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News From Georgia Watch

February 24, 2017
In This Issue
Legislative Action Alerts
Guide to Medical Billing and Debt
Rural Georgia
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Legislative Action Alerts
The 2017 Legislative Session of the Georgia General Assembly has been fast-moving!  Today is the 24th day of the 40-day session. Crossover Day is scheduled for March 3. For a bill to remain active this session, it has to pass one chamber by Crossover Day. We urge you to Take Action today on the bills below. You can keep up-to-date on all the bills we're following on our Take Action page.

Georgia Watch testified yesterday on House Bill 353 before a Subcommittee of the House Regulated Industries Committee. Unfortunately, the bill passed out of the Subcommittee with a favorable recommendation and without needed consumer protections. Please contact members of the House Regulated Industries Committee today and ask them to oppose HB 353. You can see more about our position on this legislation on our Take Action page.

Georgia Watch supports surprise billing legislation that would protect Georgia consumers from unexpected out-of-network medical costs in an emergency or during a planned procedure. Please contact your Senate Member in support of Senate Bill 8, which is likely to be voted on by the Senate today.  Please also contact your House Member and express your support of House Bill 71, which is also likely to be voted on in the House soon. You can learn more on our Take Action  page.

Georgia Watch opposes predatory lending practices that trap consumers in debt. We testified Wednesday in support of Senate Bill 198 to prohibit the sending of unsolicited "live checks" to consumers without a prior contract. Please contact  these Senators  and express your support for this pro-consumer legislation.

Georgia Watch releases the Georgia Consumer Guide for Medical Bills and Debt
Recognizing the urgent need for consumer information about how to manage medical expenses, Georgia Watch today released the Georgia Consumer Guide for Medical Bills and Debt to help consumers answer some of the most common and complex healthcare and health insurance questions. 

"At a time when uninsured and insured consumers alike are struggling with the high costs of healthcare, Georgia Watch believes consumers need practical information about how to minimize and manage medical debt," said Beth Stephens, Senior Director of Public Policy and Advocacy.   The Georgia Consumer Guide for Medical Bills and Debt covers a range of medical billing and debt concerns, including questions about insurance coverage, explanation of benefits statements, bill payment options, filing for bankruptcy, and debt collection.

On the road in rural Georgia
Georgia Wat ch spent a significant amount of time in 2016 visiting c ommunities throughout rural Georgia to learn how em ployers, public health, hospitals, providers, and community-based organizations are engaging in community health improvement activities. This work was part of our Intersectoral Community Health Improvement Collaborative project.  We encourage you to read our comprehensive final report on this project to learn about: the common interests of advocates, employers and public health; best practices for engaging employers in community health improvement work, and innovative projects underway throughout Georgia.

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