Georgia Senate passes ‘fetal heartbeat’ bill 
The Georgia Senate passed a bill (H.B. 481) by Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Marietta) that would outlaw abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected unless the pregnancy is the result of rape (with a police report) or incest, the abortion is necessary to avert death or serious bodily harm to the mother, it is necessary to preserve the life of an unborn child, or the pregnancy is deemed medically futile. This measure would also allow a woman who seeks an abortion to potentially sue the physician who performs the abortion. The House must now agree to the changes that were made by the Senate.
MAG is actively opposing this legislation because it would result in the criminal prosecution of physicians who perform medical procedures that are within their scope of practice, it would create a new avenue for lawsuits against physicians, and it could undermine efforts to recruit and retain OB-GYN in Georgia
“It is essential to remember that MAG is not weighing in on abortion from a public policy perspective – as that’s an individual decision,” explains MAG President Rutledge Forney, M.D. MAG is simply promoting policies that were established by its House of Delegates.”
Having consulted with MAG’s Executive Committee and a MAG task force, Dr. Forney recently sent a letter to Georgia Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) to oppose H.B. 481 because it is inconsistent with MAG policy. 
MAG policy 525.996 states that…
“To preserve quality health care for women, MAG shall: 1) oppose any legislation that violates the doctor/patient relationship and 2) oppose legislation that threatens criminal prosecution against physicians who diagnosis, prescribe and perform medical treatment within their scope of practice and 3) support women and couples who seek and receive fertility treatment and their decisions concerning embryos created as part of that treatment and 4) support policies and legislation that allow women and families to maintain access to quality health care in Georgia.”
MAG policy 5.999 states that…  
“Abortions should be performed by a properly qualified Doctor of Medicine. The procedure should take place in a hospital or clinic that has personnel and facilities which will provide adequate protection against infection, and proper equipment to combat blood loss, shock or respiratory distress. Physicians must have the right to refuse to perform abortions for any reason.”
And MAG policy 120.986 states that…  
“MAG supports legislation that requires pharmacists to fill legally valid prescriptions; however, in the case of a pharmacist who has issued a written objection to dispensing abortion drugs, such pharmacist shall provide immediate referral to an appropriate alternative dispensing pharmacy, and immediately return the prescription to the prescription holder, without interference.” 
Dr. Forney stresses that, “While this is a divisive issue, we are adhering to the policies that were adopted by MAG’s House of Delegates. This isn’t an issue we sought out, and we did not receive any prior notice that this bill was going to be introduced until it actually was.”
MAG also doesn’t believe that the bill would survive judicial scrutiny.
Gov. Kemp to get bills on PDMP & med-mal agreements  
The House passed a bill (S.B. 121) by Sen. Larry Walker (R-Perry) that would 1) increase how long prescription information remains in the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) data base from two years to five years and 2) authorize the State Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit to access the PDMP data base for enforcement purposes. MAG expressed concerns about increasing the number of non-clinicians who have access to the PDMP as this measure worked its way through the process. This bill will now go to Gov. Brian Kemp.  
Meanwhile, the Senate passed a bill (H.B. 128) by Rep. Deborah Silcox (R-Sandy Springs) that would exempt “low” payments under high-low agreements in medical malpractice cases from the requirement to report settlements to GCMB. MAG supports this bill, which is on its way to the governor’s desk as well.
House subcommittee passes bill with H.B. 84 transparency provisions 
The House Life and Health Subcommittee of the Insurance Committee passed a bill (S.B. 56) by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) – but not before replacing the measure’s original language with 1) the transparency provisions (i.e., information physicians, hospitals, and insurers would have to provide to patients) from H.B. 84 by Rep. Richard Smith (R-Columbus) and 2) a payment model for out-of-network emergency care that would be the greater of 150 percent of Medicare or the contracted rate – provisions that MAG opposes. The measure will now go to the full House Insurance Committee. 
The House Life and Health Subcommittee also passed a bill (S.B. 142) by Sen. Larry Walker (R-Perry) that would require insurers to note that an insured person is fully-insured on their health insurance identification card. MAG supports this legislation, which is also headed to the full House Insurance Committee. 
Both Senate & House HHS pass key health care bills  
The Senate Health and Human Services Committee (HHS) Committee passed two bills by Rep. Dave Belton (R-Buckhead). H.B. 26 would “facilitate telehealth and temporary in-person, face-to-face [care] across jurisdictional boundaries,” while H.B. 39 would make it easier for physical therapists from other states who participate in the Physical Therapy Licensure Compact to get a license to practice in Georgia. MAG is keeping a close eye on both bills, which have moved into the Senate Rules Committee.
Meanwhile, the House HHS Committee passed a bill (S.B. 207) by Sen. Dean Burke, M.D. (R-Bainbridge) that would 1) change the name of the Georgia Board for Physician Workforce to the Georgia Board for Health Care Workforce and 2) change its makeup to include one APRN, one PA, and one dentist. MAG is watching this legislation, which is on its way to the House Rules Committee. 
The House HHS Committee also heard presentations on the importance of vaccinations and vaccine education by Terri McFadden, M.D., the president of the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and Jamie Schanbaum, a para-athlete and meningitis survivor. 
House subcommittee passes Medicaid waiver bill 
The House Special Committee on Access to Quality Health Care passed a bill (S.B. 106) by Sen. Blake Tillery (R-Vidalia) that would authorize the Georgia Department of Community Health to submit a Section 1115 waiver to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to expand the number of Georgians who are insured by Georgia’s Medicaid program. This measure would also enable Gov. Brian Kemp to submit a Section 1332 waiver to the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to get permission to “pursue innovative strategies for providing their residents with access to high quality, affordable health insurance.”
MAG’s policy is to support 1) “a Medicaid waiver to close the coverage gap in Georgia in a fiscally responsible and sustainable way that meets the needs of patients and physicians which includes, but is not limited to, the following: a) that patients receive proven, cost effective care that is not impeded by unnecessary barriers to enrollment or unaffordable cost-sharing and b) that such a waiver eliminate regulatory barriers to providing proven, cost effective care, and seek parity for all physician services with the Medicare fee schedule and 2) a waiver from HHS to allow Georgia to use the Medicaid expansion funds to buy private insurance in the state health insurance exchange for eligible Georgia citizens at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level.” 
S.B. 106 is now in the House Rules Committee. 
Senate Finance passes bill with CON provisions  
The Senate Finance Committee passed a bill (H.B. 186) by Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) that included several certificate of need (CON) provisions, including 1) limiting the “rival” health care entities that can oppose a CON application to those that are within a 35-mile radius of a proposed project and 2) creating a pathway for Cancer Treatment Centers of America to add more beds and serve more patients in Georgia and 3) increasing the financial thresholds for hospital construction and medical equipment. This bill is now in the Senate Rules Committee. 
House passes measure to form study committee to look at APRN/PA oversight 
The House passed a resolution (H.R. 261) by Rep. Mark Newton, M.D. (R-Augusta) that will result in the creation of a House Study Committee on Evaluating and Simplifying Physician Oversight of Advance Practice Registered Nurses and Physician Assistants. MAG supports this measure. The study committee will be formed after the legislative session ends.   
New bill would allow teens to get certain vaccinations without consent
Rep. Teri Anulewicz (D-Smyrna) introduced a bill (H.B. 615) that would allow a 16 or 17-year-old patient to obtain certain vaccinations without their parents’ consent. MAG supports this legislation, which has been assigned to the House Health and Human Services Committee. 
MAG thanks & applauds this week's ‘Doctor of the Day’ volunteers
MAG is thanking and applauding its ‘Doctor of the Day’ volunteers for the week of March 18, which include…
Scott Swayze, M.D.
Chris Walsh, M.D.
Tom Bradbury, M.D.
MAG Doctor of the Day volunteers work in the Medical Aid Station at the state Capitol, where they provide free minor medical care to legislators and their staff members.
Go to for additional information on the MAG ‘Doctor of the Day’ program, including logistical details and FAQ.
Don’t forget to register & get discounted room for MAG’s legislative seminar 

The Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) is reminding members to register and to reserve a room for MAG's 2019 ‘Legislative Education Seminar’ meeting, which will take place at the Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa in Young Harris on May 31-June 2. 

Call 800.201.3205 and mention the “MAG Legislative Education Seminar” or click here to receive a discounted room rate of $199 per night plus taxes and fees. The discount will be available until May 10 or until MAG’s block of rooms sells out. 

The seminar costs $100 per person, which includes a breakfast, a lunch, and two dinners.

Click here to register for the seminar and to select your meal choice for the plated dinner that will take place on Friday, May 31 – keeping in mind that the dinner on Saturday, June 1 will be a buffet. 

Monitor MAG’s communications and for additional details, and contact Derek Norton at or 678.303.9280 with any questions related to the seminar. 
MAG’s 2019 state legislative priorities 

Health Insurance

– Developing a solution for the “surprise health insurance coverage gap”

– Streamlining and improving the prior authorization process

– Promoting more and better coverage options for pain therapy

– Ensuring patients have access to every “in-network” physician for the duration of their contract year

– Requiring insurers to be transparent about their networks, standards of participation, and process for selecting/de-selecting physicians

– Allowing patients to make health care decisions based on the best treatment options, their medical history, and the advice they receive from their physicians vs. an insurers' step therapy protocols

– Continuing to oppose insurers' retrospective ER claims review policies

Rural Health Care

– Recruiting and retaining an adequate physician work force

– Improving the accessibility of health care in rural areas

Patient Safety

– Working with allied stakeholders (e.g., MagMutual) on key patient safety initiatives, including cancer screening and treatment for substance abuse (e.g., detoxification units and “Casey’s Law”)

– Exploring a waiver option to access federal funds to expand the state’s Medicaid program

Scope of Practice

– Addressing scope of practice issues that undermine patient safety

Contact MAG Government Relations Director Derek Norton at or 678.303.9280 with questions related to MAG’s legislative priorities for 2019.
Follow MAG at the Capitol 24/7 
Whether you are using a laptop or a tablet or a handheld device, you can always get the latest state legislative news in Georgia by following MAG on Twitter at, on Facebook at, or by visiting
MAG’s Government Relations Team 
Derek Norton – Director or 404.274.4210  
Bethany Sherrer – Legal Counsel & GAMPAC Manager or 404.354.1863  
Christiana Craddock – Legislative Assistant or 678.303.9271
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