Gov. Kemp Signs Legislation for a Healthier Georgia
By Andrew Isenhuor
Today, Governor Brian P. Kemp signed seven bills designed to benefit patients in Georgia and strengthen the state's healthcare system. The legislation includes:
HB 733, which, among other components, requires insurers who cover diagnostic examinations for breast cancer to treat cost-sharing requirements the same as annual mammograms, furthering access to potentially life-saving health exams and increasing the likelihood of early detection for those tested regularly.
HB 937, which provides for notification to all eligible recipients of insurance coverage for annual mammograms to women over the age of 40.
HB 1304, which allows patients to appoint a lay caregiver after discharge from a hospital, thereby improving their quality of care and recovery.
HB 1069, which provides for a new licensure category for adult mental health facilities and programs, further supporting the mental health reforms signed into law earlier this year by expanding access to mental health facilities for adult treatment.
SB 341, which empowers patients to receive prior authorization for prescribed conditions requiring ongoing medication therapy for up to a year, cutting red tape for those receiving treatment.
SB 340, which creates a new accreditation organization for residency programs and removes the 50-resident cap on designated teaching hospitals, strengthening and expanding the workforce pipeline for healthcare workers.
HB 1041, which raises the cap on income tax credits for contributions to rural hospital organizations to $75 million per year.
"When I ran for governor, I told Georgians I would focus on bringing innovative solutions to our healthcare challenges -- not just expand a one-size-fits-all, broken government program," said Governor Brian Kemp. "The bills I have signed into law today further deliver on that promise, building on the efforts we made during the pandemic to confront that once-in-a-century event and its challenges.
"I want to thank Representative Tyler Paul Smith, Senator Jason Anavitarte, Representative Darlene Taylor, and Senator Sheila McNeil for their work on HB 733, as well as the members of the General Assembly who gave this bill overwhelming, bipartisan support. Our daughters, wives, and mothers will now be better equipped to detect and fight breast cancer, so that it does not take even more of them from us.
"I also want to thank Representative Sharon Henderson and Senator Gloria Butler for sponsoring HB 937 which further encourages women in Georgia to get their annual mammogram examination, a crucial test that leads to better outcomes for patients.
"I want to thank Representative Lee Hawkins, Senator Dean Burke, and the legislators that voted unanimously to pass HB 1304. Caregivers are a vital part of any recovery, and this legislation helps us ensure patients have a reliable partner by their side when they're on the mend.
"Similarly HB 1069 -- carried by Representative Bruce Williamson, Senator John Kennedy, and their co-sponsors -- received overwhelmingly bipartisan and near unanimous support. This needed change in how we approach mental health treatment and access, along with Speaker Ralston's Mental Health Parity Act (HB 1013) that I signed into law last month and other legislation, is yet another reason why this past session was historic for mental health in Georgia.
"I'm also proud that by signing SB 341, carried by Senator Kay Kirkpatrick, Representative Mark Newton, and their co-sponsors, we are cutting red tape for patients in Georgia. The last thing an ailing person should have to deal with is more paper work, time-consuming bureaucracy, and expense.
"One of the challenges the pandemic highlighted was the need for a larger, more robust healthcare workforce. With SB 340 now law, carried by Senator Kay Kirkpatrick and Representative Sharon Cooper and also having received unanimous support from the General Assembly, we are growing the pipeline for that in-demand workforce so that more doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals are able to provide quality care to sick or hurt Georgians in the years ahead.
"Lastly, I want to thank Representative Clay Pirkle, Senator Billy Hickman and the legislators that gave strong backing to HB 1041 so that we can further support our rural hospitals and the Georgians who rely on their care.
"With these common sense policies now in place, Georgia patients will now have both greater access to healthcare and a higher quality of care when they or a loved one are in need of medical attention. My thanks to all those who helped make this past session historic by implementing measures that will make Georgia a healthier place to live, work, and raise our families."