MAG has high expectations for 2018 General Assembly  
Dear MAG members,  
I am genuinely excited to represent you and your patients during the 2018 state legislative session – which will get underway next Monday, January 8. This is my second year as the Medical Assocation of Georgia’s (MAG) chief lobbyist, but you should have great peace of mind knowing that MAG has been the leading advocate for physicians in the state since 1849.  
The legislative process is the single most important way we can improve Georgia’s practice environment and protect and preserve your autonomy as a physician – as well as your relationship with your patients. 
MAG’s Government Relations team has been busy meeting with lawmakers and other important stakeholders since the legislative session ended in 2017, and I truly believe that we are in a great position to enhance Georgia’s heath care system in 2018.
Based on the direction that we received from MAG’s Council on Legislation, MAG’s Board of Directors, and MAG’s House of Delegates, our legislative priorities for the year will be related to out-of-network billing, insurance reform, patient safety, and exploring ways to draw down federal funds to cover uninsured Georgians. We will also continue to take steps to address the state’s prescription drug abuse epidemic by seeking full funding for the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP). And, of course, we will be ready to address any scope of practice battles that come up during this year’s General Assembly. I encourage you to take a few moments to review the article below, which details MAG’s legislative priorities for the year.  
MAG has enjoyed some great success in the legislative arena in recent years. For example, in 2017 MAG helped defeat legislation that would have required physicians to participate in every health plan at all hospitals where they have privileges. MAG also heavily influenced opioid prescribing legislation (H.B. 249), and we successfully removed criminal penalties and significant fines for physicians relating to checking the PDMP. MAG also played a key role in the passage of maintenance of certification legislation, which was one of our priorities for 2017. And MAG was instrumental in securing additional pay for Medicaid primary care and OB-GYN physicians in Georgia in both FY 2016 and FY 2017. 
My expectation is that MAG will enjoy the same kind of success in 2018.   
I encourage you to read this e-News from the Capitol report, which MAG will distribute on Fridays during the legislative session. I also encourage you to share this report with your colleagues and applicable practice staff. 
I cannot overstate the importance of MAG’s political action committee, and so I hope that you will join GAMPAC in 2018. I also encourage you to join us at the ‘Physician’s Day at the Capitol’ in Atlanta on January 31, I hope that you will attend MAG’s ‘Legislative Education Seminar’ at the Brasstown Valley Resort in Young Harris on June 1-3, and I hope that you will sign up to be a MAG ‘Doctor of the Day’ in 2018 (see the articles below for details).  
My thanks go out to MAG’s Council on Legislation and its chair, W. Scott Bohlke, M.D., as well as our legislative allies – including the county medical societies and the state specialty societies – for their ongoing support. 
Finally, I would like to thank the individual physicians who support MAG’s advocacy efforts, whether that’s making a phone call, sending an email, attending an event, or meeting with legislators. Our grassroots efforts in 2017 were a huge part of our success under the Gold Dome.
Please reach out to me or any member of MAG’s Government Relations team any time you have comments or questions during this year’s legislative session. 
We sincerely value your perspective – and know that we are here to serve you. 
Derek Norton
Director, Government Relations
Medical Association of Georgia
MAG encouraging members to register for ‘Physicians’  Day at Capitol’ 
The Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) is encouraging its members to register for the 2018 Georgia ‘Physicians' Day at the Capitol,’ which will take place at the State Capitol in Atlanta from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, January 31. 
“This event is a great experience, and it is an effective way for physicians across specialties and practice settings to have meaningful, face-to-face conversations with the state lawmakers who will be considering important health care legislation that will affect our patients and our profession during this year’s legislative session,” says MAG President Frank McDonald, M.D., M.B.A.      
A continental breakfast will be available in Room 230 at the Capitol beginning at 8 a.m. The formal program will get underway with a briefing at 8:30 a.m. Physicians will then meet with legislators. A group photo with Gov. Nathan Deal is scheduled to take place in the Capitol rotunda at 10 a.m. And physicians and legislators will enjoy lunch in the Floyd Room on the 20th floor of the Sloppy Floyd Building as soon as the General Assembly adjourns. 
In addition to MAG, the event is being sponsored by Resurgens Orthopaedics, the Georgia Society of Ophthalmology, the Georgia Society of the American College of Surgeons, and the Georgia Psychiatric Physicians Association.  
Contact Bethany Sherrer at or 404.354.1863 with questions. 
Rep. Carson to hold press event on distracted driving bill
Rep. John Carson (R-Marietta), the chairman of the House Study Committee on Distracted Driving, will hold a press conference on Wednesday, January 10 at 2 p.m. at the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta to discuss distracted driving legislation that he will introduce during the 2018 legislative session.
Rep. Carson will also address the House Study Committee on Distracted Driving’s final report, which was recently issued detailing the committee’s specific findings and recommendations, including suggestions for proposed legislation.
In a related development, the City of Smyrna recently became the first city in Georgia to pass a “hands-free” driving law. The ordinance was introduced by City Councilman Derek Norton, who also serves as the Medical Association of Georgia’s director of Government Relations.   
It is also worth noting that the MAG Foundation is working with the Medical Association of Atlanta and the MAG Alliance and other stakeholders to highlight the dangers associated with distracted driving with a new ‘Make Georgia Hands-Free’ campaign. Contact Lori Cassity Murphy at or 678.303.9282 to support this effort with a donation or for additional information.  
MAG’s 2018 state legislative priorities 
The Medical Association of Georgia’s (MAG) priorities for the 2018 state legislative session include…
Health Insurance
– Developing a solution for the “surprise health insurance coverage gap.”
– Streamlining and improving the prior authorization process.
– Promoting more and better health insurance coverage options for pain therapy.
– Ensuring that patients have access to every physician insurers advertise as “in-network” for the duration of the contract year to ensure the continuity of care.
– Requiring insurers to be transparent about how they develop their networks, their standards of participation, and the process they use to select and de-select physicians for their networks.
– Allowing patients to make their own health care decisions based on the best treatment options, their medical history, and the advice they receive from their physician rather than an insurer’s step therapy protocols.
Patient Safety
– Working with allied stakeholders (e.g., MagMutual) on key patient safety initiatives, including distracted driving.
– 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 2018.
Make a difference as MAG’s  ‘Doctor of the Day’ 
The Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) is encouraging its members in the state to serve as a MAG ‘Doctor of the Day’ program volunteer during this year’s legislative session, which is expected to run through the end of March.  
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. 
As MAG’s Doctor of the Day, you will…
– Be introduced in the House and Senate chambers by your state representative and senator
– Have your photo taken with the Gov. Nathan Deal (contingent on his availability)
– Have a reserved parking place
– Be assisted by a nurse
– Be protected by the state’s ‘Good Samaritan Law’
The MAG Doctor of the Day program is a non-political service. Physicians do not serve as lobbyists when they serve as a MAG Doctor of the Day volunteer.
If you are interested in serving as a MAG Doctor of the Day volunteer, click here for a form that you can print, complete and submit to Bethany Sherrer at You can also simply call Sherrer at 678.303.9273.
Go to for additional information on the MAG ‘Doctor of the Day’ program, including logistical details and FAQ. 
Save June 1-3 for MAG’s ‘Legislative Education Seminar’
The Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) is encouraging member physicians to save June 1-3 for MAG's 2018 ‘Legislative Education Seminar’ meeting, which will take place at the Brasstown Valley Resort in Young Harris. 
More than 50 physicians and 22 state leaders attended the event in 2017. 
Monitor MAG’s monthly newsletter and for additional details, and contact Derek Norton at or 678.303.9280 with questions. 
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 – Associate, Legal Counsel & GAMPAC Manager or 404.354.1863 
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