Keeping Current @ the Capitol – Week of June 8, 2020
Georgia General Assembly Expected to Resume June 15
The Georgia General Assembly plans to return to session on June 15. The legislative session was suspended on March 13 (legislative day 29) due to concerns about the potential spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Virtual and in-person committee meetings began in May and will continue before the start of session. Learn more about the session reconvening here.
Budget Cuts Impact on Maternal Mortality Prevention
The current COVID-19 pandemic coupled with Georgia’s maternal mortality crisis has brought a range of concerns highlighting the need for continued access to medical care in the postpartum period. The changing environment caused by the pandemic may complicate issues facing new mothers. Due to our overwhelmed healthcare system, access to preventive and postpartum care is limited, which may have long-term effects for Georgia’s mothers and babies. Additionally, isolation related to social distancing may affect perinatal anxiety and depression especially when caring for a new baby.
In response to revenue shortfalls, state agencies were originally told they had to cut their budgets by 14%, which was later reduced to 11%, no exceptions. The state budget for fiscal year 2021 (July 2021-June 2022) must be approved and passed before June 30, with adjustments made as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Agencies are also expecting to use federal block grants to reduce state funds. Below are some of the proposed cuts that will affect Georgia’s maternal mortality prevention efforts.
- $1.5 million in Maternal Mortality Prevention (line 243.3)
- $1,047,540 in the Maternal Mental Health Program (line 243.4)
- $600,000 in Rural Perinatal Satellites (line 249.1)
- $4,455,484 in Morehouse School of Medicine operating grant which will affect the Center for Maternal Health Equity (line 99.1)
The current COVID-19 pandemic coupled with Georgia’s maternal mortality crisis has brought a range of concerns highlighting the need for continued access to medical care in the postpartum period. The changing environment caused by the pandemic may complicate issues facing new mothers. Due to our overwhelmed healthcare system, access to preventive or postpartum care is limited, which may have long-term effects for Georgia’s mothers and babies. Below are some of the maternal mortality prevention initiatives HMHBGA supports:
- Maternal Mortality Prevention: Implements recommendations from the Maternal Mortality Review Committee including addressing severe hypertension and hemorrhage (leading causes of pregnancy-related death).
- Maternal Mental Health Program: Would provide resources, referrals, and psychiatric consultations to providers of pregnant and postpartum women as well as train providers to screen, refer and treat maternal mental health disorders in rural and underserved areas.
- Rural Perinatal Satellites: Support maternal infant health services in rural Georgia through prenatal/postpartum education, support services, breastfeeding support, and the provision of needed maternal and infant supplies.
- Center for Maternal Health Equity at Morehouse School of Medicine: Resource center for training of providers, students on comorbidities contributing to maternal mortality, and implementing best practices/safety bundles. Would also engage and train local communities on maternal mortality prevention.
What Can You Do to Help?
You can contact your state elected officials (find here) to advocate for the restoration of maternal health funds and support for postpartum Medicaid extension. Call or email your Representative and Senator to ask for the following:
- Restoration of $1.5 million for the Maternal Mortality Prevention Program
- Restoration of $1,047,540 for the Maternal Mental Health Program
- $500,000 appropriation to support Morehouse School of Medicine’s Center for Maternal Health Equity
- Support for HB 1114 (Pregnancy Medicaid Extension to Six Months) and inclusion of the $19.7 million allocation in the state budget
What Can We Expect?
The state budget for fiscal year 2021 (July 2021-June 2022) must be approved and passed before June 30, with adjustments made as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the Georgia General Assembly reconvening June 11, it is still unclear which bills will be considered. The legislature may take on a limited number of priority or time sensitive bills. Below are a number of bills HMHBGA supports that may be considered in June.
- HB 1114 (Cooper, R-Marietta) Pregnancy Medicaid Extension to Six Months
- HB 1090 (Silcox, R-Sandy Springs) Workplace Break Time to Express Breast Milk
- HB 1094 (Gaines, R-Athens) Paid Parental Leave for State Employees
- SB 327 (Karinshak, D-Duluth) Workplace Break Time to Express Breast Milk
- SB 375 (Mullis, R-Chickamauga) Cigarettes and Tobacco Products Relating to Minors
- SB 408 (Strickland, R-McDonough) Family Care Act Sunset Removal
- Funds maintained related to maternal mortality reduction initiatives retained in the supplemental FY20 budget
- $19.7 million in the proposed FY21 budget for Pregnancy Medicaid extension to six months
The link below will take you to our official 2020 legislative agenda. The items below are bills we are monitoring throughout the session. Legislation on this list is not necessarily endorsed by HMHBGA.
House Bills Still in Play
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. [House Health & Human Services Committee]
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. [Senate Health & Human Services]
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. [Health & Human Services]
HB 888 – Surprise Billing Consumer Protection Act
(Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville) Would provide protection for consumers from surprise medical bills. [Senate Health & Human Services]
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. [House Juvenile Justice Committee]
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. [House Juvenile Justice Committee]
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. [House Health & Human Services]
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. [House Health & Human Services]
HB 1094– Paid Parental Leave for State Employees
(Houston Gaines, R-Athens) Would provide three weeks of paid parental leave for state employees. Leave would be provided for the birth of a child, adoption of a child, or foster placement of a child. [Senate Insurance & Labor]
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. [Senate Health & Human Services]
Senate Bills Still in Play
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. [House Special Committee On Access to Quality Health Care]
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. [House Health & Human Services Committee]
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. [Senate Insurance & Labor Committee]
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. [House Special Committee On Access to Quality Health Care]
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. [House Health & Human Services]
SB 375 – Cigarettes and Tobacco Products Relating to Minors
(Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga) Would provide penalties for people under the age of 21 for selling and distribution of vaping and nicotine products for people under the age of 21. Would also define vapor products. [Regulated Industries and Utilities]
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. [House Special Committee On Access to Quality Health Care]
SB 408– Family Care Act Sunset Removal
(Brian Strickland, R-McDonough) Would remove the sunset date the Family Care Act, which allows employees use of sick leave for care of immediate family members. Without the removal of the sunset, the Family Care Act would be repealed on July 1, 2020.