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Under the Gold Dome — By Sen. Blake Tillery

The Senate has heard the cries on healthcare cost, including health insurance premiums. Five bills passed the Senate that attack the issue. Imagine being able to speak to a doctor via FaceTime on your cell phone or computer. Senate Bills 115 and 118 employ telehealth (allowing doctors visits over internet connections) technologies and provide mechanisms for the visits to occur and be covered via health insurance plans.
What if you could avoid insurance companies altogether and contract directly with your doctor for care? Senate Bill 18 clarifies that such contracts are not bound by insurance company regulations.
Senate Bill 106 allows Governor Kemp to apply for two waivers from the federal government; one would allow Georgia to reform Medicaid by possibly including work requirements, incentives to visit primary care physicians instead of emergency rooms, and co-pays for doctors’ visits, among other reforms. The 2nd waiver would allow Georgia to develop a re-insurance or high risk pool program to drive down premium costs. Right now we only have one insurance company selling individual health insurance plans in our area. Re-insurance and high risk pool programs encourage other private insurance companies to re-enter the market, driving down health insurance premiums.
With Crossover Day coming, bills must be out of committee before March 4 to be considered. Several pieces of legislation have not cleared that hurdle. One is Senate Bill 2, allowing EMC’s to expand broadband. In both the Senate and the House, legislation was introduced to protect our state’s most vulnerable population: unborn children. This legislation essentially bans abortion, pending the overturn of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court. These bills were filed late, so they may not make it over the Crossover deadline, but they are some of the measures I’ll be supporting throughout the course of the session.
Items getting a lot of attention this year that I don’t believe will make it through by the Crossover deadline include gambling, horse racing, and Certificate of Need reform. While the gambling and horseracing bills are being pushed as supporting rural Georgia, they include a requirement that one of the races be held “within 50 miles of a 5-runway airport.” The only 5-runway airport in Georgia is Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta. I’m not sure how an Atlanta horserace helps us in Southeast Georgia. I recently including an amended requiring the new business court be located in Macon instead of Atlanta. If the individuals advance horseracing really want it to benefit rural Georgia, let’s see them include similar language requiring all races occur “more than 100 miles outside of Atlanta.” I do not think they are willing to do that. As for Certificate of Need Reform, we’ll continue to look at this as an option to reduce healthcare cost for our state in the future.

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