Despite a new calendar of legislators – as able-bodied as a new governor and abettor governor — abounding bloom affliction issues in the accessible affair of the Georgia General Assembly will accept a accustomed look. They are abundantly the aforementioned ones that accept percolated beneath the Gold Dome in accomplished years.
Health affliction regulations. Surprise medical billing. Rural bloom care. Medical marijuana.
Yet article new aloof got created that may serve as a agent for legislation to agitate up Georgia bloom care.
House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) has called a appropriate board on Admission to Quality Bloom Care. While it will focus on regulations beneath the arguable certificate-of-need (CON) laws, the console may additionally attending at accompaniment proposals to bank up or aggrandize bloom insurance.
Ralston said Thursday that he hopes the board “will accomplish a lot of advance this session,’’ which convenes abutting week. He additionally batten to reporters about several added bloom care-related issues during a media conference at the accompaniment Capitol.
The appropriate board will be chaired by two bodies actual accustomed with bloom care. Accompaniment Rep. Richard Smith (R-Columbus), administrator of the House Allowance Committee, will armchair the appropriate panel, while Rep. Sharon Cooper, arch of the House Bloom and Human Casework Committee, will serve as carnality chair.
It’s a two-year gig for the board members, whose numbers accommodate some Democrats.
Certificate of need, in particular, appears to be in legislators’ crosshairs, afterwards years of altercation over alike the aboriginal changes to these accompaniment regulations.
The CON action governs the architecture and amplification of bloom affliction accessories and casework in the state. It’s a actual able agency in the state’s bloom affliction industry, and supporters of projects that don’t get CON approval generally accuse that the action is unfair.
“It’s time that we assignment bottomward and let Georgians apperceive what the affair is about, and let’s boldness it,’’ said Ralston.
That committee’s assignment won’t be the alone affair for the bloom affliction industry to watch. Hundreds of bills every year blow on bloom care, and there are consistently some agrarian cards that about-face up.
Here are some capacity apparent as acceptable to apparent during the session:
Certificate of Need
Two aldermanic committees accept proposed above changes to the way Georgia regulates hospitals and added medical facilities.
A Senate abstraction committee, chaired by accompaniment Sen. Ben Watson (R-Savannah), a physician, has formulated abstract legislation that could affluence accompaniment restrictions involving Cancer Treatment Centers of America, which has a hospital in Newnan, and bright a aisle for a planned sports anesthetic centermost in Alpharetta.
The goal, he said recently, is deregulation – to inject added antagonism into bloom affliction services.
A House console in December backed added across-the-board changes, including advising replacing CON with an accreditation and “rigorous licensing system’’ for bloom affliction providers.
The House Rural Development Board additionally seeks to crave nonprofit hospitals to acknowledge banking advice on their websites, including their IRS 990 forms and controlling salaries, as able-bodied as their association account spending, agreement of their debt, and backdrop owned, including those that are vacant.
Ralston said Thursday that the Rural Development Board associates are anxious about what some nonprofit hospitals are accomplishing with their banking affluence – and about how abundant affluence they have. He said he supports accretion hospital accountability and accuracy with absorption to these holdings.
Almost any angle to change CON, though, would draw action from affecting hospital organizations, who accept continued accurate the accepted system.
The new board could additionally accede requests for allowance changes that booty the anatomy of “waivers,’’ federally accustomed exceptions to states’ absolute bloom programs.
A abandonment plan accepting renewed absorption back the November acclamation was developed by Atlanta-based Grady Bloom Arrangement three years ago.
The Grady plan would use federal analogous Medicaid dollars to advice set up pilot sites that could accommodate advantage to bags of bodies who currently abridgement medical insurance. Participating medical providers would afresh administer these patients’ care.
“We achievement to see advantage amplification to low-income Georgians,’’ Laura Colbert of Georgians for a Healthy Future, said Thursday at an accident sponsored by the customer group. “We’re activity optimistic’’ about a statewide affairs to admission bloom insurance, she said.
But Colbert added, “My abhorrence is that the chat about CON will boss the bloom chat in a way that will ahead the Assembly from absorption on customer issues that are added pressing.”
Georgia has one of the accomplished uninsured ante in the nation. Its political administration has alone accretion the accompaniment Medicaid program, citation the bulk of that move. It’s one of alone 14 states that accept not adopted amplification as categorical by the Affordable Affliction Act.
Another abandonment abstraction actuality discussed pertains to the state’s bloom allowance barter and “reinsurance.″ A reinsurance affairs aims to balance bloom allowance premiums in the barter by capping the bulk that insurers acquire in accoutrement bodies with aerial medical costs.
Ralston acclaimed that Gov.-elect Brian Kemp has mentioned waivers as an breadth he would like to pursue. “I ahead we’ll apperceive added about that’’ afterwards Kemp’s Accompaniment of the Accompaniment address, Ralston said.
This barbed affair continues to addle compromise.
Surprise announcement occurs back consumers accept procedures or appointment ERs at hospitals in their allowance network, afresh get abstracted bills for hundreds or alike bags of dollars from non-network doctors who were complex in their care.
Such bills from ER doctors, anesthesiologists and radiologists, amid others, generally addle and acrimony consumers.
The best contempo aldermanic attack to fix the botheration was aftermost year, but it adjourned like those in antecedent years, because assembly could not ability a accommodation amid differing proposals.
One proposal, backed by bloom insurers, focused on giving consumers added advice on non-network providers and costs. The other, accurate by physician groups, would accept set a blueprint for insurer reimbursements to doctors for out-of-network care.
The affair still resonates at the Gold Dome. Accompaniment Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, a Rome Republican who backed legislation beforehand this year, told GHN this week, “We will try afresh to acquisition accepted arena amid the House and Senate as able-bodied as allowance companies and [medical] providers.’’
Hufstetler additionally told the Rome News-Tribune that he supports legislation agnate to a bill alien by Republican Rep. Ron Stephens of Savannah, abreast the end of aftermost year’s session. It would accept aloft the tax on a backpack of cigarettes from 37 cents to $1.87.
Tobacco use –– the distinct best preventable account of disease, disability, and afterlife in the U.S. –– causes added than 11,000 deaths in the accompaniment annually, and its absolute bloom affliction costs bulk to added than $3 billion a year.
The American Lung Association says an admission in the burden would avert abounding youths from smoker by authoritative tobacco added expensive, And Georgia could accession added than $400 actor a year to accomplish investments for the bloom and abundance of Georgia association by adopting the cigarette tax by at atomic $1 per pack, says the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute.
Georgia has the third-lowest accompaniment cigarette tax amount out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. But abounding libertarians and conservatives argue any tax increases.
Speaker Ralston, back asked about a accessible tax hike, acclaimed that developed smoker ante accept beneath in the U.S. “I’m consistently afraid to advance adopting taxes in any event,‘’ including for tobacco use, he added.
Georgia allows bodies with medical altitude to acquire medical marijuana. But it’s actionable to accompany it into the state.
A aldermanic agency has recommended acceptance medical marijuana to be developed in Georgia and awash to patients. The angle would authorization marijuana growers, manufacturers and dispensaries.
Georgia is one of the few states area medical marijuana is acknowledged but agronomics and administration are not, the Macon Telegraph reported. That agency the 6,421 Georgia association with medical cards accept around no acknowledged way to get the medication they need.
“We absolutely accept set up a law that is potentially banishment Georgia citizens to breach federal law in adjustment to admission the product,” accompaniment Rep. Allen Peake, a Macon Republican who spearheaded the 2015 medical marijuana legislation, told the Telegraph.
State Sen. Matt Brass, a co-chairman of the commission, said he wants to advice patients who can account from medical marijuana after affective the accompaniment afterpiece to amends of marijuana for recreational use, the AJC appear recently.
“I apperceive this bill will not accomplish anybody happy,” said Brass, a Republican from Newnan. “We’re artlessly accomplishing this to get admission for our patients.”
Rural bloom care
In contempo years, Georgia assembly accept approved to abode the banking struggles that abounding rural hospitals face. Legislation to advice these accessories included adopting the rural tax acclaim for donors to rural hospitals from 90 percent to 100 percent.
The Rural Development Board has recommended adopting the tax acclaim beam for rural hospital donations from the accepted $60 actor to $100 million. The affairs has been “incredibly successful,’’ says accompaniment Rep. Terry England, co-chairman of the council.
But England has said the board additionally wants to analyze rules involving donation processes and what hospital expenditures are accustomed with those funds.
Ralston additionally said Thursday that accretion rural broadband will advice bloom affliction in rural areas, as able-bodied as business and education. “I anticipate broadband is foundational’’ to abate rural Georgia, he said.
Last year’s Assembly advised legislation that aimed to affluence admission to medications for austere illnesses by facilitating exceptions to insurers’ biologic requirements.
Current protocols generally crave that a accommodating “try and fail” on one or added meds afore insurers accede to awning the biologic that was originally prescribed. That’s accepted as “step therapy.” Aftermost year’s bill, which ultimately bootless to bright the Legislature, would authorize affidavit for exemptions from such protocols.
Dorothy Leone-Glasser of Advocates for Responsible Affliction (ARxC), who pushed the footfall analysis bill aftermost year, said Thursday she expects addition able attack at passage.
Ralston additionally told reporters that he wants to accomplish brainy bloom a antecedence during this session. “We accept not accustomed that affair acceptable absorption [and] assets for a long, continued time. That’s an affair that I absolutely accept we’re activity to accept to accomplish a priority.”
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