Legislative Update for Feb. 27

Scott Maxwell, legislative liaison for GPHA, provided an update about recent legislative activity concerning public health. The following is Maxwells’ report for February 27, 2015.

Hold Harmless

There’s good news this week in that the FY 2016 Budget has passed out of the House of Representatives and headed to the Senate. It contains $1.39 million in hold harmless funding for county public health departments. Commissioner Brenda Fitzgerald testified before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for Public Health regarding budget requests Friday morning and got no questions on hold harmless. I am less concerned about losing the hold harmless funds to Transportation than I was a few weeks ago. That said, the House took $60 million in Hepatitis C drugs out of the budget before sending it to the Senate. The Hep C money is a pet concern of Sen. Renee Unterman, so she may be looking for ways to put it back in. Of course, Sen. Unterman has always supported our hold harmless money as well. We will continue to monitor this important issue.

Tobacco Tax

I think the only hope for a cigarette tax increase of more than fifty cents per pack is for the Senate to decide to take a radically different approach from the House to the transportation-funding bill. The transportation bill has not yet made to the House floor. The Rules Committee sent it back to the Transportation Cmte for more work last week.

Rural Hospital Stabilization

The Governor’s Rural Hospital Stabilization Committee released its final report last week. It describes a “hub and spoke” approach to rural healthcare issues and requests $3 million to fund pilot projects with four “hub” hospitals. The report can be read in its entirety here.

The following bills on our watch list saw action last week. Bad weather caused the postponement of a portion of the House debate calendar last Wednesday.

Click here to download his full report, including the bills on the public health watch list.