The Georgia Rural Health Association (GRHA) advocates for the preservation and enhancement of health and health care access for rural Georgians. GRHA, the oldest rural health association in the US, is a nonprofit network of healthcare providers, educators, and individuals united in its commitment to improve health and healthcare services across the continuum of care. In support of rural Georgians, our 2018 GRHA Legislative Agenda is as follows:

Preserve the Certificate of Need (CON) as it is recognized that the Georgia CON brings stability to the health care system for Georgians, especially in rural areas. Deviation from the CON process would allow providers to enter the profitable markets and detract from the patient base required to support the current infrastructure, which would likely harm rural providers.

Raise Medicaid Reimbursement Rate to adequately fund the state portion of Medicaid and PeachCare for Kids budgets for providers. Georgia has a Primary Care shortage and failing to adequately fund the Medicaid reimbursement will only exacerbate shortage of health care providers serving Medicaid patients.

Adequately funding the Georgia Rural Health Safety Net Programs through the Department of Community Health’s State Office of Rural Health, the Department of Public Health, and Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Services such that those services are sufficiently available to rural Georgians. These programs support Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC), rural and Critical Access Hospitals (CAH), rural health networks and other essential components of the health care safety net.

Invest in Primary Care – Support the creation of new GME slots and provide funding to sustain long-term; create tax credits for community based physicians, APRNs, and PAs who provide necessary community based clinical training for Georgia medical, osteopathic, APRN, and physician assistant students. Support initiatives to retain Georgia GME graduates upon completion of training; and support incentives to Georgia medical or osteopathic school graduates who select Georgia Family Medicine or General Internal Residency Programs.

Support continuation and expansion of Governor Deal’s Rural Hospital Stabilization Pilot Program
– Support efforts focused on stabilizing the rural health care delivery system. Support health system collaboration for improved patient outcomes, cost savings and the preservation of rural providers across the continuum of care.

Support the reduction of childhood obesity by encouraging wellness programs and physical activity– Georgia’s childhood obesity rate ranks second nationally. Physical activity is the most cost efficient and effective means of achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Reducing the childhood obesity rate will have the single greatest impact on improved health across their lifetime. Obesity places our children at great risk for life of poor health and higher health costs over their lifetime.

Promote, support and educate on the expansion opportunities for oral health through Dental Hygienists – Support, promote, & educate on the implementation of the 2017 regulatory changes that allow Dental Hygienists to work without direct supervision of a Dentist when performing dental hygienist duties within their scope of practice in public health, Federally Qualified Health Care Centers (FQHCs) and other safety net settings. Vulnerable rural Georgians would be well served by allowing Dental Hygienists to fill this huge gap in our health care system.