Some Georgia applicants for food stamps and welfare benefits would have to pass a drug test under a House bill that cleared a committee Monday on a 7-6 vote. People applying for this government assistance would require testing if they raised “reasonable suspicion” of illegal drug use.
The issue of Medicaid expansion drew its first full-scale 2014 General Assembly hearing Wednesday. As expected, the arguments reflected the passions surrounding the Affordable Care Act. A House Judiciary subcommittee voted to pass HB 990, which would require the Legislature to approve any expansion of Medicaid here, rather than leaving the decision up to the governor alone.
Roughly 100 people rallied on the steps of the state Capitol Tuesday to protest changes implemented this year to the State Health Benefit Plan for state employees and educators. Those changes have sparked a groundswell of criticism from thousands of Georgians about a lack of choice of insurance plans and higher health care costs.
A Georgia House panel Monday approved a bill that would toughen penalties for operating an unlicensed personal care home, raising a first offense to a felony from a misdemeanor. The vote came after compelling testimony from Marietta Police Chief Dan Flynn, who described to the House Health and Human Services Committee two cases of abuse in unlicensed Cobb County homes.
Lower Oconee Community Hospital in southeast Georgia has closed due to financial problems, becoming the state’s fourth rural hospital to do so in the past two years. The 25-bed “critical access” hospital in Glenwood, in Wheeler County, is looking to restructure, its CEO said in a statement.
The 26 community boards that offer services to Georgians with behavioral health problems and developmental disabilities would face new oversight under a state Senate bill introduced this week. The legislation follows recent trouble connected with one such community service board in Coastal Georgia. A September state report on Gateway Behavioral Health Services last year said its operation was riddled with financial irregularities and management problems.
State Sen. Tommie Williams and three other General Assembly members Tuesday urged their colleagues to pass legislation this year that would require private health insurance companies in Georgia to cover treatment for autism. Williams’ niece’s daughter, Ava Bullard, is the inspiration for the proposed legislation, Ava’s Law. The issue has been raised at the Legislature for the past five years, Williams said.
Tea Party and other activists opposed to the federal Affordable Care Act packed a small hearing room Monday to listen to the arguments in favor of House Bill 707, sponsored by Rep. Jason Spencer (R-Woodbine). The bill would prevent state institutions and employees from implementing ACA provisions.
Pharmacy officials say robberies are occurring with greater frequency in Georgia. Ironically, the officials link the increase to the state’s recent success in cracking down on the scourge of “pill mills’’ in the state. Pill mills are clinics or doctor’s offices that prescribe oxycodone and other powerful narcotics without a legitimate medical purpose. Georgia became a pill mill magnet after neighboring states, including Florida, passed tougher laws regulating pain clinics.
A state agency offered some financial relief to state employees and teachers Monday by approving changes in their health plan at a specially called board meeting. The sudden action by the Department of Community Health board follows a deluge of complaints from members of the State Health Benefit Plan, which also covers other school personnel, state retirees and dependents.