HMHBGA

Keeping Current @ the Capitol – 2022 Session

Author: Ky Lindberg

The 2022 LEGISLATIVE SESSION IS HERE

The 2022 Georgia General Assembly commenced Monday, January 10. 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. 

HOT TOPICS

Yesterday, Governor Kemp hosted his annual State of the State address and released  his recommendations for the regular FY2023 budget for consideration by the legislature. His budget report included several significant investments, specifically for moms, birth givers, and babies. Of particular note is the appropriation to extend postpartum Medicaid to 12 months which has been a key priority for HMHBGA. 

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE GOVERNOR’S BUDGET

OUR LEGISLATIVE AGENDA

THE EXTENSION OF PREGNANCY MEDICAID TO ONE YEAR POSTPARTUM. During the 2019 legislative session the Georgia Assembly recognized the need to improve access to maternal health care in Georgia and extended pregnancy Medicaid from 60 days to 6 months post-partum. While this is a great step in improving maternal health, women are at risk for pregnancy-related mortality and morbidity throughout the entire first year after delivery.  We support extending pregnancy Medicaid from six months to one year postpartum.  

ENSURE  ADEQUATE FUNDING TO THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH’S MATERNAL AND 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, *home visiting, family planning, neonatal abstinence syndrome prevention, peer support groups, and resource access.
We support any effort to ensure adequate funding to the Department of Public Health’s Maternal & Child Health Section.

LEGISLATION TO PROTECT PREGNANT AND POSTPARTUM EMPLOYEES IN THE WORKPLACE AND PROVIDE APPROPRIATE WORKPLACE ACCOMODATIONS. 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. We support legislation that affords employees reasonable accommodations for a safe and healthy pregnancy and postpartum period.

INCREASING THSE 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. We support an increase to the state tobacco product excise tax on both tobacco and tobacco alternative products.

DOULA MEDICAID REIMBURSEMENT FOR PRENATAL, BIRTH, AND POSTPRTUM. While Georgia’s provider shortage has been well-documented, less attention has been paid to the lack of perinatal support professionals serving families in our state. Women and birthing people receiving doula care have been found to have improved health outcomes for both themselves and their infants, including higher breastfeeding initiation rates, fewer low-birth weight babies, and more. We support legislation that provides for Medicaid coverage for doula services which improves maternal and infant outcomes in Georgia through increased, equitable awareness and access to full spectrum doula care for birthing person, especially those with the fewest resources.

INCREASE ACCESS TO ADEQUATE ORAL HEALTHCARE THROUGHOUT THE PERINATAL PERIOD. Dental care during pregnancy is an essential part of health management. Pregnant women are at risk for a host of poor oral health outcomes that not only affect the mother, but also the baby. Due to poor oral health in pregnancy, pregnant women can experience premature delivery, low birth weight baby, pre-eclampsia, gingival tissue ulcerations, pregnancy granuloma, gingivitis, pregnancy tumors (epulis gravidarum), loose teeth, mouth dryness, and dental erosions. We support legislation to increase access and awareness to adequate oral healthcare for pregnant women covered by Medicaid in Georgia.

A Tool for Advocating: 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.

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 are available.

CLICK HERE to access Project 236

Save the Date: MATERNAL AND INFANT HEALTH POLICY BRIEFING

We invite you to join our 2022 Virtual Maternal and Infant Health Policy Briefing on February 10, 2022. During these unprecedented times, understanding the state of maternal and infant health in our State so that we can improve the health and well-being of our moms and babies is more important than ever. Attendees will explore maternal and infant health data to deepen their understanding and learn about policy priorities that, if adopted, would be pivotal in increasing health outcomes for moms and babies in our State. We will also hear from State policymakers about what they plan to tackle in the year ahead and how these issues may impact Georgia’s families. We hope you’ll join our community of advocates and changemakers!