Ga. House, Senate vote to advance healthcare

Published 5:03 pm Friday, March 16, 2018

Thursday, Speaker David Ralston and Lt. Governor Casey Cagle led the General Assembly to overwhelmingly approve two landmark legislative initiatives that will boost statewide access to affordable, quality care and put the State of Georgia on a path to a patient-centered health system. This common-sense approach will immediately prioritize and deploy assistance to rural communities, enable our state to cut back needless bureaucracy, modernize and improve Georgia’s health care system.

“Health insurance is too expensive, too many people can’t use the insurance they already purchase, and far too many families don’t have access to any health care at all. Georgia is ready for true conservative health reform – focused on better meeting the needs of our patients and families,” said Lt. Governor Cagle. “With the passage of these locally-driven measures, our entire state – especially rural Georgia – is on a path to affording every family access to quality care that leads to healthier lives.”

“This legislation will make it easier for doctors and pharmacists across the state to deliver quality, affordable health care – particularly in our rural communities,” said Speaker David Ralston. “I am proud that the House and the Senate have united behind these important measures, and I thank Lt. Governor Cagle, Senator Burke and Representative Jasperse for working with me to get these bills to the Governor’s desk.”

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House Bill 769, sponsored by Rep. Rick Jasperse, follows the recommendations of the House Rural Development Council launched last year by Speaker Ralston. Targeted to rural Georgia, this legislation creates Georgia’s Rural Health System Innovation Center, provides for locally-focused technical assistance and training programs, improves remote pharmacy services, recommends streamlining billing and medical payment systems, and includes delivery system reforms. Importantly, the package also lifts the value of Georgia’s rural hospital tax credit to 100%, strengthening this lifeline to provide greater support to financially distressed health care providers.

“Rural residents have seen their hospitals close and doctors leave town for too long,” said Rep. Rick Jasperse.  “House Bill 769 will help us reverse that trend and give rural communities more tools to deploy creative health care solutions like micro-hospitals. I am grateful to my colleagues on the House Rural Development Council for their input and support throughout this process.”

Senate Bill 357, The HEALTH Act sponsored by Sen. Dean Burke, creates Georgia’s Health Coordination and Innovation Council. The Council – a statewide coordinating platform – will empower our state to adopt innovative and market-oriented reforms, cut through the bureaucracy and silos of government, eliminate waste and duplication, and improve health outcomes for Georgia families. By advancing reform through a strategic plan that is built for long-term success, with all of the state’s partners at the table, the Council will help lead the way to a better quality and higher functioning health care system.

Senator Dean Burke, a physician and rural hospital administrator with more than 30 years of experience, added: “Georgia leads the nation in so many areas, but our health care outcomes fall short of our potential. The HEALTH Act will provide the infrastructure Georgia needs to rise as a leader in health care delivery for all our citizens. I commend Lt. Governor Cagle and Speaker Ralston for their leadership.”