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Tuesday, December 18, 2012 - 12:06pm

Gun Lobby May Lay Low

Georgia’s tax revenues are rising but still remain below what officials had forecast. That means lawmakers will have to find more budget cuts in January when the legislative session reconvenes.

Gov. Nathan Deal based his fiscal 2013 budget on the presumption that tax collections would rise 5 percent.

They haven’t.

Chuck McMullen is with the law firm McKenna Long & Aldridge. At a legislative preview event Tuesday in Atlanta, he said lawmakers are facing a $1 billion deficit in the current budget and the next fiscal year.

He says they’ll likely cut reimbursement rates for doctors who take Medicaid patients. And he says that often means fewer doctors will accept Medicaid.

“There’s definitely a clear correlation between reimbursement rates and access to quality patient care in terms of doctors not taking new Medicaid patients, and especially among the sub-specialties," he said in an interview. "We see a decrease access among pediatric sub-specialties because there aren’t enough doctors in Georgia to take those infants, and especially when you start cutting their Medicaid rates.”

McMullen says the potential cuts would hit rural Georgians the hardest.

Experts with McKenna, Long & Aldrich also touched on other issues at the legislative preview.

For example, several said that in the wake of Friday’s shooting rampage in Connecticut, it's unlikely Georgia’s gun lobby will push for new firearm freedoms in the upcoming legislative session.

Eric Tanenblatt, a Senior Managing Director at the firm, noted that the National Rifle Association has been largely silent since 20 children died in a massacre in a small Connecticut town last week.

“Given that our legislative session is only weeks away, I’m not sure if we’re too close to the tragedy to see any pro-active efforts on the part of the NRA to push legislation in Georgia,” he said.

In recent years, some lawmakers have sought to loosen restrictions on where Georgians can bring guns.