Snapshots of health care legislation

The flurry of Georgia legislation targeting illegal immigrants includes a bill that would place a new reporting requirement on hospitals, nursing homes and other health care facilities.

House Bill 296 would require those medical providers to count the illegal immigrants they treat, the type of services provided, the cost of the care, and the method of payment. The data would be reported to the state Department of Community Health. Local school officials would make a similar count.

The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Josh Clark (R-Buford), told the AJC on Tuesday, “Currently, we as policymakers lack an accurate projection of what illegal immigration is costing our state.’’ Here is Jeremy Redmon’s AJC article on the legislation.

The Georgia Hospital Association this week said it’s opposed to the proposed requirement.

“Hospitals would like to continue to focus on what they do best, which is providing health care services to everyone in need,’’ said Kevin Bloye, a GHA vice president. “Tracking illegal immigration would take the focus away from patient care.’’

Such reporting by hospitals could discourage illegal immigrants from seeking necessary medical care, Bloye said. Delaying health care would force many to seek treatment in emergency rooms, the most expensive form of care, he said.

Insurance mandate bills move forward

Two Georgia bills that deal with health insurance mandates received favorable votes Thursday.

Mandates are health insurance coverages required by state or federal law. Business groups say mandates raise the price of insurance and restrict consumer choice. But consumer advocates say mandated benefits, such as health screenings, protect people from policies that skimp on needed coverages.

The Senate passed a bill (SB 17) that would create a commission that would study insurance mandates.

Also, the House Insurance Committee passed legislation (HB 47) that would allow insurers to sell out-of-state insurance policies to individuals and families. Under the bill, an insurer could skirt Georgia’s required coverages with barer policies sold in states with fewer consumer protections.

New health agency legislation clears panel

A bill to create a Department of Public Health was approved by the House Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday.

Supporters say the legislation (HB 214) would give needed visibility and clout to an area that for years has been neglected and shortchanged on funding. The bill now heads to the House Rules Committee, and then to the floor of that chamber.

Public Health is currently a division within the Department of Community Health. It recently moved to DCH from another large agency, the Department of Human Resources.