Historical Session Convenes Today

The first session of Georgia?s 148th General Assembly begins today.  For the first time since reconstruction, Republicans will control both houses of the legislature and the governor?s office.  

With expectations that they will remain in the majority for the foreseeable future, Republicans have worked deliberately and cautiously to complete their transition to power.  Working with an entirely clean slate, the new Republican House leadership has not made public their choices for committee chairmanships and assignments.  After a series of interviews with prospective committee chairs, the House leadership is utilizing a computer scoring system to help them determine the outcome.  The computer generated results are expected to be released late Monday night or early Tuesday.

The Senate leadership is also reorganizing.  The Senate plans to announce its committee assignments at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday.  

The first order of business for the House?s new leadership will be to change longstanding rules that mandate that members remain on their committees from one session to another.  The new rules will allow Republicans to take a majority of seats on Appropriations and other important committees.  For example, look for Rep. Bob Holmes (D-Atlanta) to both lose his chairmanship and his seat on the House Education Committee in order to make way for a Republican chair and majority.
Insurance Regulatory Relief Likely to Get Legs in 2005 Legislative Session

Reece & Associates continues to work with several members of the House and Senate leadership to advance modernization of insurance regulation in Georgia.  The firm senses an opportunity to replace Georgia?s antiquated insurance regulatory scheme with a system based on a philosophy that smaller and more efficient government promotes increased competition and better results for consumers and players in the marketplace.  Reece & Associates has requested input from its insurance clients to ensure that the insurance reform legislation is modeled correctly.  
Spyware Legislation To Be Considered in Georgia

Georgia may soon be on the cutting edge of technology legislation.  House Majority Leader-elect Jerry Keen (R-St. Simons Island) has indicated that he will be very involved in this issue and expects the item to be a priority in the newly formed House Information Technology Committee.

The legislation would likely prohibit unfair or deceptive practices related to spyware?software that steals personal information from a user’s computer or highjacks its browser.  Anti-spyware advocates hope that the Georgia legislation could become a national model, going further than similar legislation that has been introduced or passed in a handful of states.  
Week Blitz of Fundraisers

As a result of Georgia?s law prohibiting incumbent candidates from fundraising during the legislative session, the week leading up to January 10th has turned into a fundraising blitz.  Members of Reece & Associates attended as many as four events a day for lawmakers.  Of the dozens of events held, less then a handful were for Democrats, as they appeared to be taking a low profile.  

Reece & Associates and its clients hosted five separate events for Republicans in the past week including House Majority Leader-elect Jerry Keen (R-St. Simons Island), Senate Majority Leader Bill Stephens (R-Canton), Representative Mike Coan (R- Lawrenceville) and House Republican Caucus Chair Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta).
Healthcare Costs?Perdue?s Number One Budget Issue

Governor Sonny Perdue’s proposed Medicaid budget cuts may not be as deep as previously thought. The proposed cuts, around $120 million, are relatively less than the $172 to $327 million previously considered.

With the backing of the administration, the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH), in an effort to reduce spiraling Medicaid costs, has introduced a plan to move Medicaid recipients into managed care.  On January 6, 2005, DCH released a request for proposals (RFP).  DCH divides the state into six regions including Atlanta, Central, East, North, Southeast, and Southwest.  Each of these regions has opened up for bidding to accept two different Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), with the exception of Atlanta, whose residents may have four to five options.  HMOs such as Blue Cross Blue Shield are expected to take the lead in the race for the billion dollar contracts.

The managed care program will initially cover one million Medicaid participants.  Under the proposed program, the only residents that will not be switched to managed care are aged, blind and disabled, or those in long-term health plans such as nursing homes.  Expect DCH to release a supplemental RFP in February that covers disease management to help the state reduce the costs of these most expensive patients in the Medicaid system.  

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