2021 Georgia Code
Title 31 - Health
Chapter 2 - Department of Community Health
§ 31-2-4. (See Editor's notes.) Department's Powers, Duties, Functions, and Responsibilities; Divisions; Directors; Contracts for Health Benefits

Universal Citation: GA Code § 31-2-4 (2021)
      1. The Department of Community Health is re-created and established to perform the functions and assume the duties and powers exercised on June 30, 2009, by the Department of Community Health, the Division of Public Health of the Department of Human Resources, and the Office of Regulatory Services of the Department of Human Resources, unless specifically transferred to the Department of Human Services, and such department, division, and office shall be reconstituted as the Department of Community Health effective July 1, 2009. The department shall retain powers and responsibility with respect to the expenditure of any funds appropriated to the department including, without being limited to, funds received by the state pursuant to the settlement of the lawsuit filed by the state against certain tobacco companies, State of Georgia, et al. v. Philip Morris, Inc., et al., Civil Action #E-61692, V19/246 (Fulton County Superior Court, December 9, 1998).
      2. On and after July 1, 2011, the functions, duties, and powers of the Department of Community Health relating to the former Division of Public Health of the Department of Human Resources shall be performed and exercised by the Department of Public Health pursuant to Code Section 31-2A-2. No power, function, responsibility, duty, or similar authority held by the Department of Community Health as of June 30, 2009, shall be diminished or lost due to the creation of the Department of Public Health.
    1. The director of the Division of Public Health in office on June 30, 2009, and the director of the Office of Regulatory Services in office on June 30, 2009, shall become directors of the respective division or office which those predecessor agencies or units have become on and after July 1, 2009, and until such time as the commissioner appoints other directors of such divisions or units. The position of director of the Division of Public Health shall be abolished effective July 1, 2011.
  1. Reserved.
  2. The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia is authorized to contract with the department for health benefits for members, employees, and retirees of the board of regents and the dependents of such members, employees, and retirees and for the administration of such health benefits. The department is also authorized to contract with the board of regents for such purposes.
  3. In addition to its other powers, duties, and functions, the department:
    1. Shall be the lead agency in coordinating and purchasing health care benefit plans for state and public employees, dependents, and retirees and may also coordinate with the board of regents for the purchase and administration of such health care benefit plans for its members, employees, dependents, and retirees;
    2. Is authorized to plan and coordinate medical education and physician work force issues;
    3. Shall investigate the lack of availability of health insurance coverage and the issues associated with the uninsured population of this state. In particular, the department is authorized to investigate the feasibility of creating and administering insurance programs for small businesses and political subdivisions of the state and to propose cost-effective solutions to reducing the numbers of uninsured in this state;
    4. Is authorized to appoint a health care work force policy advisory committee to oversee and coordinate work force planning activities;
    5. Is authorized to solicit and accept donations, contributions, and gifts and receive, hold, and use grants, devises, and bequests of real, personal, and mixed property on behalf of the state to enable the department to carry out its functions and purposes;
    6. Is authorized to award grants, as funds are available, to hospital authorities, hospitals, and medical-legal partnerships for public health purposes, pursuant to Code Sections 31-7-94 and 31-7-94.1 and paragraph (11) of this subsection;
    7. Shall make provision for meeting the cost of hospital care of persons eligible for public assistance to the extent that federal matching funds are available for such expenditures for hospital care. To accomplish this purpose, the department is authorized to pay from funds appropriated for such purposes the amount required under this paragraph into a trust fund account which shall be available for disbursement for the cost of hospital care of public assistance recipients. The commissioner, subject to the approval of the Office of Planning and Budget, on the basis of the funds appropriated in any year, shall estimate the scope of hospital care available to public assistance recipients and the approximate per capita cost of such care. Monthly payments into the trust fund for hospital care shall be made on behalf of each public assistance recipient and such payments shall be deemed encumbered for assistance payable. Ledger accounts reflecting payments into and out of the hospital care fund shall be maintained for each of the categories of public assistance established under Code Section 49-4-3. The balance of state funds in such trust fund for the payment of hospital costs in an amount not to exceed the amount of federal funds held in the trust fund by the department available for expenditure under this paragraph shall be deemed encumbered and held in trust for the payment of the costs of hospital care and shall be rebudgeted for this purpose on each quarterly budget required under the laws governing the expenditure of state funds. The state auditor shall audit the funds in the trust fund established under this paragraph in the same manner that any other funds disbursed by the department are audited;
    8. Shall classify and license community living arrangements in accordance with the rules and regulations promulgated by the department for the licensing and enforcement of licensing requirements for persons whose services are financially supported, in whole or in part, by funds authorized through the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities. To be eligible for licensing as a community living arrangement, the residence and services provided must be integrated within the local community. All community living arrangements licensed by the department shall be subject to the provisions of Code Sections 31-2-8 and 31-7-2.2. No person, business entity, corporation, or association, whether operated for profit or not for profit, may operate a community living arrangement without first obtaining a license or provisional license from the department. A license issued pursuant to this paragraph is not assignable or transferable. As used in this paragraph, the term "community living arrangement" means any residence, whether operated for profit or not, which undertakes through its ownership or management to provide or arrange for the provision of housing, food, one or more personal services, support, care, or treatment exclusively for two or more persons who are not related to the owner or administrator of the residence by blood or marriage;
    9. Shall establish, by rule adopted pursuant to Chapter 13 of Title 50, the "Georgia Administrative Procedure Act," a schedule of fees for licensure activities for institutions and other health care related entities required to be licensed, permitted, registered, certificated, or commissioned by the department pursuant to Chapter 7, 13, 23, or 44 of this title, Chapter 5 of Title 26, paragraph (8) of this subsection, or Article 7 of Chapter 6 of Title 49. Such schedules shall be determined in a manner so as to help defray the costs incurred by the department, but in no event to exceed such costs, both direct and indirect, in providing such licensure activities. Such fees may be annually adjusted by the department but shall not be increased by more than the annual rate of inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the United States Department of Labor. All fees paid thereunder shall be paid into the general funds of the State of Georgia. It is the intent of the General Assembly that the proceeds from all fees imposed pursuant to this paragraph be used to support and improve the quality of licensing services provided by the department;
      1. May accept the certification or accreditation of an entity or program by a certification or accreditation body, in accordance with specific standards, as evidence of compliance by the entity or program with the substantially equivalent departmental requirements for issuance or renewal of a permit or provisional permit, provided that such certification or accreditation is established prior to the issuance or renewal of such permits. The department may not require an additional departmental inspection of any entity or program whose certification or accreditation has been accepted by the department, except to the extent that such specific standards are less rigorous or less comprehensive than departmental requirements. Nothing in this Code section shall prohibit either departmental inspections for violations of such standards or requirements or the revocation of or refusal to issue or renew permits, as authorized by applicable law, or for violation of any other applicable law or regulation pursuant thereto.
      2. For purposes of this paragraph, the term:
        1. "Entity or program" means an agency, center, facility, institution, community living arrangement, drug abuse treatment and education program, or entity subject to regulation by the department under Chapters 7, 13, 22, 23, and 44 of this title; Chapter 5 of Title 26; paragraph (8) of this subsection; and Article 7 of Chapter 6 of Title 49.
        2. "Permit" means any license, permit, registration, certificate, or commission issued by the department pursuant to the provisions of the law cited in division (i) of this subparagraph;
      1. Is authorized to approve medical-legal partnerships that comply with standards and guidelines established for such programs for purposes of determining eligibility for grants. The department shall seek input from legal services organizations, community health advocacy organizations, hospitals, diagnostic and treatment centers, and other primary and specialty health care providers in establishing such standards and guidelines.
      2. For purposes of this paragraph, the term "medical-legal partnership" means a program conducted or established by a nonprofit entity through a collaboration pursuant to a written agreement between one or more medical service providers and one or more legal services programs, including those based within a law school, to provide legal services without charge to assist income-eligible individuals and their families in resolving legal matters or other needs that have an impact on the health of such individuals and families. Written agreements may include a memorandum of understanding or other agreement relating to the operations of the partnership and encompassing the rights and responsibilities of each party thereto. The medical service provider or providers may provide referrals of its patients to the legal services program or programs on matters that may potentially impact the health, health care, or the health care costs of a patient.
      3. A medical-legal partnership that complies with the standards and guidelines established pursuant to this paragraph and has demonstrated the ability and experience to provide high quality patient centered legal services regarding legal matters or other needs that have an impact on the health of individuals and families shall be approved by the department.
      4. This paragraph shall not be construed to require any medical-legal partnership or similar entity to seek or attain approval pursuant to this paragraph in order to operate;
    10. In cooperation with the Department of Corrections and the State Board of Pardons and Paroles, shall establish and implement a Medicaid eligibility determination procedure so that inmates being considered for parole who are eligible for long-term care services may apply for Medicaid; and
    11. Shall request federal approval for and facilitate the application of certificates of need for facilities capable of providing long-term care services, with Medicaid as the primary funding source, to inmates who are eligible for such services and funding upon his or her release from a public institution, as such term is defined in Code Section 49-4-31.

(Code 1981, §31-5A-4, enacted by Ga. L. 1999, p. 296, § 1; Ga. L. 2001, p. 1240, § 1; Ga. L. 2002, p. 1132, § 1; Ga. L. 2002, p. 1324, § 1-4; Code 1981 §31-2-4, as redesignated by Ga. L. 2009, p. 453, § 1-1/HB 228; Ga. L. 2009, p. 745, § 2/SB 97; Ga. L. 2010, p. 1014, § 1/HB 994; Ga. L. 2011, p. 705, § 4-2/HB 214; Ga. L. 2014, p. 397, § 1/SB 352; Ga. L. 2018, p. 550, § 3-2/SB 407; Ga. L. 2019, p. 1056, § 31/SB 52; Ga. L. 2020, p. 95, § 2/HB 987.)

The 2018 amendment, effective July 1, 2018, deleted "and" at the end of division (d)(10)(B)(ii), substituted "; and" for the period at the end of subparagraph (d)(11)(D), and added paragraphs (d)(12) and (d)(13).

The 2019 amendment, effective May 12, 2019, part of an Act to revise, modernize, and correct the Code, deleted "and" at the end of subparagraph (d)(11)(D).

The 2020 amendment, effective June 30, 2020, inserted "certificated," in the first sentence of paragraph (d)(9) and inserted "certificate," near the beginning of division (d)(10)(B)(ii).

Cross references.

- Georgia Commission on Women, T. 50, C. 12, A. 5.

Code Commission notes.

- Ga. L. 2009, p. 745, § 2(14)/SB 97, effective July 1, 2009, purported to substitute "State Personnel Administration" for "State Merit System of Personnel Administration" in former Code Section 31-5A-4, but that amendment was not given effect due to the redesignation and amendment by Ga. L. 2009, p. 453, § 1-1/HB 228, effective July 1, 2009.

Pursuant to Code Section 28-9-5, in 2009, "work force" was substituted for "workforce" in paragraph (d)(2) and "of" was deleted preceding "the amount required" in the second sentence of paragraph (d)(7).

Editor's notes.

- Ga. L. 2009, p. 453, § 1-1/HB 228, effective July 1, 2009, redesignated former Code Section 31-2-4 as present Code Section 31-2-9.

For application of this statute in 2020 and 2021, see Executive Orders,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, and

A listing of Executive Orders issued in 2020 and 2021 can be found at https://gov.georgia.gov/executive-action.

Administrative Rules and Regulations.

- Hearings and petitions for rule-making, Official Compilation of the Rules and Regulations of the State of Georgia, Department of Human Services, Administration, Chapter 290-1-1.

Law reviews.

- For article on the 2011 amendment of this Code section, see 28 Ga. St. U. L. Rev. 147 (2011). For article on the 2018 amendment of this Code section, see 35 Ga. St. U. L. Rev. 45 (2018).


Cited in Ga. Dep't of Cmty. Health, Div. of Health Planning v. Gwinnett Hosp. Sys., 262 Ga. App. 879, 586 S.E.2d 762 (2003); Live Oak Consulting, Inc. v. Dep't of Cmty. Health, 281 Ga. App. 791, 637 S.E.2d 455 (2006).

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