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Bolstering health care in rural Georgia
burns jon 2015
State Rep. Jon Burns

In the Georgia House of Representatives, one of my priorities has been to improve access to healthcare for all Georgians, particularly those who live in rural areas. This session, we passed legislation that will increase access to healthcare in innovative and fiscally conservative ways without increasing taxes or expanding the size of government. I was proud to support each of these measures:

Rural Health care Organization Tax Credit

Senate Bill 258, which included a revised version of House Bill 919, would provide tax credits to individuals and corporations who donate to hospitals and other healthcare organizations located in rural counties.

Under this bill, an individual or head of household can receive a credit of up to 80 percent of the amount donated, or $2,500 per year, whichever is less. Married couples filing jointly can receive a credit of up to 80 percent of the amount expended or $5,000 per year, whichever is less; and corporations can receive a tax credit of up to 70 percent of the amount expended, or 75 percent of the corporation’s income tax liability, whichever is less.

To ensure these tax credits achieve their intended purpose, the General Assembly included several transparency provisions and reporting metrics. Specifically, each rural healthcare organization must spend the donated funds only on the “provision of healthcare services,” not for other purposes. Further, each hospital that applies to receive donations must submit a five-year financial viability and stability plan to ensure the donations go to those healthcare organizations that are most in need. In addition, each qualifying hospital must report all donations received, all expenditures made with donated funds and the purpose for which those expenditures were made.

This legislation is an innovative, fiscally conservative solution to the problem of healthcare access in our state. This bill also reflects my belief, and the belief of our Republican Caucus, that the private sector and the faith-based community can play important roles in addressing the problems associated with poverty in our state. This measure passed both the House and Senate and currently awaits the governor’s signature.

Fiscal year 2017 budget

The state budget for fiscal year 2017, which passed both houses of the legislature, included rate increases for the most critical health care providers, including primary care and OB/GYN providers as well as occupational and physical therapists within the Children’s Intervention Services (CIS) program that provides rehabilitation services to children with physical disabilities and developmental delays. In addition, the budget includes funding for the creation of new residency programs in emergency medicine, OB/GYN services and rural health care.

These health care initiatives were included in the proposed budget for fiscal year 2017, in which statewide spending returned to 1998 levels on a per capita basis. This means we in the state legislature are making government work more efficiently by focusing on the most needed initiatives while reducing the overall size of government. The proposed state budget for fiscal year 2017 awaits the governor’s signature.

As your representative in District 159, and as Majority Leader in the Georgia House of Representatives, I will continue to support common-sense, fiscally conservative solutions that increase health care access for all Georgians.

If I can ever be of service to you, please do not hesitate to call (404.656.5052), e-mail (, or engage on Facebook (