With the close of Week 10 of the 2019 Legislative Session, only five legislative days remain before Sine Die on April 2. House and Senate committees continue to work hard to bring legislation to the floor and a number of important, albeit contentious, pieces of legislation remain to be debated. In this week’s newsletter, I wanted to discuss a couple of the more notable Senate bills waiting to be considered by the House.
Senate Bill 106: Known as the “Patient’s First Act,” SB 106 is a key component of Governor Kemp’s health care agenda and seeks to expand access to care and lower costs across our state. This legislation allows our state to pursue two common federal waivers: an 1115 waiver for our Medicaid program and a 1332 waiver for our commercial insurance market.
Through an 1115 waiver, our state will be empowered to create innovative demonstration projects to address the unique health care challenges facing Georgia’s most vulnerable citizens. Other states pursuing 1115 waivers have implemented programs addressing behavioral health and substance abuse, work requirements, and health behavior incentives.
Similarly, a 1332 waiver would allow Georgia to address systemic challenges within our commercial health insurance market in an effort to lower premiums in the health care exchange. 1332 waivers have enabled states to leverage high-risk pools and reinsurance programs to stabilize markets and protect insurers against the highest cost individuals.
I want to clarify one thing about SB 106: this legislation is a fiscally responsible alternative to Medicaid expansion. Since its enactment in 1965, the Medicaid program’s focus has been on providing health care for our low-income families, pregnant women, and vulnerable and disabled populations. Medicaid expansion, however, requires the costly extension of coverage to an entirely different class of individuals: able-bodied adults. Rather than expanding an already-escalating federal program further, these waiver programs will enable Georgia to tackle rising healthcare costs and focus on improving outcomes for our at-risk populations.
Senate Bill 77: SB 77 has become known as the “monuments bill,” as it seeks to protect all monuments — including those dedicated to significant historical, military, civil rights, religious or political events or persons — from desecration and damage. Under the provisions of the bill, persons guilty of damaging or destroying a monument would be liable for three times the full cost of repairing or replacing the monument. While opponents of this legislation claim it seeks to protect only Civil War-era monuments, its scope and impact is much broader. This bill protects all historical monuments in an effort to preserve the lessons of history, so that future generations can learn from the past.
On Thursday, I had the privilege to speak to the Ogeechee River Conservation District in Statesboro about our state’s efforts to promote conservation over the years. Georgia has a rich legacy of environmental stewardship and outdoor recreation, and I am extremely proud of our efforts to combat soil erosion and pollution across our state and enact landmark legislation like the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act.
As we work hard in the days ahead to strengthen Georgia families and businesses, please do not hesitate to call (404.656.5052), e-mail (Jon.Burns@House.Ga.Gov) or engage on Facebook with your feedback. It is an honor to represent you in the General Assembly, and I look forward to seeing you soon.
Rep. Jon Burns
Georgia General Assembly