2012 State Legislative Highlights

Government Affairs Update

Many aspects of healthcare are regulated by government policy, and there are many opportunities for policies to affect the way a healthcare entity operates. Because Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is one of the largest pediatric healthcare systems in the nation, and the largest provider of Medicaid services in Georgia, we must remain focused on public policy issues at the federal and state levels. Children’s Government Affairs team actively guards against policies that adversely affect our system and patients. Additionally, Children’s focuses on policies, such as those in Senate Bill 88 which was signed into law at our Scottish Rite campus on May 9, 2011, that positively impact the health and well-being of all Georgia’s children. With these priorities in mind, the Government Affairs team actively monitors, and reacts to legislative and regulatory action at the state and federal level when appropriate.

Each year, Children’s Government Affairs team is present at the State Capitol for all 40 legislative days of the Georgia General Assembly. The 2012 session of the General Assembly has concluded, and Children’s was successful in advocating for our biggest annual agenda item, the state Medicaid budget. Because Children’s is the largest Medicaid provider in Georgia, any change to this portion of the state budget has an immediate impact on our system. Children’s is pleased to report that we did not experience any adverse affects in this regard this year. Children’s also impacted various topics of legislation such as the prevention of concussions, increasing penalties for owners of dogs that bite, a study of pulse oximetry screening for newborns, expanding mandatory child abuse reporters, and the sale of child-only health insurance policies in Georgia.        

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Children’s also remains engaged at the federal level on public policy issues concerning pediatric health care. Currently, there are two issues of concern to Children’s: funding to train the next generation of pediatric physicians, and implications associated with the US Supreme Court’s pending decision on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

From March 26-28, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court heard challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. A decision by the court is expected sometime in the summer of 2012. Of concern to Children’s is how kids will be treated in the expansion of Medicaid eligibility in 2014 and how providers will react to the influx of new enrollees. Children’s will continue to advocate for a health care delivery system in Georgia that meets the unique needs of children, regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision.

Children's Hospitals Graduate Medical Education (CHGME)

Over the past year, federal support for pediatricians and pediatric subspecialists, called Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education (CHGME) funding, has been reduced. Currently, Children’s is advocating for Congress to increase funding for CHGME to its historical high point. This initiative is important because there is already a shortage of general and specialized pediatricians in Georgia and nationwide. Another decrease could force children’s hospitals that train pediatric residents and fellows to reduce the amount of doctors they can support in their programs.