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Funding Human Services and Public Health

POSTED: April 21, 2014 2:35 p.m.

Legislation passed in the General Assembly:

• SB 273 - Requires Public Health to establish a Maternal Mortality Review Committee. Removes providers, pharmacies and facilities from civil liability for providing information on deaths and freedom from mandatory participation in disciplinary or criminal action for providing the information. Reviews and recommendations of the committee will be used to prevent deaths by dissemination of information and by affecting policy changes.

• SB 342 - Allows disclosure of AIDS confidential information by hospitals to health care professionals in order to expedite care and treatment and allows Public Health also inform treating physicians of AIDS.

• SB 358 - Expands those who can report a missing child to include caretaker, a governmental unit responsible for the child or other person with legal custody. Previously only a parent or guardian could report.

• SB 391 - Requires medical facilities to apply to the TRICARE  program contractor for certification.  Doesn’t require participation, but if facility fails to qualify, gives a one-year period to upgrade facility, equipment or personnel. Also requires report to commissioner on efforts to apply.

• SR 746 - Calls for the adoption of a state Alzheimer’s Disease Plan as a blueprint to improve dementia prevention and treatment, support, services and awareness. Urges local, state and private agencies to implement the plan.

• SR 828 - Creates Study Committee on Emergency Relocation of Abused Adults — Committee will develop recommendations for a protocol in removing abused adults from substandard facilities, provides for an identified adult in charge of the relocation effort.

• SR 1121 - Encourages Department of Public Health and Community Health to develop a Diabetes Action Plan to prevent and control diabetes. Will include an assessment of existing activities, present coordination efforts and lay out detailed policy-related plans that would serve as a blueprint for improvement.

• HB251 - Adds regulation of “e-cigarettes” to category of cigarettes that are purchase-controlled by age, location, etc., and adds requirement of posted signs in businesses relating to minors not being sold products.

• HB 772 - (Previously covered) — Requires EBT cards have a photo of the recipient beginning Jan. 1, 2016. Requires drug testing of recipients of temporary assistance (TANF) and submission of a drug test when required by several instances under the “suspicion” list. Failure results in a one-month loss of benefits but reinstatement with a clean report. Medicaid recipients limited to a $17 fee. Children of those losing benefits do not lose benefits but can receive them through a family member.

• HB 899 - Establishes penalties for persons being found guilty of owning or operating an unlicensed personal care home. First conviction is misdemeanor unless abuse or neglect is proven, then it is a felony. Second is a felony.

• HB 965 - Creates “good Samaritan” exemption for persons who assist persons with a drug overdose and authorizes licensed health practitioners to administer opioid antagonists in those emergency overdose situations.

Budget items affecting Human Services/Public Health
• $1.5 million in new funds for “Meals on Wheels” to help replace federal cuts.

• $3.3 million to match $6.5 million in federal funds to keep 235 child support agents at risk due to federal cutbacks.

• $912,000 to fund 16 new positions in the Child Protective Services Intake Communications Center to expedite reporting.

• $7.3 million state funds to match $1.6 federal funds for 175 new child protective services workers.

• $300,000 to expand area of services by CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) volunteers.

• Added funds to increase annual clothing allowance for foster children by $100. First increase in 13 years.

In Public Health, funds were added for early detection and diagnosis of children with autism.

• Adds funds for training of early autism intervention providers and for family support.

The Department of Human Services accounts for about 2.5 percent of state fund expenditures. Public Health adds about 1.1 percent to that total. Of course this does not include other services including Medicaid that are administered by the Department of Community Health.

If you would like additional information regarding a specific piece of legislation, you may access the Georgia General Assembly Web site at http://www.legis.ga.gov/. The state budget is also online at www.legis.ga.gov, then “Senate” and then select “Budget and Evaluation Office.”

I may be reached at
234 State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334
(404) 656-5038 (phone)
(404) 657-7092 (fax)
E-mail at Jack.Hill@senate.ga.gov
Or call toll-free at
1-800-367-3334 day or night
Reidsville office: (912) 557-3811

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