HMHBGA

2020 Legislative Session Wrap Up

Author:

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 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.

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. 

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