Crossover Day for the 2021 Georgia Legislative Session is approaching on Monday, March 8! Generally, a bill has to pass out of one chamber to the other by this date to be passed during the session. Read more about the status of legislation we've been tracking closely below.
Here are some highlights:
Georgia Watch supports the passage of legislation implementing robust credit reporting protections for debts related to COVID-19. Georgia Watch Lifetime Consumer Champion, Representative Penny Houston (R-170) introduced House Bill 656
to provide certain protections to consumers who have experienced financial hardship as a result of COVID-19. HB 656 amends Title 10 of the Georgia Code to allow consumers to request credit reporting agencies place a COVID-19 alert on their credit report if the consumer has been affected by COVID-19. The bill has been referred to the House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee.
Georgia Watch supports legislation to increase eviction protections, ensuring greater housing stability for Georgians. On February 10, 2021, Georgia Watch Consumer Champion for Well-Being, Representative Sharon Cooper (R-43) introduced House Bill 408 to promote housing stability for families. HB 408 would require eviction notices be provided and delivered in writing. The bill would also allow tenants to pay all back rent within seven days of receiving the notice – an opportunity they do not currently have. Furthermore, the bill would require landlords to give tenants a minimum of seven days before they could file an eviction in court. This change would bring Georgia in line with 40 other states. This bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
Access to Healthcare
Georgia Watch supports the establishment of an All Payer Claims Database ("APCD") to improve healthcare quality and reduce healthcare costs for Georgians. An APCD will increase transparency in healthcare costs and enable policymakers to address costs that are too high, unwarranted variation in costs, and quality of care concerns. The following bills were introduced this session:
Senate Bill 1, sponsored by Senator Dean Burke (R-11) and Georgia Watch Lifetime Consumer Champion, Senator Chuck Hufstetler (R-52), would require that providers report insurance claims information to the Georgia All-Payer Claims Database. SB 1 would provide transparency and predictability to improve outcomes and access to healthcare. The bill remains in the Senate Finance Committee.
House Bill 80, an appropriations bill sponsored by Representative Ralston (R-7), included $750,000 to plan and implement an All-Payer Claims Database to publicly report on health care costs and utilization of key services. The bill passed on February 11, 2021 and was signed by Governor Kemp on February 15, 2021.
Georgia Watch supports legislation that sets stronger network adequacy standards for insurance plans and improves access to care. On February 11, 2021, Representative Mark Newton (R-123) introduced House Bill 454, which amends Title 33 to stipulate that all health insurance plans must cover provider charges at in-network rates for the duration of the contract year regardless of whether the provider remains a participating provider at any point in the contract year. HB 454 has been referred to the House Special Committee on Access to Quality Healthcare.
Georgia Watch supports legislation to protect consumers by increasing transparency in the prior authorization process.
Senator Kay Kirkpatrick (R-32) introduced Senate Bill 80
, known as the Ensuring Transparency in Prior Authorization Act, which aims to address barriers to care created by prior authorization. SB 80 requires that insurers make any requirements or restrictions for prior authorization available on its website to the general public. This publicly available information must include, all written clinical criteria. Additionally, the bill sets guidelines and time tables for prior authorization that ease the burden of prior authorization on patients and health care providers. This bill crossed over on March 1, 2021.
This session, legislators introduced bills to increase access to Medicaid. We are supporting the following bills:
House Bill 163, sponsored by our Consumer Champion, Representative Sharon Cooper (R-43), directs Georgia’s Medicaid program to adopt “express lane” eligibility for kids who qualify for Medicaid coverage. The change would make it easier for uninsured Georgia kids who already qualify for Medicaid to enroll and stay covered. The House passed HB 163 in early February and the Senate Health and Human Services Committee later approved it.
Senate Bill 172, sponsored by Senator Gloria Butler (D-55), would allow Georgia to fully expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Georgia is one of only 12 states that continues to reject federal money to cover low-income adults. Medicaid expansion would cover more than 500,000 Georgians. SB 172 has not yet been considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Georgia Watch supports legislation to protect access to health coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. Representative Houston Gaines (R-117) and co-sponsor Representative Sharon Cooper (R-43) introduced House Bill 509
on February 17, 2021. The bill aims to preserve protections of preexisting medical conditions for Georgians and ensure they are provided healthcare opportunities without limitation or exclusion. The bill ensures that if the Affordable Care Act is struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional that Georgia’s law would protect pre-existing conditions. The bill crossed over on February 26, 2021.
Georgia Watch supports legislation to protect the safety of patients from sexual abuse by physicians. Introduced by our Consumer Champion Representative Sharon Cooper (R-43), House Bill 458
would require the Georgia physicians, medical students and medical licensing board members to be trained on physician sexual misconduct and professional boundaries. The bill also requires doctors to report other doctors who have sexually abused patients. HB 458 would specifically authorize the Georgia Composite Medical Board to revoke or suspend a license if a physician is found guilty of sexually assaulting a patient in a criminal case. The bill crossed over on February 26, 2021.
To keep up-to-date on these legislative issues and learn more about other issues we're following on our Take Action page.