Department of Community Health: The House Appropriations Committee passed the proposed DCH budget for 2012.  The Health Appropriations Subcommittee made the changes to the Governor’s proposed bill, a few of which are highlighted below:

  • Changes Medicaid certification period to 12 months, rather than the current 6-month period
  • Restores $1.5 million in state funds for the Children 1st Program
  • Transfers $1.3 million in funds to DCH from DHS to streamline enrollment in Medicaid and in WIC
  • Kept in place the optional benefit coverage for adult vision, dental, and podiatry services, to the Medicaid Aged, Blind, Disabled enrollees
  • Decreased the provider reimbursement cut by ½, resulting in a total proposed cut of 0.5%
  • Despite concerns raised by Voices and other provider groups, the Health Appropriations Subcommittee did not make any changes to the proposed implementation of co-pays for enrollees in PeachCare for Kids

Department of Human Services Budget: The House Appropriations Committee also passed the proposed DHS budget for 2012.  Among the changes by subcommittee were:

  • Inclusion of $680,000 to provide 15 waivers for youth who are scheduled to age out of the state foster care system
  • Increased funding for 400 new slots for child care services
  • Transfer of $1.3 mil to DCH for fast-tracking enrollment among Medicaid and WIC enrollees
  • Restoration of proposed cuts to Marcus Institute
  • Rejection of the proposed transfer of Georgia Family Connection Partnership to move under the purview of the Georgia Office of Children and Families

Medicaid Fingerprinting: A substitute to SB 63 (Sen. Albers, 56th) was submitted by Senator Johnny Grant (Dist. 25) and the sub passed favorably out of the full Senate Insurance Committee with one dissenting vote from Sen. Nan Orrock (Dist.26).  The substitute is similar to the original in that its intent is to decrease incidence of Medicaid fraud, but the bill was stripped of the requirement that a biometric identity verification process must be used.  Instead, the bill calls for the use of a “smart card” to verify identification and provides that the department may also use biometric technology to verify the identity of Medicaid enrollees.  The vote came after a rather lengthy hearing, at which about 11 different individuals testified, the majority of whom stated concerns about the original bill.

Department of Public Health: HB 214 (Rep. Mickey Channell, dist. 116), which would establish a separate Department of Public Health, passed out of the House this past week.  The bill is being carried in the Senate by Sen. Greg Goggans (7th).

Health Exchange: HB 476 (Rep. Richard Smith, Dist. 131) would establish the Georgia Health Exchange Authority, a governance body to oversee planning for a health insurance exchange for Georgia.  The bill passed favorably out of subcommittee and the full House Insurance Committee by substitute this past week.  The only change included in the substitute was to move up by a few weeks the date by which this advisory committee must issue its report.