You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘heathcare reform’ category.

For detailed information on these bills, use the Legislation Tracker tool on our website.

HB 47: Allowing out-of-state insurance policies to be sold in Georgia.  Status:  Passed the House and Senate.

SB 17:  Establishing the Special Advisory Commission on Mandated Health Insurance Benefits.  Status:  Passed the Senate and House.

HB 132:  Insurers to provide coverage for physician prescribed medical foods. Status:  Remains in the House Insurance Committee.  This issue will most likely be dealt with by the Commission on Insurance Mandates established by SB 17 (above), should that bill become law.

HB 65: Allowing siblings or children of adopted people to access adoption files for medical treatment.  Status:  Remains in House Judiciary Committee, but the same language was added to SB 172 (below), which passed both chambers and awaits the Governor’s signature.

HB 187:  Department of Community Health to select single administrator for Medicaid and PeachCare for Kids dental.  Status:  Remains in the House Health and Human Services Committee.

HB 229:  Provides that in certain matters related to administrative hearings and appeals under Medicaid, the decision of the administrative law judge shall be the final administrative decision of the commissioner.   Status:  Given a Do Pass recommendation by the House Judiciary Committee, and then withdrawn in the House and recommitted.

HB 214:  Creates a Department of Public Health.  Status: Signed into law by the Governor.

SB 88:  Increasing age requirement from six to eight for use of car child restraint systems.  Status:  SB 88 has passed the Senate and House.

HB 227:  Would allow local board of education policies authorizing school personnel to administer auto-injectable epinephrine to students who are having an anaphylactic adverse reaction.  Status:  Passed the House and Senate.

HB 345:  Children and pregnant women who are legal aliens to be eligible for Medicaid and PeachCare programs.  Status: Currently rests in the House Judiciary Committee.

HB 432:  Employers to allow employees to use sick leave to care for immediate family members.  Status:  Rests in House Industrial Relations.

HB 461:  Creating multi-state health care compact to move authority to regulate health care to the States.  Status:  Signed into law by the Governor.  An interstate compact, however, will require Congressional approval and signature of the President of the United States to become viable.

HB 476:  Creating exchanges to facilitate sale of health plans for individuals and small group employers.  Status:  This bill was actually on the House Debate Calendar on Crossover Day, but was pulled off the calendar at the last minute by the House leadership and at the request of the Governor’s office, who would like to further review the legislation.

SR 55:  Amending Constitution to ensure that people are not forced to join a health care system.  Status:  Failed.  Has not been reconsidered.

SB 63:  Calls for the use of a “smart card” to verify identification of Medicaid recipients and provides that the department may also use biometric technology to verify the identity of Medicaid enrollees.  Status:  Passed the Senate on Crossover Day after much debate on the floor.  Currently rests in the House Health and Human Services Committee.

SB 288 would allow pharmacists and nurses to administer vaccines under the terms of vaccine protocol agreements with physicians.  The previous law provided that pharmacists and nurses were restricted to only administering influenza vaccines under the protocol agreements with physicians. Status:  Has been assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

HB 633:  Dropped towards the end of the 2011 session, this bill would require Department of Human Services to establish a state-wide system for reporting child abuse and suspected child abuse through the use of a toll-free telephone number and an Internet website, provide that any information reported to the system would remain confidential other than for law enforcement or government statistical purposes and require that any person reporting information on child abuse to the system be given civil immunity from prosecution.  Status: Has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.

So now, we keep moving forward to fully implement all provisions of the health law, the Affordable Care Act, here in Georgia. We continue working toward establishing an insurance exchange for the state and streamlining enrollment processes for health coverage within Medicaid, PeachCare for Kids, and within the Exchange.

For those who want to keep score, with this most recent decision, our “court count” stands at: 

  • 2 courts who ruled to uphold the law;
  • 12 courts who outright dismissed the constitutional challenges;
  • 1 court who ruled the individual mandate provision unconstitutional; and
  • 1 court who ruled the entire law unconstitutional.

Many believe that this case eventually will be heard by the Supreme Court, but there’s no clear idea of when that will happen. What we do know is that the Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land, and Georgia must fully comply with all requirements under the law. 

Looking forward it’s difficult to predict how long the legal fight will continue.   But looking back, we can witness how our state already has benefitted since the law was passed. Insurance companies can no longer drop coverage when children get sick. Insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to children based on a pre-existing condition.  And Georgia already has received $34.9 million of federal dollars newly available to states under the Affordable Care Act. 

With these and other benefits children in Georgia already have received under the health law, we must consider whether we can afford to have them all stripped away?

Joann Yoon, Assoc. Policy Director for Child Health

Voices for Georgia’s Children

Good afternoon on this lovely Saturday in January! I’m Jessica, Voices’ new communications manager. I just wanted to introduce myself and share a childhood memory that complements Polly’s latest post. From time to time, the Voices staff and our supporters will share memories and lessons from childhood on the Voices Today blog. These posts may stir up childhood memories of your own (please share!) and give us all the opportunity to reflect on how these experiences have influenced our lives.

Whenever I eat fresh parsley I’m immediately transported back in time to my nanny and grandpa’s mint green kitchen. They were old-fashioned folks who grew much of their own produce in their suburban backyard. They spent hours in the garden and hours in the kitchen. They rarely cooked anything from a box.

I remember picking parsley with my grandpa and can still taste the delicious cauliflower cakes, cucumber salad and lima beans my grandma served on their formica table. Because of these positive food experiences, I have an appreciation for fresh food. I also recognize the challenge of eating healthy in our modern society. If I wrestle with purchasing a three-dollar red pepper, it’s completely understandable why someone at or below the poverty level would pass.

With 57 percent of Georgia’s children eligible for free and reduced school lunches, it’s important that we advocate for fresh foods in schools that will help them develop positive food habits to reflect on and carry into adulthood. To some children, the school cafeteria is their grandparents’ garden…

The Affordable Care Act presents the opportunity for Georgia to move forward in covering uninsured children in our state and working toward improved health outcomes as well.  Notable provisions already have gone into effect, but other major components of the law will be implemented in phases for the next few years.  The federal law provides an overarching frame for how the new system will work, but it is legislation and policy decisions at the state level that will make this law work well for kids and families in Georgia.  Given that it’s the start of a new calendar year and also of a new state legislative session, many leaders in Georgia are sharing their optimistic visions for our state.  We all want to see a healthier economy for our state.  But in order to achieve that goal, it stands to reason that we need a healthier Georgia. 

We stand to gain a lot for our state if we are wise in how we implement the Affordable Care Act.  But if we are at all passive in how we implement the law, we stand to lose a lot.  We lose millions of federal grant dollars for planning and implementation that will go to other states instead.  We lose the ability to structure a health care system for Georgia that works best for Georgians. 

And, while highly unlikely, if Congress repeals the entire law, we lose even more.  No longer will parents be able to cover their children on their insurance plans up to age 26.  No longer will insurance companies be required to provide coverage for children with pre-existing conditions.  In last week’s posting, I had mentioned a national call-in day would be scheduled for this week.  Given the tragedy in Tucson, however, the majority of Congressional action on the Hill has been halted.  We will continue to keep you posted as to when the call-in day will be rescheduled.  In the meantime, please take the time to sign onto an online petition, organized in part by MomsRising, which urges Congress to move forward with the new health law.

People throughout the U.S. are still reeling from the tragic shooting this past weekend.  Our thoughts go out to Congresswoman Giffords in her recovery, as well as to all other victims and families who have suffered a loss.  We collectively mourn as a nation for the senseless suffering.  Let us also collectively show gratitude and appreciation to all Members of Congress for all that they do for us.  As you continue to advocate on behalf of kids and on other issues which matter to you, please also take the time to thank them for their public service.

Joann Yoon, Assoc. Policy Director for Child Health

Voices for Georgia’s Children

At noon today, members of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives went to work, which marks the beginning of the 112th U.S. Congress. And while there likely has not been enough time for our elected officials to get heavily involved in the process of “making laws and taking names,” they already are off and running and are expected to tackle some big issues early on.

One topic of discussion on the agenda will be the new health law, the Affordable Care Act. There’s been much discussion about efforts of House Members to repeal the law, though most of us in the field of health wonkery don’t think that will happen for several reasons. First, it would be very costly to repeal the law. Second, the Senate is unlikely to vote to repeal the law. And third, the White House likely would oppose any such legislation.

But moving beyond mere politics, Americans who are starting to benefit from provisions under the law will not want to see the law repealed. Seniors are starting to see fixes to the dreaded “donut hole” problems in prescription coverage. Parents are able to continue coverage for their children up to age 26. And insurance companies no longer are able to deny coverage to children on the basis of pre-existing conditions. 

As Congress begins renewed discussions on the health law, make sure that you speak up on how this law benefits children and families in Georgia. Next week, Voices will be one of several organizations across the country who will be convening a national call-in day to show support for the new health law. Stay tuned to this blog and to our website for details on how you can participate.

Joann Yoon, Assoc. Policy Director for Child Health
Voices for Georgia’s Children

As the November 2 elections draw closer and as the rhetoric among the candidates becomes more heated, Georgians may start to feel “voter fatigue” and may begin to wonder if any common ground exists among the candidates. Thankfully, we do have an example of how the two leading candidates for Governor each has demonstrated leadership and support for a program that is helping many working families in Georgia—PeachCare for Kids. PeachCare is our state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which was created by federal legislation in 1997 and was implemented in Georgia in 1998. Although the initial creation of CHIP was through the work of federal legislators on Capitol Hill, it was our leaders here in the state who put it to work for Georgians. Governor Barnes was in office at the time that the PeachCare program was off and running, and Congressman Deal was one of the federal representatives who boldly spoke out about the importance of PeachCare when the program was threatened with extinction in 2008.

The conversations may become more heated. The tv ads and mailers seemingly may be caked in mud. BUT we have seen how each of these men has stepped up in the past to make sure that Georgia’s PeachCare program was not only effective for kids and families but also cost-effective for the state.

We can only hope that the success of PeachCare’s creation is eclipsed by even greater policies to benefit kids and families in Georgia throughout the next four years.

Joann Yoon, Assoc. Policy Director for Child Health

Voices for Georgia’s Children

Among other good news for children in the healthcare reform bill passed by Congress on March 23 is a commitment to reduce child abuse and neglect through home visitation programs.  The bill authorizes $1.5 billion over five years to be awarded as grants to states for services to families with infants and young children.  

Here’s the challenge for Georgia:  In order to receive funds the state must conduct assessments of factors indicating need for services and existing home visiting programs to ensure better targeting and coordination.   The assessments must be done within six months, and the clock started ticking on March 23. 

Which of our state agencies will step forward to lead this effort?  DFCS which has about $900,000 in one model of home visitation?  Public Health which is newly re-organizing with a strong interest but no designated funding?  The Governor’s Office for Children and Families which absorbed the Children’s Trust Fund , once but no longer a major source of home visiting funding?  The Department of Early Care and Learning which has an inherent interest in the age group but no history or funding for early intervention programs?

Georgia’s children desperately need these programs.  Child abuse is greatest among very young children.  Home visitation programs have proven to reduce child abuse and neglect and have promise of improving child development for later learning.  Advocates need to step up and encourage state agency leadership and collaboration to get these assessments done now.  The clock is ticking.

Pat Willis, Executive Director

Voices for Georgia’s Children,

Friday is Crossover Day, the day by which all bills must have been passed by the chamber in which they originated to remain in consideration for the remainder for the legislative session.  It will be a late night as legislators are scheduled to vote on dozens of bills .  Some of particular interest to child advocates include:

  • HB 1184 which allows health insurance companies from other states to sell to Georgians across state lines policies that might not provide the same level of protections and mandates as those sold in Georgia. Passage of HB 1184 would:
    • Allow other states’ policies, not Georgia’s policies, to determine what type of coverage Georgians if they purchase insurance plans across state lines;
    • Weaken consumer protections and minimum coverage requirements that Georgians receive when they purchase a policy from within our state; and
    • Allow insurance companies from other states to sell plans that don’t include important benefits such as cancer screenings, well-baby checkups and other preventive measures.


HB 307, the Hospital tax, which has been the subject of tense negotiations this week.

HB 1104 which would extend for two additional years the decision that the legislature made last year to change DJJ’s short term program from 60 days to 30 days.

SB 161 which would mandate the coverage of certain therapies for autism.

SB 451 which would close a family day-care center after the death of a child in care in order to allow the state to conduct an investigation.

SB 496 which would create a needs-based HOPE scholarship program.

SB 332 which would mandate an annual school board report detailing disciplinary actions taken regarding students with weapons in school.

SB 399 which would prevent state agencies to implement any of the provisions of federal Health Care Reform unless they have the prior authorization of the General Assembly.

We’ll try to blog throughout the day to keep you updated on the latest developments.

Mindy Binderman, Director of Government Affairs and Advocacy

As the debate on healthcare reform approached a vote on Sunday evening, Speaker Pelosi called out the names of organizations that had worked collaboratively in support of reform.  One of those was Voices for America’s Children, our national association.  Our national membership organization worked tirelessly to ensure that the needs of children were given priority in health reform.  Our objective in the health reform debate was not to structure reform but to make sure that the gains for child health that we have made over the years with the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and its reauthorization in 2009 were sustained and hopefully improved.  We are delighted that one of the immediate impacts of the legislation, if enacted, will guarantee that children with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied health insurance.

There are no do-overs for childhood.  Healthy children become healthy adults.  Our national, state and local health policies must recognize this as both an obligation to the most vulnerable and an opportunity for cost savings and increased productivity in the future.

Pat Willis, Executive Director

In the current issue of VOX, staff member Giovan Bezan writes about the current effort by the JUSTGeorgia coalition to revise the Georgia Juvenile Code. “Just Is” Isn’t Justice Fighting for Change in Georgia’s Youth Laws.” Bezan explains (from a teen perspective) how a young person whose made bad choices can get trapped in a vicious cycle of foster homes and detention centers.

VOX readers will also find an interesting commentary on the current healthcare reform effort, “If We Were In Charge…” by Charnall Arnold.  There are a growing range of outlets for teens to express themselves and share their opinions.  VOX is one of the oldest and and remains one of the best.

VOX Teen Communications is a non-profit youth-development organization located in
downtown Atlanta, GA, dedicated to giving teens the skills and resources to raise their voices about issues that most matter to them. Through VOX, teens come from all around the Atlanta area to work together, share information, explore their talents and express themselves by writing articles, creating art and designing layouts for the VOX newspaper and Web site.


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August 2020