Burke leads charge for HEALTH Act

Published 4:44 pm Friday, February 9, 2018

In an effort to reform healthcare in Georgia, Senator Dean Burke and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle introduced Senate Bill 357, the HEALTH Act, on Monday.

The legislation is intended to improve healthcare availability and access for all Georgians, according to Burke. It passed through the Georgia Senate this week and has been sent on to be discussed in the House.

“What is unfortunate is the healthcare outcomes are not nearly as good as it should be, based on all the great infrastructure we have,” Burke said. “Georgia is one of the top states in the country with economic development, top medical schools and public institutions, but there is still a disconnect with healthcare outcomes.”

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Burke added this was especially true in rural areas, and is a cultural problem as well.

Under the HEALTH Act, the Health Coordination and Innovation Council of the State of Georgia and the Health System Innovation Center will be established. This legislation streamlines the functions of Georgia’s health care system and breaks down silos between state agencies, academic institutions, and the private sector.

Unlike the temporary healthcare study committee that was created last year to reform healthcare in South Georgia, the council created by the HEALTH Act would be permanent.

Within the proposed Health Coordination and Innovation Council, experts, doctors and politicians would have a central point to discuss ideas and policies for healthcare in Georgia.

“The point of the bill is to develop a new infrastructure,” Burke said. “Get them to be working together. Come up with what the healthcare priorities are. Strategies on what to tackle first. To get anything done, we have to focus on what the priorities are.”

The council would provide accountability for the billions of taxpayer dollars that go toward improving and providing healthcare services, according to Burke.

“Georgians deserve a system that isn’t riddled with bureaucracy. Our focus will meet the needs of every patient with better access, lower costs, and higher quality care,” said Lt. Governor Cagle. “This legislation will eliminate barriers to quality, affordable care and develop the much-needed innovations that will modernize and improve our state’s overall health care system.”

Members of the council would be appointed by the Georgia governor, Burke said.