February 7, 2018

Today, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle led the Georgia Senate to overwhelmingly approve two landmark legislative initiatives that will improve access to affordable, quality health care and combat the opioid crisis across our state. These measures mark a significant victory in Georgia’s fight to enact conservative health care reform.

“Today, the Senate took strong action on two major legislative initiatives that will save countless lives and provide much needed relief for families struggling to keep up with the rapidly rising costs of health care,” said Lt. Governor Cagle. “Cutting the overgrown bureaucracy to eliminate barriers to care will improve the quality of life for Georgians statewide, while placing a clear priority on our rural communities struggling most.”

Senate Bill 352, sponsored by Senator Renee Unterman, will combat the addiction crisis with patient-centered insurance reforms, enhanced education and prevention efforts for students, and increased access to community-based addiction treatment and recovery programs.

“Senate Bill 352 is for the hundreds of thousands of people who currently suffer from addiction and the families who have endured the pain of watching a loved one suffer,” said Senator Renee Unterman. “Every step of the way, Lt. Governor Cagle has listened to the advocates and been our greatest champion in moving these solutions forward.”  

Senate Bill 357, The HEALTH Act sponsored by Senator Dean Burke, establishes Georgia’s Health Coordination and Innovation Council and the Health System Innovation Center. By streamlining the functions of our health care system and breaking down silos between state agencies, academic institutions, and the private sector – the State of Georgia will become a national leader in patient-centered health reform. These common-sense reforms will enable our state to cut back needless bureaucracy, while modernizing and improving every dimension of Georgia’s health care system.

Senator Dean Burke, a physician and rural hospital administrator with more than 30 years of experience, added: “Today, the Senate advanced real solutions that will move the needle for rural Georgia. It’s both humbling and encouraging to see such broad support across our state for our efforts. And although this legislation marks just the beginning of reforming how we deliver health care, it is absolutely vital to our rural communities.”

SB 352 and SB 357 have received broad support from dozens of organizations representing thousands of Georgians, including the Davis Direction Foundation, Emory University, the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals, the Georgia Association of Health Plans, the Georgia Health Care Association, the Georgia Hospital Association, the Georgia Obstetrical and Gynecological Society, the Georgia Prevention Project, the Georgia Public Health Association, the Medical Association of Georgia, Medical College of Georgia, Mercer University, and Stratus Healthcare.

“SB 357 provides an opportunity for Georgia’s best minds in health care, academia and the private sector to partner with government leaders to face the challenges ahead,” said Tony Marshall, President and CEO of Georgia Health Care Association. “Lt. Governor Cagle has always taken a thoughtful approach to improving health outcomes for Georgians, and this latest effort will have a truly transformative impact on rural Georgia,” said Tony Marshall, President and CEO of Georgia Health Care Association.

Jim Langford, Chair of the Substance Abuse Research Alliance (SARA) and Executive Director of Georgia Prevention Project, praised Senator Unterman and Lt. Governor Cagle for their leadership in addressing the opioid crisis, saying: “Lt. Governor Cagle and Senator Unterman have advanced a bold set of innovative and effective policies that will turn the tide on Georgia’s addiction crisis and save countless lives. SARA and Georgia Prevention Project are proud to have participated in these efforts – and we could not be more supportive of this legislation.”

Danny Kanso
(404) 656-5030