Healthcare Plan Headed to Governor’s Desk for Signature

Cindy Morley

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

To read all of InsiderAdvantge Georgia’s daily news, SUBSCRIBE HERE. *Subscription includes a complimentary subscription to JAMES Magazine.

State Rep. Jodi Lott (R-Evans) stood in the well Monday afternoon and urged House members to support SB 106, the Governor’s “Patients First Act.”

“This is a big-picture debate. Health care is complicated,” said Lott, one of Governor Brian Kemp’s floor leaders in the House. “It’s complex. But voting for SB 106 is the start of moving the ball forward in Georgia. This is the first part. It’s the first piece of the pie. If this bill fails it won’t change the fact that healthcare is one of the Governor’s top priorities.”

In the end, SB 106 passed by a 104-67 margin. It now heads to Kemp’s desk and he said he will “very quickly” sign it into law because “we don’t have time to wait.”

Shortly after the vote, Governor Kemp joined Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan and Speaker David Ralston in a press conference

“Today, with the passage of the Patients First Act, we are one step closer to lowering costs, increasing access, and improving the quality of healthcare for Georgia families. I thank Speaker Ralston, Lt. Governor Duncan, and members of the General Assembly for their bipartisan support of this landmark legislation. I look forward to working together to deliver a Georgia-centric healthcare system that puts patients – not the status quo – first,” said Kemp.

He went on to thank Ralston, Duncan and members of the legislature for working to get the bill passed early in the session.

“As you know we have funding available in the amended budget, so we can start right away upon signature of the bill to implement this and put patients first,” Gov. Kemp added.

Calling it a good day in the House, Speaker Ralston added, “I am very pleased with the action of the House in terms of making healthcare coverage available for a significant number of Georgians. Today is truly a historic day and a huge step forward for us as a state. I think healthcare will now be more effective, more efficient, and more accessible to many more Georgians than any time in our history.”

Ralston also said he was very pleased with the “bipartisan nature the vote in the House.” Lt. Governor Duncan and Kemp also echoed the comments about the bipartisan support of the bill.

Lt. Governor Duncan said today’s vote is an opportunity to “move forward with the plan that I believe other states are going to watch and take our lead.”

The Patients First Act will give the governor wide latitude to approve a range of options in pursuit of federal “waivers” with the aim of improving government-funded health care access for the poor and middle class. However, Kemp has vowed that process won’t lead to outright expansion of the Medicaid program, which he has long opposed as too costly.