Legislature Provides for Medicaid; Dental Hygienists Smiling

Scott Maxwell, legislative liaison for GPHA, provides weekly reports on activity concerning public health throughout the state legislative session. Click here to read his report for the week ending Feb. 10, 2017.

Excerpts from the report:

The General Assembly has now worked through Legislative Day 16 and bills are percolating through both the House and Senate legislative machinery. The FY 17 Amended budget has cleared both houses with so few differences that no conference committee will be necessary. The two bodies will agree with each other’s amendments in order to perfect the bill. Here’s what else happened last week.

Legislature Provides for Medicaid

The Medicaid Provider Fee, SB 70, which passed the Senate earlier, sailed through the House 152-14 on Friday. This is the bill that extends the sunset date on an existing hospital tax for another three years. The tax on hospital revenues will bring in an estimated $311 million annually and that money in turn will be able to draw down another $600 million in federal funds.

Rep. Butch Parrish, who chairs the House Appropriations Health Subcommittee, spoke in favor of the legislation and issued an invitation to his colleagues who might have been considering a “no” vote. “If you want to vote against this bill,” Parrish said, “please bring to me your suggestions on where we can find another $900 million to fill the hole that would be left in our budget.”

Governor Nathan Deal, whose Senate floor leader, Butch Miller (R-Gainesville), introduced the bill, said he will sign it on Tuesday.

Dental Hygienists Smiling on Friday

Dental hygienists for treatments provided using dental technology had a double-barrel victory Friday morning as they passed similar bills in both the House and Senate on the same day. The legislation would allow hygienists to provide teeth cleaning services and Invisalign to a medical patient in venues such as schools and nursing homes under the supervision of a dentist and under an orthodontist care, but without the dentist being in the same building. Click here for cosmetic dentistry services.

The House voted 163-0 to pass HB 154 (Sharon Cooper-R), while the Senate passed SB 12 (Renee Unterman-R) by a margin of 48-1. The only difference in the bills is that the Senate version requires reports to reveal how many dentists are supervising how many hygienists in out-of-office settings.

Each bill now moves across the Capitol rotunda to be considered by the other body.