Georgia is a world-renowned hub of healthcare innovation and investment, but as in many other places, authorities there struggle to ensure that health care services are provided equally to different segments of the population - whether they are urban or rural, poor or well-off. In the proposed state budget for fiscal 2019, Georgia lawmakers are pursuing several progressive investments in the areas of mental health, treatment of addictions, maternal health and care for rural populations, all of which bode well for vendors and service providers in the state.
In addition to these direct investments in public healthcare, private health facilities are pushing for a loosening of rules around development, while everyday Georgians are using advocating for access to medical cannabis. While many questions remain to be answered, it’s certain that Georgia’s booming health care industry will continue to generate bid opportunities for vendors across a variety of sectors.
Investments in Health Care FY2019
For fiscal 2019, the state of Georgia has committed new funds to a variety of autism treatment services, as well as $2 million to address the troubling problem of maternal mortality in the state. Money is also being appropriated to develop a mobile app to provide mental health services, a project that could require the services of skilled software and IT vendors. The Georgia Department of Human Services will also receive $2.2 million to improve mental health care outcomes for foster children and other programs to develop ‘telemedicine’ services and to purchase related equipment.
Small business owners in Georgia could also benefit from new legislation to reduce regulation and speed up the process to receive work permits for partnering on projects with cities and counties. The new law is intended to streamline working relationships between vendors and public sector buyers.
Recovery and Crisis Centers
The Georgia state Senate has proposed $4 million to fund the building of ‘recovery centers’ for people suffering from opioid addiction and another $3.6 million for a new opioid task force, two initiatives that could require the services of private vendors in the health, construction, security and IT sectors. Further opportunities may arise as a result of another $6 million state lawmakers have proposed to fund new ‘behavioral crisis centers’ and drug use prevention programs in Georgia.
Public Debate on Private Health Facilities
On March 20, the House Judiciary (Civil) Committee made changes to a piece of legislation that will lower barriers to the building of a new medical facility in Alpharetta by a well-known sports medicine doctor and his partners. The changes bring the Institute closer to being exempted from state laws that limit the expansion of health care facilities. Supporters of the project say the development of the Legacy Sports Institute will create 500 jobs and an unknown number of bid opportunities for vendors; opponents from the state hospital industry have fought against the project in court, previously arguing that the new facility should not be exempted from state regulations.
Looking Ahead: Improving Access to Medical Cannabis
A diverse group of advocates for medical cannabis treatments are pushing hard for the state of Georgia to make it easier for people suffering from chronic conditions, including intractable pain and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), to use cannabis oil to treat their ailments.
Since 2015, residents of Georgia who suffer from certain medical conditions have been able to obtain a certificate that exempts them from prosecution for possessing a small amount of cannabis oil; however there is no legal framework for patients in Georgia to purchase cannabis oil in the state. This means that certificate holders must buy cannabis oil from out-of-state providers. Considering the strong effort to improve access to medicinal cannabis in Georgia by grassroots groups, U.S. vendors in this industry may be positioned well to respond to potential future public sector bid opportunities that could seek to source a variety of services to support a more-mature medical cannabis regime.
Progressive Policies, More Opportunities
Judging by the investments detailed in Georgia’s proposed budget for fiscal 2019, state lawmakers are clearly taking a more progressive approach toward improving access to mental health services, supporting comprehensive treatment for addiction, and addressing shortfalls in the way care is provided to women and people in rural communities. These are welcome steps that will ideally help to ensure a healthier future for the people of Georgia, while also providing a variety of opportunities for vendors who partner with government to provide health care services and equipment, now and in years to come.
Nathan Munn | BidNet.com