23 March 2020
The General Assembly is constantly working to make health care more accessible to all Georgians as well as increase the transparency of health care costs. We often hear stories about patients who undergo a procedure at a hospital, which they believed to be in-network, only to find out after the fact that they had received out-of-network care. These patients are met with incredibly high bills for services they assumed were covered by insurance and must then handle the dispute with both the health care provider and insurance company, all while trying to heal from their procedure. Senate Bill 359 would remove the consumer from the center of this dispute and require the insurance companies and providers to work out a solution, with the additional option of arbitration available.
On a similar note, we want to reduce much of the ambiguity associated with the price of health care services. Whenever you eat at a restaurant, you make the decision on where you want to go based on the quality of the food offered for the price. Sometimes, you sacrifice a little quality for a better price, and sometimes you want to splurge on a nice meal. Unfortunately, health care does not operate the same way, and we seldom know the full cost of a procedure until after it has been completed. Senate Bill 303, the “Georgia Right to Shop Act,” addresses this by requiring health insurance providers to publicly disclose on their websites what in-network services will cost.
We will also focus on ways we can continue to empower public safety officers to protect life and property throughout the state. Senate Bill 341, the “Public Safety Assistance Act,” addresses this. Many who answer the call to public safety service do so because they have a passion for helping others. This passion does not fade after retirement, and many individuals look for ways they can continue to be of service to their communities. This bill would create a database of qualified retired law enforcement officers who can be called upon to assist in a time of emergency, which would be especially beneficial in rural areas where additional manpower is often needed in the event of a natural disaster.
Over the last several years, state leaders have done an outstanding job of cultivating an economic climate that strongly supports business growth and identifies innovative methods for attracting businesses to relocate to Georgia, which is the No. 1 state in the nation in which to do business. One state-provided incentive is tax credits for the business community. While some of these incentives are very beneficial, we want to ensure that our state sees a return on investment for any tax credit that we offer. Senate Bill 302 would allow the General Assembly to request economic analyses of tax credit programs to see if they benefit the state.
These are just a few of the priorities that we are working on under the Gold Dome to improve the lives of all Georgians. Some of these proposals may sound ambitious, but the citizens of our state deserve priorities that make lasting, meaningful change.