129th Edition

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129th EditionJanuary 27, 2022

State Affairs

Committee Hearings and Emory Healthcare Testimony 

This week, the Georgia General Assembly completed Legislative Day eight. Committee hearings are in full swing and legislation is starting to move through the legislative process. On January 25, the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee held a hearing on Senate Bill 330 - the ‘Giving the Gift of Life Act’ - sponsored by Senator Albers (R-Roswell). Emory Healthcare was invited to provide testimony in support of the legislation which would protect living donors from losing or being denied life insurance, raise the tax credit to $25,000 from $10,000 and provide a tax credit for businesses to assist their employees with organ donation. The legislation passed out of committee unanimously with bi-partisan support. 

Matt Wain, Chief Executive Officer, Emory University Hospital, Emory University Orthopedics & Spine Hospital and Emory Wesley Woods Hospital, provided testimony in support of the bill on behalf of Emory Healthcare. View the full committee hearing and CEO Wain’s comments (30:49-32:20) here

Workforce - A Priority Under the Gold Dome 

According to the Georgia Department of Labor, the state’s unemployment rate is at a record low 2.8 percent and there are over 300,000 job openings in the state. During last week’s budget hearings and even prior to the session during Speaker Ralston’s preview of 2022, it was made clear that workforce is a top priority for both chambers and members on both sides of the aisle. This issue will be addressed through regulatory changes, state appropriations and legislation. The State Affairs Team will work with all stakeholders to address the shortage of workforce within the university, healthcare system, community and state. 

Mental Health Omnibus Legislation

On January 26, Speaker of the House Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) held a press conference to introduce the House mental health omnibus legislation. Speaker Ralston summarized the legislation into the following key components: access to care, mental health parity for providers and patients, workforce initiatives, transparency and accountability and resources and tools for frontline responders and communities. The State Affairs Team will work with the Speaker’s office, other House members and their Senate colleagues to ensure this legislation has a positive impact on Emory’s patients, workforce and anyone else who receives care within our system. 

Mayor Dickens’ Visit Under the Gold Dome

On January 24, Mayor Dickens visited the Capitol. Mayor Dickens met with elected officials and made a special stop in both the Senate and House Chambers. He gave a speech in each chamber and was even asked by the Speaker to walk down the middle aisle. This is an honor that is reserved for House elected officials only. When the Governor comes to deliver his State of the State in the House Chamber, there is a formal process to invite him in and have him and his escorting committee walk down the middle aisle. It was a unique event, an honor for the Mayor and a show of bi-partisan support to bring city officials and members together under the Gold Dome. 

Adjournment Resolution

The House and Senate have agreed to a schedule for the remainder of the 2022 Legislative Session. Two important dates to note are Crossover Day on March 15. This the deadline for a bill originating in one chamber to pass to be eligible for consideration by the other chamber. Sine Die - the last day of session - is scheduled for April 4. Please click here for the full 2022 Legislative Session schedule.

Federal Affairs

On January 25, Dane Peterson participated in a Hospital Roundtable held by Representative Lucy McBath (D-GA). Dane’s remarks focused on the current short and long term financial difficulties and possible solutions to our current labor shortages. We look forward to continuing to find ways to support Emory’s front line healthcare workers with Rep. McBath and the rest of the Georgia Congressional delegation.

Congressional Update

Pandemic Preparednes

On January 26, Senators Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) released a discussion draft of their bi-partisan pandemic and public health preparedness bill. The Prepare for and Respond to Existing Viruses, Emerging Threats, and Pandemics Act (PREVENT Pandemics Act) encompasses proposals to improve data collection, speed up vaccine development and treatments, and facilitate better communication related to public health. It also includes provisions aimed at improving recruitment and retention of frontline public health workers. A section-by-section look at the proposed legislation can be found here. OGCA has been working closely with the HELP committee on this and will continue to as it goes through the legislative process.

Build Back Better

After months of negotiations and setbacks, the nearly $2 trillion Build Back Better package appears to be stalled for the time being. President Biden has stated his confidence that a number of provisions from BBB can be broken off into standalone proposals and signed into law before the midterm elections. While some members agree, they also recognize the negotiations will be starting from scratch.

USICA

President Biden is urging Congress to pass the Senate-approved United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA). Of particular interest to Emory, the bill provides $52 billion to create the National Science Foundation Directorate of Technology and Innovation. On January 25, the House released the America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology and Economic Strength (COMPETES) Act of 2022. The legislation includes historic investment in the production of American-made semiconductors, tackles supply chain issues, boosts support for America’s scientific research and technological leadership, and seeks to strengthen economic and national security both domestically and internationally. The full legislative text can be found here and a section-by-section look at the bill is available here. AAU has released a statement in support of the bill. The full statement can be found here. The differing Senate and House versions will need to be reconciled in a conference committee.

Administrative Outreach

Emory calls on the Administration to provide a longer extension of the Public Health Emergency.

Fourteen chief executives of major academic health centers, including Dr. Jon Lewin, sent a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra to advocate for an extension for the Public Health Emergency (PHE) beyond its current 90-day window. With further extension, the PHE declaration will offer much needed stability and allow Emory the ability to better plan, budget, and invest in delivery of care during the pandemic. To view the letter, please click here

Spotlight on increased use of Nurse Staffing Agencies

Over 200 members of the House including 7 bipartisan members from Georgia have written to the Administration laying out their concerns about the rise of the staffing agencies rates during the pandemic. A copy of the letter can be found here.  

Nominations/Opportunities

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), has announced the availability of $13 million in funding to increase access to behavioral health care services and to address health inequities in rural America. This will include evidence-based, trauma-informed treatment for substance use disorders. HRSA’s office of Rural Health Policy will make awards through the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP) - Behavioral Health Care Support.

Community Engagement

DeKalb Chamber Recognition

On January 21, the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, along with OGCA’s Kendra Price, delivered lunches to the Emory Infectious Disease Clinic at Emory University Hospital Midtown. This gesture by the DeKalb Chamber was based on the theme, “A Salute to Heroes," which was chosen to honor the sacrifice and dedication of healthcare workers, public safety officers, and first responders in response to the current public health emergency. A special thanks to our healthcare workers for all that you do!

Emory Partners with APS

Through a new collaboration, Emory’s Faculty Staff Assistance Program will provide an immediate and urgent response to Atlanta Public School employees who may need emotional or behavioral assistance during work hours. Read more here

Faith in the Vaccine -- Spring 2022 Children's Clinics

This spring, Emory Healthcare and Emory OSRL’s Faith in the Vaccine (FIVP) leaders are organizing pediatric vaccine clinics for elementary students and educational webinars for their parents in Dekalb County. We are partnering with the Refugee Women’s Network and the International Rescue Committee/CORE. The flyer below includes information for the next clinic.

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