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


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
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