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8607 Roberts Drive, Suite 150 Sandy Springs, GA 30350-2237


Legislative Wrap-up 2011

Published April 15, 2011


Horizons in Hemophilia, April 2011 

By Jeff Cornett, RN, MSN, Director of Training, Research, & Advocacy

On April 14, minutes before midnight, the Georgia General Assembly ended its regular session for 2011.  Georgians with bleeding disorders fared well this year, with legislation that benefits our community passing and potentially harmful bills being rejected.

Passage of the Hemophilia Advisory Board Bill
In 2009, Hemophilia of Georgia persuaded members of the General Assembly to introduce a bill that would set up a Hemophilia Advisory Board.  This board, made up of state officials, care providers, and people with bleeding disorders would advise the state on ways to improve care.  The all-volunteer board would not cost the state any money.  The bill passed the House and Senate with near unanimous support but was vetoed by then-Governor Perdue.  The Governor promised to set up the board through executive order but he never fulfilled this pledge.

Jump to 2011 – the bill is reintroduced, with minor changes, by Representatives Jerguson, Allison, Harden, and Dutton.  The bill is given a “do pass” vote by the House Health & Human Services Committee, but fails to get on the full House calendar in time for passage this session.  In a bit of legislative maneuvering, our friends in the Senate are able to attach the bill to HB 214, which establishes the new Department of Public Health.  The bill passes both houses of the General Assembly and awaits the governor’s signature.  You can read the bill here

Hemophilia of Georgia thanks the following people for their work in getting this bill passed:

  • Representatives Sean Jerguson, Rusty Kidd, and Mickey Channell, who supported the bill in the House.  Rep. Jerguson was the lead sponsor and presented the bill in committee.  He gave an excellent overview of bleeding disorders and the challenges they present.  Rep. Kidd is the former lobbyist for Hemophilia of Georgia.  After his election to the General Assembly, he remains one of the strongest supporters of people with bleeding disorders.  Rep. Channell was very gracious in allowing the Hemophilia Advisory Board bill to be attached to his Public Health bill.

  • Senators Renee Unterman and Johnny Grant, who supported the bill in the Senate.  Senator Unterman chairs the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and spoke eloquently of the need for the bill during the Senate debate.

  • Baxter – the pharmaceutical company used its lobbyist to get the bill introduced and passed.

Funding for the Uninsured with Bleeding Disorders
Since 1973, the Georgia legislature has appropriated money in the state budget for medicine for people with bleeding disorders who lack health insurance.  This program is administered by Hemophilia of Georgia through a state contract.  The money provides factor concentrate and pays insurance premiums and clinic bills. 

Over the years, as factor concentrate has become more and more expensive, the cost of the program had risen to $1,782,070.  The passage of the federal Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (the healthcare reform bill) in March of 2010 provided an opportunity for Georgia to reduce the cost of providing this care.  Instead of providing factor concentrate, the state could now enroll people in the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plans or assist young people in staying on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26.  By moving the uninsured onto these plans, the state is able to lower the cost from up to $90,000 for a person with hemophilia to less than $7,000.  The benefit for the people with hemophilia is that they now have quality comprehensive health insurance where before they only received medication. 

Hemophilia of Georgia has been working closely with state leaders on a new budget for the program.  The initial budget that was proposed was not adequate because it has taken longer to enroll people in the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plans than was anticipated.  Hemophilia of Georgia was successful in persuading the General Assembly to restore $250,000 to both the Amended FY2011 and the new FY2012 budgets.  The cost of the program in the next fiscal year will be $698,683 – a savings of over $1 million for Georgia taxpayers.

Defeat of SB 63
Senate Bill 63 would have required everyone on Medicaid to carry a “smart card” that had to be scanned at every point of transaction, i.e., when entering the doctor’s office, when leaving the doctor’s office, when dropping off a prescription, when picking up medication, etc.  Hemophilia of Georgia was concerned that passage of this bill would put an end to the shipping of medication directly to the patient’s home since there would be no way to scan the smart card.  Other advocates had concerns about the high cost of the program and the ineffectiveness of this approach as a way of combating Medicaid fraud.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published an article that raised questions about other aspects of the bill. 

Despite strong arguments against it, the bill passed the Senate.  Hemophilia of Georgia asked constituents of key members of the House Health and Human Services Committee to contact their representatives and express their concerns. The House Committee did not put the bill on its agenda.  Dead for this year, this bill has the potential to come back in 2012.

Hemophilia of Georgia thanks all of those who worked this session on behalf of people with bleeding disorders, especially our lobbyists at Nelson Mullins, Helen Sloat and Stan Jones.