Georgia health care-related bills become new laws

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It comes the day after he signed historic tax cut legislation into law on Thursday.

ATHENS, Ga. — After Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed historic tax cuts into law  Thursday, he ended his week by signing six more bills that would improve health care access across the Peach state on Friday in Athens.

In his remarks before signing the legislation, the Georgia governor gave some updates on the status of health care and its improvements over the years.

“We are proud of the progress we have made, but we also know that we still have a lot of work to do to ensure all Georgians have access to quality, reliable health care,” Gov. Kemp said.

RELATED: Gov. Kemp signs tax bills into law | Here’s what they will do

He said 87% of Georgians now have three or more health insurance carriers. He also stated that enrollment in the private sector increased from almost half a million to over 1.3 million people.

The governor even boasted about the decrease in health insurance premiums but acknowledged the remaining work that needs to be done in the Peach state.

“As the Lt. Gov. mentioned, we’re creating problems because we are growing so much, but it gives us more missions to work on, and that’s why we are taking action now both through these new facilities and through legislation to ensure that we are ready to meet this need in the years to come,” Kemp added.

He also mentioned the two facilities being created—the University of Georgia’s School of Medicine and Georgia Southern University’s dental school—that will help the state’s health care industry.

Before signing the bills, Kemp briefly mentioned adding more money to the budget for mental health with over $1 billion.

Here are the health care-related bills Gov. Kemp signed into law on Friday:

House Bill 82

This will provide for an expanded rural physician tax credit for both physicians and dentists. According to the governor’s office, the bill is supposed to help individuals in rural and underdeveloped areas gain access to health care. 

“We’re encouraging more students from our great institutions of high learning to practice in communities in desperate need of their services and expertise,” Kemp said ahead of signing the bills into law.

According to the bill’s text, nurse practitioners and physician assistants who work in rural areas will also benefit from the tax credit.

House Bill 872

This new law will provide service-cancelable loans to dental students and other health care professionals who agree to practice in rural areas. It will give priority to roles experiencing particular shortages.

Kemp said on Friday it will help meet the needs of students who are on the frontlines and critical to specific overlooked areas in Georgia.

Senate Bill 480

This bill is similar to House Bill 872 but particularly focuses on mental health and substance use professionals by creating a student loan repayment program.

The Georgia Board of Health Care Workforce will help to determine the details of eligibility requirements, conditions, and agreements.

Senate Bill 293

This is a new law that will help with reorganizing county health boards of health. The governor’s office said it will also open the qualifications for chief executive officer to each board to being licensed physician who practices medicine. 

Senate Bill 377

This law will help define a “qualified residential treatment program” to better conform to federal law. The definition will be instrumental to courts and social services.

House Bill 1339

This bill helps loosen the restrictions around opening new hospitals in the state. It will also allow more tax credits for contributions to rural hospital organizations.

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