5 Health Events in Georgia Worth Watching in 2023 – WABE

Well being points are huge information in Georgia in 2022. This development is more likely to proceed in 2023, together with on the Golden Dome throughout the subsequent legislative session. You may be following WABE to learn how all of it is finished and the way it can affect communities throughout Atlanta and past. Listed below are only a few of the matters the newsroom watches.

1. Entry to psychological well being care in Georgia

The nation grapples with persistent gaps in entry to psychological well being and substance abuse providers and a scarcity of service suppliers. In 2022, the Common Meeting handed the Psychological Well being Parity Act, which requires medical health insurance firms in Georgia to cowl psychological and behavioral well being situations on a par with bodily well being situations. It additionally gives incentives for the event of Georgia’s resourceful workforce and requires the state to trace compliance with the legislation. Within the subsequent legislative session starting Jan. 9, psychological well being advocates will push lawmakers to construct on provisions within the legislation also called Home Invoice 1013 and supply extra funding for community-based habit and psychological well being prevention, therapy and restoration providers.

2. Abortion rights

The previous 12 months has seen months of authorized battles over a Georgia legislation that bans abortions after about six weeks, when cardiac exercise is detected within the womb and earlier than many ladies know they’re pregnant. The battles usually are not over but. Home Invoice 481 went into impact a month after the US Supreme Court docket’s determination in June to strike down abortion ensures in Roe v. Wade. A coalition of abortion rights advocates and medical suppliers has sued to dam the legislation on constitutional grounds. After a two-day trial in Fulton County Superior Court docket, the case is now headed to Georgia Supreme Court docket. Judges there’ll resolve whether or not abortion restrictions can stay in impact in Georgia. It’s not clear when the courtroom will hear the case.

3. Georgia Well being Care Community

In November, Wellstar Well being System closed its century-old Atlanta Medical Heart within the Outdated Fourth Ward, citing mounting monetary losses. The choice to shut the Degree 1 Trauma Heart sparked outcry over the lack of entry to medical care in a scenario with important well being disparities. It additionally raised concern concerning the affect of the closure on close by hospitals, particularly Grady Memorial Hospital, which is the town’s solely different Degree 1 trauma heart. Grady officers advised WABE that the hospital has seen almost 30% of trauma sufferers drop since AMC closed. This previous spring, Wellstar additionally closed AMC South, Fulton County’s solely full-service emergency division south of I-20. Well being advocates say the state must do extra to help the struggling hospital system. They need Georgia to completely develop Medicaid, which Gov. Brian Kemp opposes, to cowl extra Georgians and increase reimbursement to hospitals.

4. Habit and restoration

The drug overdose disaster escalated throughout the epidemic. The US Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention reported 107,622 drug overdose deaths in 2021 — a document quantity — most of them associated to opioids. These deaths have additionally skyrocketed in Georgia. Among the many Georgia Council on Restoration’s priorities for 2023 are extra state and federal funding for community-based therapy and restoration packages led immediately by folks in restoration, and for extra hurt prevention and schooling sources to advertise consciousness of reversing naloxone overdose. The coalition can be searching for to present folks affected by habit and overdoses a better say in how the state allocates a whole bunch of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} from the latest $26 billion opioid settlement.

5. Public Well being and COVID-19

Three years into the pandemic, public well being officers are once more recommending masking indoors in areas with excessive group ranges of COVID-19, in crowded areas corresponding to on public transportation and for folks at excessive danger of extreme an infection. Whereas the nationwide spike for coronavirus stays beneath final winter’s ranges, Georgia has seen a spike in reported instances and COVID-19 hospitalizations since Thanksgiving, simply as flu and RSV exercise have picked up as nicely. Director of the Facilities for Illness Management, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, is urgent federal lawmakers to present the company extra energy, together with the power to drive information sharing between the federal, state and native ranges. She says the broader authority might assist the Atlanta-based company reply higher throughout public well being emergencies. The CDC has come below fireplace for its dealing with of the epidemic, smallpox outbreaks, and different well being crises.

That is a part of WABE’s “Storylines To Watch In 2023” sequence. Click on right here to see what information tales WABE reporters are watching to their beat—together with arts and tradition, prison justice, schooling, the surroundings, housing, immigration, and politics—so you may pay attention to what the 12 months may carry.

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