Keeping Current @ the Capitol: Week of February 26, 2018



HB 877 – Modified Risk Tobacco
(Chad Nimmer, R-Blackshear) A bill to cut the tobacco tax in half for so called “modified risk” tobacco products has passed the House Ways and Means committee and is now in the Rules committee awaiting a vote on the House Floor. Health advocates agree that this is a bad bill because: 1) There is no data to quantify the claim of reduced risk, 2) It will likely create a false sense of safety and actually encourage tobacco use, particularly among minors, and 3) Georgia already has the second lowest tobacco tax in the country.

SPECIFIC TO PREGNANCY: Nicotine is an addictive substance that is toxic to reproduction and interferes with fetal brain development. It may also adversely affect fetal lung development and increase the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). As such, it is best to avoid using e-cigarettes or other nicotine-containing products during pregnancy.

Please contact your State Representative and ask them to vote NO on HB 877.

HMHB Honors 3 Legislators with Wilen Award

This past Tuesday, we honored three incredible lawmakers who made positive impact in the 2017 legislative session for maternal and infant health in Georgia:
Senator Butch Miller (R-Gainesville)
Representative Katie Dempsey (R-Rome)
Representative Jeff Mullis (R-Chicamauga)

“We have the great privilege to honor these three lawmakers who prioritized the needs of Georgia families in accessing healthcare during the 2017 legislative session,” explains Pam Wilkes, HMHB Board President. Read more>


HB 909 – Creation of DPH Perinatal Facilitates
(Deborah Silcox R-Sandy Springs) This bill would allow the Department of Public Health to define and designate Perinatal Facilities in Georgia. Perinatal facility means a hospital, clinic, or birthing center that provides maternal or neonatal healthcare services. The bill is meant to encourage the improvement of quality of care to create better maternal and neonatal outcomes. HMHB strongly supports this legislation.

HB 827 – Increase Value of Rural Hospital Tax Credit to 100%
(Trey Kelley, R-Cedartown) This bill would allow for the full amount of a donation to rural hospitals in Georgia to be considered tax-deductible. The maximum would be $10,000 for jointly filing married couples and corporations and $5,000 for individuals. HB 827 has passed the House and been assigned to the Senate Finance Committee.


SB 344 – Legal Sale of Retail Marijuana
(Curt Thompson, D-Tucker) This bill would provide for the legal sale of retail marijuana in the state. The bill details the regulatory provisions for the sale, distribution, and cultivation of retail marijuana. NO UPDATE.

SB 357 – Health Coordination & Innovation Council
(Dean Burke, R-Bainbridge) This bill would create the Health Coordination and Innovation Council and establish the Health System Innovation Center, with the goal of figuring out how to ensure that more rural Georgians have access to quality health care. SB 357 Passed the Senate with only one no vote. UPDATE: SB 357 has been assigned to the House HHS Committee.

HB 747– Medications for Hemophilia Under Medicaid
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) The bill would allow Medicaid recipients to receive unrestricted access to medications for hemophilia. NO UPDATE.

SB 352 – Commission on Substance Abuse & Recovery
(Renee Unterman, R-Buford) This bill would establish the Commission on Substance Abuse and Recovery and would create a director of Substance Abuse, Addiction, and Related Disorders. This bill is expected to receive its first hearing (and pass) in the coming week. UPDATE: SB 352 passed the Senate unanimously and has been assigned to House HHS Committee.

HB 382 – Place the Georgia Commission on Women Under Department of Public Health
(Jimmy Pruett, R-Eastman) This bill would place the Georgia Commission on Women (GCW) under the purview of the Department of Public Health. The Georgia General Assembly along with Gov. Zell Miller created the GCW in 1992. The mission of the Commission is to advise appointing officers and look at how laws affect women in Georgia and their families.

HB 733– Including Psychiatrists in Loan Forgiveness for Underserved Areas
(Kimberly Alexander, D-Hiram) This bill would expand the service cancelable loan program for health professionals to include psychiatrists who practice in under-served, rural parts of the state. NO UPDATE.

HB 669 – Medicaid Expansion
(Bob Trammell, D-Luthersville) The Minority House Leader introduced a bill that would require Georgia to authorize state dollars to draw down additional federal dollars to expand Medicaid. When asked how the State would fund their portion of the expansion costs, estimated to be between $120-200 million, Rep. Sam Park (D-Lawrenceville) suggested a 50-cent tobacco increase. NO UPDATE.

SB 334 – Georgia Board of Nursing
(Renee Unterman, R-Buford) SB 334 would transfer the Georgia Board of Nursing from the Secretary of State’s office to the Department of Community Health. NO UPDATE.

SB 351 – Independent Practice Authority for APRNs
(Renee Unterman, R-Buford) This bill would make any advanced practice registered nurse eligible to engage as a licensed independent practitioner if they are primarily employed in a rural county. This would include the ability for APRNs to order computed tomography (CT) scans and to prescribe, procure, administer, dispense, and furnish pharmacological agents, including controlled substances. UPDATE: A significantly diminished version of SB 351 passed the Senate HHS committee and awaits a Rules Committee hearing to be scheduled for a Senate Floor vote.

Maternal Mortality
Citing consistently dismal rates in maternal mortality and considering recommendations from the Georgia OB/Gyn Society, House and Senate leaders have converged on addressing maternal mortality in conjunction with the Department of Public Health. Senate Heath leaders, led by Senator Renee Unterman (R-Buford), have signaled that they intend to direct appropriations towards research-based practices to address maternal mortality. NO UPDATE.

Group Prenatal Care
Group Prenatal Care (also referred to as ‘Centering Pregnancy’) is an evidence-based, patient-centered model of group prenatal care. It works to bring patients out of the exam room and into a group setting, helping to build their community of support. This model has gained traction in Georgia and is poised to receive additional funding and support during the 2018 legislative session. HMHB supports funding additional group prenatal care sites in Georgia and supports efforts led by the March of Dimes to make these access points available across the State. NO UPDATE.


Thank You to Our Partners and Volunteers!

On Wednesday, February 21, 2018, advocates and HMHB members from across Georgia attended Infant Mortality Awareness Day at the Capitol. Thanks to our many partners including: Heart of Georgia Healthy Start, Enterprise Community Healthy Start, Atlanta Healthy Start Initiative, Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere and March of Dimes Georgia – we were able to exhibit 1,000 onesies representing each infant death in Georgia during an average year. Attendees spoke with legislators from across Georgia about maternal and infant health priorities.
See our One-Pager on Infant Mortality in Georgia>
See Photos from the event>