The Georgia Senate’s health committee on Thursday advanced two bills, Senate Bill 357 and Senate Bill 352. SB 352 would combat elements of the opioid epidemic that is ravaging Georgia.

Georgia Senate health bills advance to floor, will face scrutiny

Two proposals to reorganize health care in Georgia government passed easily Thursday through the state Senate Committee on Health and Human Services. That is the committee whose members drew up the bills, and they passed by unanimous voice vote.

Senate Bill 357, which would create a Health Coordination and Innovation Council, and Senate Bill 352, which would combat elements of the opioid crisis, now move to the Senate floor. There and in the House they are likely to undergo more intensive scrutiny and change.

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Senate Health and Human Services Chairwoman Renee Unterman, R-Buford, said she expects that. “This is only the beginning of the process of these omnibus bills,” Unterman told the committee prior to the votes.

Following the meeting Unterman said it was a great relief to have the bills finally on the road. She said she “definitely” thinks they have a chance, though some in the House have different ideas about forming the coordination council.

“It’s been criticized that it’s just another committee, another layer of government,” she said. However, she cited the difficulty in getting consensus on immensely complicated issues such as federal Medicaid waivers and fighting a new epidemic. “You have got to have an infrastructure that vets these ideas.”

Unterman hopes that SB 352 will be paired with an allocation of money from the state budget for funding drug rehabilitation efforts.

She said she expects the two bills to be on the Senate floor next week.

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