As we begin this new year, there are quite a few laws that went into effect on January 1 after being signed by Governor Kemp. House Bill 888, or the “Suprise Billing Consumer Protection Act,” protects Georgia patients from surprise bills where they receive services at an in-network facility that are from an out-of-network provider. This bill will reduce the out-of-pocket costs Georgians pay for their healthcare needs.
The “Georgia Right to Shop Act,” Senate Bill 303, requires most insurers in Georgia to make available to Georgia consumers information on payment amounts for in-network healthcare providers, estimates of average amounts in-network providers will accept for health care services, estimates of out-of-pocket costs, and metrics that compare the quality of various in-network healthcare providers. This legislation provides Georgians with additional information to allow them to make informed decisions on non-emergency healthcare services.
House Bill 914 provides for professional licensing boards to expedite licenses for military spouses or transitioning service members. These individuals must have a current license, in good standing, in another state to be eligible for this expedited license program.
Senate Bill 426 will impose notification requirements for any unpermitted spill or release of ethylene oxide. This notification must be provided to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division with twenty-four hours of discovering the spill or release. The EPD must also make this notification publicly available on its website. This legislation will help Georgians keep themselves and their families safe while providing accountability for these businesses when emissions or spills take place.
House Bill 1037 was an important step that the legislature took to ensure that tax credits are not being abused. HB 1037 provides for expanded auditing requirements for the Georgia film tax credit program in Georgia, as well as limits on some credits and expenditures that qualify for the program.
Finally, House Bill 1039 gives additional protections for Georgia consumers who sign contracts with extended automatic renewal time frames. Under this new law, if a service contract automatically renews for longer than twenty-four months, the consumer must sign a written or electronic acknowledgment that a notification was provided. Additionally, the consumer must send a written or electronic response before the contract renews that states they do not intend to terminate the contract. This legislation will keep Georgia consumers from being locked into long-term contracts to which they did not intend to commit.
We look forward to the upcoming 2021 Session and passing meaningful legislation that improves the lives of all Georgians. As we return to Atlanta for Session, I look forward to updating you on the goings-on at the Capitol, and I hope that you will reach out with any questions or concerns that you may have. It is truly an honor to work for you and this great state.
If you have any feedback, do not hesitate to call (404) 656-5052, email to Jon.Burns@house.ga.gov, or engage on Facebook (www.facebook.com/JonBurnsGA).
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Jon Burns represents District 159 in the Georgia General Assembly, where he serves as the House majority leader.