Gold Dome Report

Below you will find some highlights from a busy week under the Gold Dome, marking five remaining legislative days in the 2016 Legislative Session.


Days 36 – 38  Monday, March 14 – Wednesday, March 16
Day 39  Tuesday, March 22
Day 40  Thursday, March 24



Early this week the Senate Appropriations Committee released their changes to the Governor’s budget for FY 2017 being proposed by the House of Representatives.  Yesterday, the full Senate passed that budget and now a conference committee will resolve any differences between the two chambers before final passage. As you are most likely aware, the Governor’s budget did not include any funding changes for nursing care centers. We are pleased to report that both the House of Representatives and the Senate included an additional $35.1 million to increase funding for nursing home rates.

The Senate budget (full document can be accessed HERE) includes 4 major funding changes for the Aged, Blind, and Disabled (ABD) population.  The first three items were included in the House version of the budget.  The Senate has added a fourth change, increasing the ventilator rates by 3%.

State Funds Total Funds
1. Increase funds to provide a 3% inflation adjustment on the 2012 nursing home cost reports – this equates to 3% growth on the 2012 cost report.  This does not impact those whose rate changed based on CHOW funding. $        11,300,000  $     35,104,070
2. Reduce funds for previous changes in rate calculations in nursing facility operator changes to reflect projected expenditures – the original estimate of funding needs for the CHOW update was higher than it actually turned out to be.  So the extra dollars go back to the General Fund. $        (4,100,000) $   (12,736,875)
3. Increase funds for reimbursement rates for Adult Day Health Centers by 5% to provide parity with other home and community-based service providers $              399,670 $        1,241,597
4. Increase funds for a three percent increase in ventilator reimbursement rates – to provide parity with the rest of the nursing center’s Medicaid funding. $                95,041  $           295,250


While the amount of funding provided is not sufficient to rebase to the 2014 cost report, this is another major step towards additional funding for long term care.


HB 920, sponsored by Rep. Kelley (R-Cedartown), passed out of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee late Friday afternoon.  Given Senate rules and procedures, the measure will not be available for action on the Senate floor until late next week.


SB 305, sponsored by Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford), would require the Department of Public Health to notify the chairpersons and members of the House and Senate Health and Human Services Committees at least 60 days before implementing changes to the Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form.


HB 34, sponsored by Rep. Mike Dudgeon (R-Johns Creek), is titled the “Georgia Right to Try Act” and would allow patients with terminal illnesses to access available investigational drugs, biological products, and devices. These drugs must successfully complete Phase 1 of the federal Food and Drug Administration clinical trial but they do not have to be approved for general use.

HB 886, authored by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta), relates to pharmacy licenses, and would revise a provision relating to employing mails or common carriers to sell, distribute, and deliver prescription drugs to ensure that shipping mail order drugs meet federal standards.


The Senate Health and Human Services Committee met on Monday afternoon and passed the following bills:

HB 887, authored by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula), would prioritize the placement of a child with an adult or fictive kin qualified to care for the child instead of putting the child in foster care. Additionally, the committee substitute include language from last years “Georgia Supporting and Strengthening Families Act,” or SB 3, authored by Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford). This language includes allowing children to move in with individuals who are not family members but close family friends.

HB 944, sponsored by Rep. Sheri Gilligan (R-Cumming), would allow the pronouncement of death of patients in nursing homes who are organ donors by a physician assistant or registered professional nurse, instead of a physician.

HB 962, authored by Rep. Stacey Abrams (D-Atlanta), relates to the Department of Human Services, so as to provide for the creation, appointment, removal, and duties of a kinship care enforcement administrator. SB 3 (see HB 887 above) was also added to this bill as a committee substitute.

HB 1037, authored by Rep. Valerie Clark (R-Lawrenceville), would create the certified nurse aide registry to nurse aides who provide services in private residences to allow for individuals to make complaints about nurses aids.

HB 1085, authored by Rep. Katie Dempsey (R-Rome), transfers the oversight of the aging services from the Department of Human Services to the Department of Community Health.

HB 509, sponsored by Rep. Jesse Petrea (R-Savannah), would implement initiatives to improve quality and delivery of patient centered and family focused palliative care. This piece of legislation would also create the Georgia Palliative Care and Quality of Life Advisory Council and a state-wide Palliative Care Consumer and Professional Information and Education Program. Language was added relating to reimbursement to council members for attending meetings.

HB 954, authored by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula), would create the Uniform Jurisdiction Guardianship Act and would allow for an individual serving as a guardian to transfer the guardianship or conservatorship to another state without having to apply for new order to maintain guardianship.