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#Act4MentalHealth-Advocacy Corner

 

Things are busy down under the Gold Dome as we are quickly approaching the end of the General Assembly 2019 Session.  Thursday, March 7 marked “Crossover Day”, the day a bill originating in one chamber must pass to the other to have a chance at becoming law during the remainder of the legislative session. Several bills crossed over on or before the deadline and now seek passage in the opposite chamber by the last legislative day, set for April 2, 2019.
This update provides an overview of some of the more important health-related House and Senate bills that are still alive for the 2019 Legislative Session.  However, remember, that even if a bill does not pass from one chamber to the other before the midnight deadline of Crossover, language from the “dead” bill might still be added to bills that did “Cross-over” before the end of this season of the Legislature.FY 2020 BUDGET
House Bill 31, the FY 2020 budget, passed the House with some significant changes to Governor Kemp’s 2020 Budget Proposal.  The House is recommending the following changes to the Department of Behavioral Health and Development Disabilities budget:

  • $500,000 to “provide state matching funds for the HomeFirst public-private partnership to provide behavioral health services in permanent homeless supported housing.”
  • $30,000 reduction to “start-up funds for the mental health crisis services and suicide prevention mobile application in coordination with the Georgia Crisis and Access Hotline.”

Other bills of interest include:

Senate Bill 106 which passed the Senate and seeks a partial expansion of the Medicaid program. (See Georgia Budget & Policy Institute’s overview of SB 106)

HB 37 and SB 36, proposed by House and Senate Democrat leadership, attempting to fully expand Medicaid did not make the Crossover Day deadline. In addition, a bill to change Georgia’s certificate of needs laws, HB 198, failed on the House floor.

GEORGIA’S MENTAL HEALTH REFORM & INNOVATION COMMISSION BILL
House Bill 514, Governor Kemp’s efforts to create the Georgia Mental Health Reform and Innovation Commission, passed out of the House with a 152-10 vote. The proposed 21-member commission would be charged with “conducting a comprehensive review of the behavioral health system in Georgia.” The Commission would include a review of:

  • The behavioral health services and facilities available in this state,
  • The identification of behavioral health issues in children, adolescents, and adults,
  • The role the educational system has in the identification and treatment of behavioral health issues,
  • The impact behavioral health issues have on the court system and correctional system,
  • The legal and systemic barriers to treatment of mental illnesses,
  • Workforce shortages that impact the delivery of care,
  • Whether there is sufficient access to behavioral health services and supports and the role of payers in such access,
  • The impact on how untreated behavioral illness can impact children into adulthood,
  • The need for aftercare for persons exiting the criminal justice system,
  • The impact of behavioral illness on the state’s homeless population.

Stay tuned for updates as bills move along through the last few weeks of the session! 

Click here for a comprehensive update

Pictured: Elizabeth Fullerton, Associate Director of Policy & Awareness

We have been visiting the Georgia Capitol for Mental Health Mondays this session! We have met with many legislators and shared resources on NAMI programs, initiatives and legislative priorities. We are joined most Mondays with our allies, Mental Health America of Georgia and the Center for Victims of Torture.

 

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