House Bill 769, sponsored by House Higher Education Chairman, Rick Jasperse seeks to provide solutions to revitalize and repopulate Georgia’s most rural communities. On Thursday, March 15th, the state Senate passed House Bill 769 by a vote of 48-3, which implements healthcare recommendations provided by the House Rural Development Council and allocates funding for the creation of a Rural Center for Health Care Innovation and Sustainability.

As an initiative to improve and provide adequate health care in rural Georgia communities, the proposal outlines the development of an incentive program that aims to increase the number of healthcare providers in rural communities.  House Bill 769 now allows for the purchase of failing or closed hospitals in adjoining counties with less than 50,000 residents to be established as micro-hospitals in rural areas that provide 24-hour emergency services 7 days a week.

The Rural Health System Innovation Center introduced in the legislation will serve as a research hub to identify challenges and offer policy recommendations for affordable and accessible healthcare practices. Additionally, House Bill 769 permits the authorization of prescriptions and refills from remote pharmacists who are licensed to practice in the state. Rural hospitals will be equipped with telepharmacy technology to provide 24-hour, in-house services in the event that a pharmacist is not onsite.

The expansion of rural prosperity in the areas of broadband technologies, economic development, healthcare, and education is a well-established Chamber priority, and as such, the organization supports effective measures that increase access to healthcare. As the state’s largest business advocate, the Chamber commends the hard work and dedication of Representative Rick Jasperse, the House Rural Development Council, and members of the General Assembly in their pursuit to advance the quality of life and business climate in Georgia’s most underserved communities. On March 21st, House Bill 769 received the approval of the state House and has been transmitted to the governor’s desk for further consideration.

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