Bills would reduce Medicaid claims against estates, enhance agriculture education in Georgia

We are nearing the halfway point of the 2018 Legislative Session and with that comes the race to introduce as many Senate bills as possible before Crossover Day. The Senate was hard at work this week, and I look forward to updating you on the progress we will continue to make in the coming weeks.

Ag education bill

The Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee, which I chair, met last Thursday to discuss a bill that I believe is important for the future of our state.

As most of us know, agriculture is, and always has been, the biggest industry in our state. However, in today’s society, most individuals are several generations removed from the farm. Because of this, I introduced Senate Bill 330 this session to ensure our students are learning about agriculture from an early age.

This bill, if passed by the Senate and House and signed by the Governor, would establish standards and curriculum for the agricultural education program for students in middle and high school. Additionally, it would establish pilot programs for agricultural education in elementary schools.

Many students in both rural and urban Georgia are disconnected from where their food comes from. It’s important that they are informed on this issue to ensure we are producing better, more informed citizens who can help support and contribute to Georgia’s agriculture industry.

Medicaid claims bill

Under the current law, the Department of Community Health may make a claim against the estate of a Medicaid recipient for the amount of any medical assistance payment made on the individual’s behalf by the department. The claim may be waived if evidence suggests enforcement would result in substantial and unreasonable hardship to dependents.

If passed, this bill will require the Commissioner to waive the first $25,000 of any claim against an estate.

This week, I introduced Senate Bill 370, which would amend Title 49 of the Official Code of Georgia, relating to claims made against the estate of Medicaid recipients. If passed, this bill will require the Commissioner to waive the first $25,000 of any claim against an estate.

After hearing concerns from individuals who were negatively affected by the current law, I believe that this is a just and fair way to level the playing field for everyone. Furthermore, I believe that it is our responsibility as legislators to revisit laws to ensure we are helping families who rely on these services.

I am pleased to say that Senate Bill 370 passed unanimously through the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. I look forward to seeing where this legislation goes and working to better the laws for the citizens of Georgia.

Contact me

As always, it’s an honor to serve on your behalf in Atlanta. Please let me know if you ever visit the Capitol. I’d love to have the opportunity to talk to you about issues you find important. If I can be of any assistance, please feel free to reach out to my office at 404.463.5257 or by email at john.wilkinson@senate.ga.gov.

About the author: Sen. John Wilkinson serves as Chairman of the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee and Vice Chairman of the Education and Youth Committee. He represents the 50th Senate District which includes Banks, Franklin, Habersham, Rabun, Stephens and Towns counties and portions of Hall and Jackson counties. He can be reached by phone at 404.463.5257 or by email at john.wikinson@senate.ga.gov.

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