current @ The Capitol: Week of February 25th

Week of February 25, 2019:
Certificate of Need Reform Moves After Hearing Yesterday
HB 198 (Matt Hatchett, R-Dublin) was approved by a 10-4 vote in the special House committee on health care access yesterday. This was after contentious testimony from a number of healthcare groups last week on how dramatic changes to the Certificate of Need process might affect healthcare in Georgia. You can read the details in a recent article from Georgia Health News.

Legislative Updates (New Additions)

HB 133 – Quality Basic Education Act – Medically Accurate Sex Education
(Clark Jasmine, D-Tucker) Would require that any course of study in sex education and HIV, and AIDS prevention instruction is medically accurate for those grades and grades levels in public school systems which are determined by the State Board of Education.

HB 198– Certificate of Need for Healthcare Facilities
(Matt Hatchett, R-Dublin) Would eliminate the certificate of need requirements for all health care facilities except certain long-term care facilities and services. Passed the Special Committee On Access to Quality Health Care. Moves on to Rules.

HB 228 – Raise Minimum Age of Marriage
(Andrew Welch, R-McDonough) Would change the minimum age of marriage of a child from 16 to 17 years of age and to require any person who is 17 years of age to have been emancipated, correct a cross-reference cited in child custody proceedings laws, provide for requirements for filing a petition for emancipation for petitioners who desire to enter into a marriage, and repeal conflicting laws related to the issue with the aim of preventing forced or coerced marriages involving children. Passed Juvenile Justice.

SR 201 – Recognize February 27, 2019 as Rural Health Day
(Jack Hill, R-District 4) provided a resolution commending the Georgia Rural Health Association and recognizing February 27, 2019, as Rural Health Day at the state capitol because Georgia has 120 rural counties encompassing more than a million residents, with a continuing decline in the availability and quality of health care providers, specialists, nurses, and professional services; and these geographic areas have the highest cancer and cardiovascular mortality rates and infant mortality, child abuse, and teen pregnancy rates, and the growing uninsured population and elderly population with multiple diseases far exceed the area’s health care resources. Senate Read and Adopted.

Legislative Updates (Previously Reported- Senate)

SB 4 – Establish Private Lactation Room at the State Capitol
(Jen Jordan, D-North Atlanta) would establish a private lactation room open to the public in either the Capitol Building or the Paul D. Coverdell Legislative Office Building. Passed State Institutions and Property.

SB 16 – Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Act
(Kay Kirkpatrick, R-East Cobb) would authorize the Georgia Composite Medical Board to administer the compact in this state. Passed Senate Health and Human Services. Passed Senate, moves to House.

SB 18 – Direct Primary Care Act
(Kay Kirkpatrick, R-East Cobb) would ensure that providers who are giving care to patients for an agreed upon fee, and does not bill a third-party for services rendered, must inform the patient that the agreement is not the same as insurance. It also exempts primary care agreements from the same regulation as health insurance. Substitute version of bill passed Senate Health and Human Services. Now in Rules.

SB 28 – Establish Restrictions on Co-Payments and Co-Insurance
(Lester Jackson, D-Savannah) would prohibit certain insurers from imposing a copayment, coinsurance, or office visit charge in an amount greater than such charges imposed for physician or osteopath services to an insured for services rendered by a physical therapist, occupational therapist, or chiropractor.

SB 36 – Authorizes Funds for Medicaid Expansion
(Steve Henson, D-Stone Mountain) would authorize the appropriations for the purposes of obtaining federal financial participation for medical assistance payments to providers of Medicaid expansion under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act.

SB 56 – Consumer Coverage & Protection for Out-of-Network Medical Care Act
(Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome) Would establish standards for carriers and health care providers with regard to payment under a managed care plan in the provision of emergency medical care and increase transparency for consumers in said plans. Substitute version of the bill passed Insurance and Labor.

SB 85 – Early Childcare Scholarship
(Steve Henson, D-Stone Mountain) Would establish an early childcare scholarship program to be managed by the Department of Education.

SB 106 – Patients First Act
(Blake Tillery, R-Vidalia) Would allow the State to submit an 1115 Medicaid Demonstration Waiver to increase Medicaid coverage to those who are at or below 100% of the Federal Poverty Line. Passed Senate Health and Human Services.

SB 115 – Telemedicine Practice
(Renee Unterman, R-Buford) Would allow physicians who are licensed to practice telemedicine in other states to practice telemedicine in Georgia. Passed Science and Technology.

Legislative Updates (Previously Reported- House)

HB 8– Tax Exemption for Menstrual Products 
(Debbie Buckner, D-Junction City) Would exempt sales tax for the sale or use of products with the primary purpose of absorbing or capturing menstrual flow, including but not limited to tampons, menstrual pads and sanitary napkins, panty liners, menstrual sponges, and menstrual cups. Assigned to Ways & Means Committee.

HB 10 – Education on Risks Associated with Tampon Use
(Debra Bazemore, D-Riverdale) Would require sex education and AIDS education instruction to include information on the risks associated with tampon use. Would also encourage physicians and nurses providing a tampon for use by any female patient under his or her care to recite and provide certain written information to such female patient regarding the best practices for and risks associated with the use of tampons.

HB 12 – Quality Basic Education Act
(Rick Williams, R-Milledgeville) Would require every public school to post a sign containing the toll-free telephone number operated by the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services to receive reports of child abuse or neglect.

HB 17 – Criminal Penalty for Smoking in Vehicle with Child Under 13
(Sandra Scott, D-Rex) Would make it a criminal offense to smoke inside a vehicle with any child under the age of 13. Assigned to Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.

HB 26 – Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact
(Dave Belton, R-Buckhead) Would allow psychologists licensed in participating states to facilitate telehealth and temporary in-person, face-to-face practice of psychology across jurisdictional boundaries. Substitute version of bill passed Interstate Cooperation Committee. Passed the House on Monday.

HB 37 – Expand Medicaid Now Act
(Bob Trammell, D-Luthersville) Minority Leader, Representative Bob Trammell, introduced this legislation which would authorize appropriations to draw down federal dollars for Medicaid expansion in Georgia as defined under the Affordable Care Act. It would allow coverage for Georgians up to 138% of the Federal Poverty Level. Assigned to Appropriations.

HB 62 – Margie’s Law
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) Would require that if a patient’s mammogram demonstrates dense breast tissue, the health care facility that conducted the mammogram shall provide notification to the patient. Substitute version of bill passed House Health & Human Services. Passed House, moved to Senate. Passed Senate Health and Human Services.

HB 63 – Step Therapy Protocols
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) Would require health benefit plans to establish step therapy protocols. Passed House Insurance Committee. Passed House, moves to Senate.

HB 80 – Child Support Cooperation Act of 2019
(Bill Werkheiser, R-Glennville) Would require individuals to cooperate with the child support enforcement program as a condition of eligibility for food stamps.

HB 84 – Consumer Protections – Health Insurance
(Richard Smith, R-Columbus) Includes several provisions related to proactively informing consumers about out-of-network costs related to healthcare services.

HB 158 – HIV/AIDS Program Access for Medicaid Recipients
(Debora Silcox, R-Sandy Springs) Would ensure that Medicaid recipients have the same access to antiretroviral regimens used to treat HIV and AIDS as to those included in the formulary established for the Georgia AIDS Drugs Assistance Programs. Passed House Health & Human Services. Passed House, moves to Senate.

HB 178 – Establish Assisted Outpatient Treatment Program
(Don Hogan, R-St. Simon’s Island) Would create a unit within the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities to support the coordination of procedures for an assisted outpatient treatment program (court-mandated).

HB 187 – Obesity Management Pilot Program
(Katie Dempsey, R-Rome) provide for a pilot program at the Department of Community Health to provide coverage for the treatment and management of obesity and related conditions. Passed House Health & Human Services.

HB 188 – Rescind ‘Positive Alternatives’ Grant Program
(Renitta Shannon, D-Decatur) would repeal the Positive Alternatives for Pregnancy and Parenting Grant Program.

HB 290 – PrEP Pilot Program at DPH
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) Would create a three-year pilot program under the Department of Public Health that would provide pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) drug assistance to people who are at risk of being infected with HIV. Substitute version of the bill passed House Health & Human Services.

HB 324 – Georgia’s Hope Act
(Micah Gravley, R-Douglasville) Would allow for the legal production, manufacturing, purchase, and sale of THC oil in Georgia. Certain individuals who suffer from a list of qualified disease may currently possess THC oil, but they cannot legally buy THC oil in the state – this bill would allow for that transaction.

HB 331 – Protective Orders and Intimate Partner Violence
(Mandy Ballinger, R-Canton) Would edit the current code to allow for those who live together or have lived together, and/or have had a past or current pregnancy to be able to file for an order of protection in the case of family violence.

HB 345– Dignity for Incarcerated Women
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) Would ensure that no restraints of any kind are used on a woman who is in the second or third trimester of pregnancy, in labor, in delivery, or in the immediate postpartum period while incarcerated. Also ensures that no pregnant women would be subject to a squat and cough search or vaginal exam unless prescribed and performed by a licensed healthcare professional. HMHB strongly supports this legislation and thanks Chairwoman Cooper for her leadership on this important issue. This bill will be heard today in HHS at 2 PM.

Keeping Current @ the Capitol: Week of February 18th

Week of February 18, 2019:

Medicaid Bill Gets Hearing Today
The ‘Patients First Act’ – 
SB 106 will receive a hearing today in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee at 1:00PM. This bill was introduced last week by Republican leadership and would approve an 1115 demonstration waiver to increase Medicaid coverage to those who are at or below 100% of the Federal Poverty Level in Georgia. You can watch online here.

Senator Kay Kirkpatrick (R-East Cobb) answers questions at last week’s press conference regarding SB 106 – the Patients First Act

Legislative Updates (New Additions)

SB 85 – Early Childcare Scholarship
(Steve Henson, D-Stone Mountain) Would establish an early childcare scholarship program to be managed by the Department of Education.
SB 106 – Patients First Act
(Blake Tillery, R-Vidalia) Would allow the State to submit an 1115 Medicaid Demonstration Waiver to increase Medicaid coverage to those who are at or below 100% of the Federal Poverty Line.
SB 115 – Telemedicine Practice 
(Renee Unterman, R-Buford) Would allow physicians who are licensed to practice telemedicine in other states to practice telemedicine in Georgia.
HB 290 – PrEP Pilot Program at DPH
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) Would create a three-year pilot program under the Department of Public Health that would provide preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) drug assistance to people who are at risk of being infected with HIV.
HB 324 – Georgia’s Hope Act
(Micah Gravley, R-Douglasville) Would allow for the legal production, manufacturing, purchase, and sale of THC oil in Georgia. Certain individuals who suffer from a list of qualified diseases may currently possess THC oil, but they cannot legally buy THC oil in the state – this bill would allow for that transaction.
HB 331 – Protective Orders and Intimate Partner Violence
(Mandy Ballinger, R-Canton) Would edit the current code to allow for those who live together or have lived together, and/or have had a past or current pregnancy to be able to file for an order of protection in the case of family violence.
HB 345 Dignity for Incarcerated Women
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) Would ensure that no restraints of any kind are used on a woman who is in the second or third trimester of pregnancy, in labor, in delivery, or in the immediate postpartum period while incarcerated. Also ensures that no pregnant women would be subject to a squat and cough search or vaginal exam unless prescribed and performed by a licensed healthcare professional. HMHB strongly supports this legislation and thanks Chairwoman Cooper for her leadership on this important issue. 

Legislative Updates (Previously Reported-Senate)

SB 4 – Establish Private Lactation Room at the State Capitol
(Jen Jordan, D-North Atlanta) would establish a private lactation room open to the public in either the Capitol Building or the Paul D. Coverdell Legislative Office Building. Passed State Institutions and Property.
SB 16 – Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Act
(Kay Kirkpatrick, R-East Cobb) would authorize the Georgia Composite Medical Board to administer the compact in this state. Passed Senate Health and Human Services. Passed Senate, moves to House.
SB 18 – Direct Primary Care Act
(Kay Kirkpatrick, R-East Cobb) would ensure that providers who are giving care to patients for an agreed upon fee, and does not bill a third-party for services rendered, must inform the patient that the agreement is not the same as insurance. It also exempts primary care agreements from the same regulation as health insurance. Substitute version of the bill passed Senate Health and Human Services.
SB 28 – Establish Restrictions on Co-Payments and Co-Insurance
(Lester Jackson, D-Savannah) would prohibit certain insurers from imposing a copayment, coinsurance, or office visit charge in an amount greater than such charges imposed for physician or osteopath services to an insured for services rendered by a physical therapist, occupational therapist, or chiropractor.
SB 36 – Authorizes Funds for Medicaid Expansion
(Steve Henson, D-Stone Mountain) would authorize the appropriations for the purposes of obtaining federal financial participation for medical assistance payments to providers of Medicaid expansion under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act.
SB 56 – Consumer Coverage & Protection for Out-of-Network Medical Care Act
(Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome) Would establish standards for carriers and health care providers with regard to payment under a managed care plan in the provision of emergency medical care and increase transparency for consumers in said plans.

Legislative Updates (Previously Reported-House)

HB 8 – Tax Exemption for Menstrual Products
(Debbie Buckner, D-Junction City) Would exempt sales tax for the sale or use of products with the primary purpose of absorbing or capturing menstrual flow, including but not limited to tampons, menstrual pads and sanitary napkins, panty liners, menstrual sponges, and menstrual cups. Assigned to Ways & Means Committee.
HB 10 – Education on Risks Associated with Tampon Use
(Debra Bazemore, D-Riverdale) Would require sex education and AIDS education instruction to include information on the risks associated with tampon use. Would also encourage physicians and nurses providing a tampon for use by any female patient under his or her care to recite and provide certain written information to such female patient regarding the best practices for and risks associated with the use of tampons.
HB 12 – Quality Basic Education Act
(Rick Williams, R-Milledgeville) Would require every public school to post a sign containing the toll-free telephone number operated by the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services to receive reports of child abuse or neglect.
HB 17 – Criminal Penalty for Smoking in Vehicle with Child Under 13
(Sandra Scott, D-Rex) Would make it a criminal offense to smoke inside a vehicle with any child under the age of 13. Assigned to Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
HB 26 –  Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact
(Dave Belton, R-Buckhead) Would allow psychologists licensed in participating states to facilitate telehealth and temporary in-person, face-to-face practice of psychology across jurisdictional boundaries. Substitute version of the bill passed Interstate Cooperation Committee.
HB 37 –  Expand Medicaid Now Act
(Bob Trammell, D-Luthersville) Minority Leader, Representative Bob Trammell, introduced this legislation which would authorize appropriations to draw down federal dollars for Medicaid expansion in Georgia as defined under the Affordable Care Act. It would allow coverage for Georgians up to 138% of the Federal Poverty Level. Assigned to Appropriations.
HB 62 – Margie’s Law
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) Would require that if a patient’s mammogram demonstrates dense breast tissue, the health care facility that conducted the mammogram shall provide notification to the patient. Substitute version of bill passed House Health & Human Services. Passed House, moves to Senate.
HB 63 – Step Therapy Protocols
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) Would require health benefit plans to establish step therapy protocols. Passed House Insurance Committee. Passed House, moves to Senate.
HB 80 – Child Support Cooperation Act of 2019 
(Bill Werkheiser, R-Glennville) Would require individuals to cooperate with the child support enforcement program as a condition of eligibility for food stamps.
HB 84 – Consumer Protections – Health Insurance
(Richard Smith, R-Columbus) Includes several provisions related to proactively informing consumers about out-of-network costs related to healthcare services.
HB 158 – HIV/AIDS Program Access for Medicaid Recipients
(Debora Silcox, R-Sandy Springs) Would ensure that Medicaid recipients have the same access to antiretroviral regimens used to treat HIV and AIDS as to those included in the formulary established for the Georgia AIDS Drugs Assistance Programs. Passed House Health & Human Services.
HB 178 – Establish Assisted Outpatient Treatment Program
(Don Hogan, R-St. Simon’s Island) Would create a unit within the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities to support the coordination of procedures for an assisted outpatient treatment program (court-mandated).
HB 187 – Obesity Management Pilot Program
(Katie Dempsey, R-Rome) provide for a pilot program at the Department of Community Health to provide coverage for the treatment and management of obesity and related conditions. Passed House Health & Human Services.
HB 188 – Rescind ‘Positive Alternatives’ Grant Program
(Renitta Shannon, D-Decatur) would repeal the Positive Alternatives for Pregnancy and Parenting Grant Program.

Upcoming Events @ the Capitol

Georgia Women’s Day at the Capitol – This Thursday!
The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute and YWCA of Greater Atlanta have organized the Georgia Women’s Lobby Day on February 21, 2019.
 
From the organizers:
We invite you to join women from across Georgia to come together for Georgia Women’s Lobby Day on Feb. 21 from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the Old City Council Chambers in Atlanta City Hall, one block away from the state Capitol. The event will be a woman-centered gathering to showcase, celebrate and inspire Georgia women to flex their civic engagement muscle while the state legislature debates spending and policy priorities.
The event is free, features breakfast and includes a fantastic lineup of speakers. In addition, attendees will:
  • Hear the latest high-level data on the status of women in Georgia related to critical metrics including wealth and wages, health, education, entrepreneurship and more
  • Learn about legislation moving in the state legislature
  • Send a strong message to legislators that women are paying attention and are engaged in the public policy debate
  • Get a taste of how the state legislature works
  • Get briefed on positive, proactive solutions to increase the economic prosperity, safety and well-being of all Georgia women.

Georgia Ranks Poorly on Maternal and Infant Health -Quality Prenatal Education Can Change That

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
PRESS ADVISORY CONTACT: Mica Whitfield- 678-302-1130
mica.whitfield@hmhbga.org

 

February 7, 2019 – Atlanta, GA  Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia (HMHBGA) finds need for quality content offered in prenatal education curriculums across the State. HMHBGA released findings from a research project entitled, An Evaluation of Current Prenatal Education Availability and Receptivity to Online Education in the State of GeorgiaThe study took an in-depth look at prenatal education offered across the State and whether online or mobile-based apps can help ensure pregnant families are getting critical health information to address persistent gaps and disparities.

 

“Georgia currently holds some of the poorest national rankings for maternal and infant health and the findings from this evaluation further speak to the need for patient empowerment through health literacy,” said Mica Whitfield, Program Coordinator at Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies.

Benefits of prenatal education include: increased knowledge about preterm labor, postpartum care, and safe sleep practices, less false labor admissions, and increased early skin-to-skin contact. Prenatal education has the ability to educate women on vital signs and symptoms, can encourage them to seek medical attention, and can increase their likelihood of following medical advice. Additionally, women who attend prenatal education exhibit increased decision-making during delivery.

“Our earlier pilot for the study revealed that only 10-18% of women receive in-person prenatal education outside of their prenatal appointments. These results provide an important understanding of the status of health education for pregnant women in Georgia.”

GEORGIA STUDY RESULTS
A total of 216 providers from across Georgia were surveyed for the purposes of the study. The results of the research project revealed that overwhelmingly, pregnant patients are not receiving information on HIV/STI prevention, health insurance literacy and oral healthcare in pregnancy. Providers were also asked about their receptiveness to an online or mobile-based app. Overall, 68% of providers surveyed reported that they would be very likely to refer their patients to an online or mobile-based app, citing low attendance for in-person classes and the ability for online to help those in rural areas without reliable transportation.

Providers shared the following feedback:
-“Many of our patients are unable or unwilling to travel for classes.
Having classes online would be a helpful resource.”
-“The education in prenatal visits is limited and affordability for private classes is an issue for many. Regardless of socioeconomic status, all
birthing families need education.”
-“Mothers are not coming to traditional classes, they prefer online. Meets today’s mothers’ needs.”

Interestingly, patients interviewed via focus groups wanted additional information on postpartum care and cesarean sections. One participant stated, “It’s like after you have the baby, you’re deserted.” Patients expressed an interest in online or mobile-based prenatal education, noting that they would be more likely to use an online or app platform if referred by their care provider.

“The inclusion of health and insurance literacy in our prenatal education programs is vital to adequate healthcare access across the State. HMHB will be developing referral guides and toolkits to help educators and providers across the State to address the lack of options for women to receive comprehensive prenatal education”, says Elise Blasingame, Executive Director of Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia.

“We will also launch a publicly available site for mothers and families across Georgia to access prenatal education for those who cannot access in-person classes or would like supplemental information.”HMHBGA is available to discuss the research findings and answer any additional questions concerning the report. Media requests can be sent to mica.whitfield@hmhbga.org 

This research project was funded by the Georgia Health Foundation.
Read the Full Report Here

5 Things We Learned at the OBGyn Society Conference

In August, Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia attended the Georgia OB/GYN Society Annual Meeting & Conference. This year the event took place at The Cloister in Sea Island, Georgia. HMHB was able connect with physicians from across the State and inform them of the work that we do to improve maternal and infant health. Take a moment and check out our Instagram and Facebook for photos and videos of the Conference. In addition, below we’ve listed (5) things we learned during our time in Sea Island at the OB/GYN Society Annual Meeting & Conference. Enjoy!

We Can Do Better on Measuring Blood Loss Postpartum
We learned a great deal from the representatives from our Regional Perinatal Centers in Georgia. They had a great display where providers could guess how many grams of blood they believed were present in surgical cloths presented. Providers at multiple conferences guessed anywhere 300 ccs to 1200 ccs. The actual weight? 660 ccs. That is a huge discrepancy! Just goes to show, guessing the weight by eyesight is just not accurate. When a woman’s life is on the line, that measurement can make all the difference in alerting the care team to take action. We are appreciative of the Perinatal Regional Centers and their continued efforts to support hospitals as they train staff to accurately measure postpartum blood loss.

We also met the folks at Gauss Surgical who created a machine and software platform that can help providers in the operating room to accurately measure blood loss in multiple ways.

Triton Overview from Gauss Surgical on Vimeo.

High Risk and Pregnant? Ask for Optum. 
We met with folks from Optum who provide OB home visiting for high-risk patients. They serve women with Medicaid and private insurance. For those enrolled in the program, Optum provides specialized needs of high-risk OB members in the comfort of their homes with 24/7 nurse availability, pharmacy support, education and more. They claim that results include 50 percent decrease in spontaneous preterm birth risks. There is no out of pocket cost for the patient. Any OB provider can refer a patient to the program.

Integrated Baby Background Software Can Simplify Registration & Improve Data Quality
Baby’s Background was developed in consultation with Genesis Systems, Inc. Genesis is the leading provider of Vital Records in the United States. Genesis noticed that during the course of operations that some of the information collected by birth clerks is collected after birth, usually while the new mom is busy with the baby, or recuperating from the birthing process. This timing creates an opportunity for misinformation to be provided. Baby’s Background was designed with the intent to reduce these issues, to ensure that the information collected is more accurate. Baby’s Background found that it was better to capture this information before the expectant mother delivers. Baby’s Background will use the information that is entered into the system to create the Hospital Information form for the new mother. This form can then be printed and taken to the nurse/birth clerk at the hospital. Baby’s Background also the opportunity to pre-order baby’s State issued Certified Birth Certificate.

GaPQC Initiatives and Commitment
The Georgia Perinatal Quality Collaborative (GaPQC), aims to identify and implement quality improvement strategies to improve maternal and neonatal care and outcomes in Georgia. GaPQC shared with us their maternal initiative that prioritizes AIM Safety Bundles and Postpartum Placement of long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs). The initiative focuses on implementation of data-driven, evidence-based best practices bundled to standardize and track outcomes. Currently, GaPQC is focused on implementation of Obstetric Hemorrhage and Severe Hypertension Safety Bundles. This is in line with the recommendations from the Maternal Mortality Review Committee reports from 2012-2013 case reviews. Secondly, the long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARCs) initiative enables recipients to access this method of family planning in the immediate post-partum period. LARCs have proven to be a reliable and frequently desired option for reducing unintended pregnancy and promoting spacing between childbearing.

Rural Counties Committed to Health
HMHB is committed to serving the entire State of Georgia, particularly rural counties with decreased access to services, which is why we met with community stakeholders in Appling County on our way to the OBGyn Society Conference last week. Appling County has a population of 18,428 and has a county health ranking of 133/159, but the residents there are determined to turn that around! Through a grant from the Healthcare Georgia Foundation, the county created the Coalition for a Healthy Appling County. The mission is to transform the Appling County community by ensuring access to healthcare, improving access to resources, engaging in strong collaborative alliances, and developing a universal message to communicate health for all. We met some of the coalition members that included the County Manager, Chamber of Commerce, Appling County Cooperative Extension, and the Department of Public Health. We applaud the efforts of Appling County to prioritize the health of their community!

Want to learn more about amazing products on the market for maternal and child health? Hear from experts and network with maternal and child health professionals? Join us at the 2018 HMHB Annual Meeting & Conference on October 22-23, 2018.  Click here for more information and registration!

DISCLAIMER: This blog post is not an ad, just an outline of some cool things we learned at the OBGyn Society Conference. HMHB did not receive any compensation for this blog post or related stories from any company.

An Unexpected Policy to Help Mothers and Children Thrive

Georgia ranks poorly when it comes to the well-being of mothers and children. Georgia ranks the fifth-highest in infant mortality rate and sixth-lowest in meeting the need for publicly-funded women’s health services, according to America’s Health Rankings. Many strategies are needed to improve maternal and child health in Georgia, though one of the most promising policy tools to help mothers and their children flourish might surprise you: tax credits. By effectively boosting a family’s income, tax credits can yield far-reaching and long-term benefits, especially for moms and kids. Taxes might not typically be associated with health, but one credit has been called a “highly cost-effective” way to improve health.

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is one of the most successful and well-researched tax credits in the U.S. Established in 1975, the EITC is a federal program with a history of broad support that provides a bottom-up tax cut for working families. After filing their tax returns, eligible households receive a credit that averages about $3,000 depending on income and family size. More than 1 million working Georgia families with low-to-moderate incomes claimed the EITC in 2015, bringing about $3 billion into communities across the state. These 1 million families include an estimated 770,000 working mothers and 1.2 million children. 

Researchers have linked the EITC to better mental health for moms, as well as lower infant mortality and healthier birthweight for babies. During pregnancy, mothers receiving the EITC are also more likely to access prenatal care and less likely to smoke or drink alcohol. Children in families receiving the credit also saw health benefits that could extend into adulthood. Larger EITC payments were associated with improvements in children’s behavioral health, including measures of anxiety and depression. The credit also reduces childhood poverty, which can help children avoid the early onset of some illnesses as adults.

In addition to improving health outcomes, the EITC is linked to a range of benefits, including better achievement in school, increased workforce participation and higher lifetime earnings. The policy has earned bipartisan support over the decades and has been strengthened by leaders from both parties. Twenty-nine states — including recent addition South Carolina — also build on the benefits of the federal EITC with similar credits to lower families’ state taxes. Georgia isn’t on the list yet, though state lawmakers have discussed proposals to enact a “Georgia Work Credit” in recent years.

If state lawmakers were to pass a Georgia Work Credit, researchers estimate that Georgia could achieve an 8.4 percent decline in births of babies with low birth weight*. That translates to more than 1,000 children born each year with healthier weights and more promising futures. Georgia’s leaders could make that vision a reality when the next state legislative session begins in January 2019.

Public health professionals, tax policy experts and advocates for working families will gather at the Rollins School of Public Health next week to continue this conversation and explore other ways for tax policy to improve health. To learn more about how taxes and fiscal policy affect maternal and child health, register for the free breakfast briefing scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 28.

*Estimates for improvement in birth weight for Georgia were generated by authors of the study Markowitz, et al using data from the National Center for Health Statistics’ Linked Birth/Infant Death Records data for 2007-2014, accessed at http://wonder.cdc.gov/lbd-current.html