Georgia senators want to base health payments upon outcomes

Georgia Senate budget writers want a new approach to spending on mental health and health.

Georgia senators want to base health payments upon outcomes

They want payments to be based on outcomes. This could lead to heated debate as the House pushes for major increases in mental health spending.

Wednesday's version of the state budget approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee for the year starting July 1st. It would spend $53 Billion overall, with $30.2 Billion in state tax money and $17.7B in federal money.

Although the full Senate could vote on budget Friday, differences in House-Senate negotiations will be resolved before the measure can receive final approval and go directly to Governor. Brian Kemp to sign or veto. These talks will likely last until the end of the General Assembly session on April 4.

The House proposal does not change many of the most important items. The document would maintain $2,000 raises to teachers and $5,000 raises to state employees and legislators that will start April 1. The budget for 2023 would also pay the first cost of living increase in 14 years for retired state employees who receive pensions through the Employees Retirement Scheme.

The Senate rejects additional raises for nurses and other staff at mental hospitals. It also reduces planned payments to increase guard salaries in private prisons holding Georgian prisoners. The Senate would also reduce additional House-proposed raises to prosecutors and public defense officers.

A $10 million budget for a new behavioral center would be cut by the Senate. Instead, existing funds will be used to bring 92 additional beds online at Georgia Regional Hospital, DeKalb County.

Instead, senators propose spending $18million more on community boards, which are the state's local mental healthcare providers. They will also reward them for good treatment outcomes, according to Gov. Brian Kemp's administration.

Blake Tillery, a Vidalia Republican, stated that "when we invest in mental healthcare, taxpayers demand that we provide outcomes to support psychological stability."

Similar to the previous proposal, the Senate would allocate $46 million more to state funds to reward quality outcomes for the Medicaid program. This increase would be $137 million after federal money is added.

Tillery stated that senators want $28 million to help K-12 schools improve reading proficiency among third-graders.

The Senate would increase funding for programs that help people with disabilities avoid being placed in a nursing home or group facility. Advocates claim that the state adds approximately 100 slots to the program each year. Tillery proposed 325 slots. The House suggested 325 more slots. Tillery stated that the Senate would propose 513 slots. He said this was the maximum number of slots that disability support providers could create right now. This increased commitment means that the state will add $10.3million to the program next fiscal year.

Senators will take another shot at getting the Georgia Bureau of Investigation open to reopening a Macon medical examiner's laboratory. Because of the extra time and expense required to transport bodies from South Georgia to Atlanta for autopsies, South Georgia counties are pushing for this move. GBI has set aside $2.8 million in the Senate budget to hire 13 medical examiners. It says that it cannot be used elsewhere than Macon.

The Senate would also like to shift $2.4million to create a state trooper pay ladder. This will address problems such as trooper salaries not increasing and staying flat. However, senators will cut plans to hire more troopers in the agency's SWAT team or DUI enforcement unit.

Senators also propose major changes to tuition equalizations grants. This subsidy is for Georgia residents who go to private colleges within the state. Every Georgia resident is now eligible for $825 per year. The Senate would support a House proposal to increase that amount to $900 per year for current students. This would allow them to continue with the current program. The Senate would instead cut the current program for new students and subsidize students in engineering, nursing, and computer science.


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