Health Care A Major Focus Toward End Of 2019 Session

Mar 27, 2019

The last Monday of the 2019 legislative session was a busy day for health-related measures. 

A bill that would allow Georgia to sidestep some federal health care rules associated with the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid is now on the governor’s desk after passing the state House.

SB 106 would allow Gov. Brian Kemp to seek waivers that could expand healthcare access for some low and middle-class Georgians.

Kemp said he’d like consultants to look at the state’s health care system to see exactly which groups are lacking adequate coverage and could best use the access afforded by the waivers.

"We’re trying to let innovative people do innovative things to an old government program," Kemp told reporters at a press conference.

But House Minority leader Bob Trammell (D-Luthersville) said he’s heard promises about waivers being the solution — and doesn’t buy it.

"I've seen that movie before, and I know how that movie ends," he said during floor debate. "And it ends without Georgians — who we could cover as a legislative body today — not getting healthcare coverage."

Trammell and other Democrats said full Medicaid expansion is the best way to cover the most Georgians.

Meanwhile, the Senate passed a bill tweaking the regulatory process for the state's certificate-of-need program. Medical providers must seek a CON before building a new facility. 

Other health-focused moves Monday include the passage of a needle exchange program to prevent the spread of HIV and increased money in the 2020 budget proposal for things like combating elder abuse and funding for "assistive" technology that can help older residents stay  in their homes longer.