Lawmakers focus on state budget in session’s second week 
The state budget was the focal point for lawmakers during the 2019 Georgia legislative session’s second week. 
The first step in the process is finalizing the amended budget for 2019 (AFY 2019). The second is developing a budget for FY 2020.   
Gov. Brian Kemp’s budget recommendations for AFY 2019 include…
– $9.3 million for a new, four-year Mercer University School of Medicine medical school campus in Columbus
– $8.4 million to provide mental health services in high schools in the state through the Georgia Apex Program (GAP)
– $54 million for the state’s Indigent Care Trust Fund and Medicaid program, including $18.8 million to ensure that private hospitals in the state are able to secure federal Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) program funds  
Meanwhile, Gov. Kemp’s recommendations for FY 2020 include…
– $5.9 million for gene therapy drug coverage 
– $3.2 million to add long-term acute care hospitals (LTACs) and intermediate rehabilitation facilities (IRFs) as Medicaid providers 
– A $34.4 million reduction to reflect a one-year moratorium of the Health Insurer Provider Fee
– $2.8 million for the Georgia Board for Physician Workforce, including $2.3 million for additional GME slots and $500,000 for the rural loan repayment program
– $4.9 million for addictive diseases bed capacity
During this week’s budget hearings, the commissioners of the various state departments addressed their departmental needs. New Insurance Commissioner Jim Beck pointed out that the budget for Georgia’s insurance departments is lower than most other states. He also noted that health insurers have never been audited to ensure that they are complying with the state’s “prompt pay” law – which was enacted in 2013.
Finally, MAG Government Relations Director Derek Norton reports that bills will being working their way through the legislative process next week, including some that are related to MAG’s priorities for the year (see the article below for details). 
Rep. Mark Newton, M.D., named to key House roles 
Georgia Rep. Mark Newton, M.D. (R-Augusta) will serve in several key roles in the 2019-2020 state legislative term, including chief deputy whip, vice chair of the House Health & Human Services Committee, as a member of the House Ways & Means Committee, and as a member of a special House committee on access to quality health care.
A press release from the Georgia House of Representatives noted that, “Members of the majority whip team and the chief deputy, in particular, play a critical role by monitoring legislation as it moves through both chambers of the General Assembly and by helping members of the majority caucus to better understand the details of bills and resolutions.”
Majority Whip Rep. Trey Kelley (R-Cedartown) said that, “I’m honored to have Representative Newton serve alongside me as chief deputy whip. Dr. Newton is a Desert Storm Veteran, doctor and small business owner. I am confident he will be an asset to the majority whip team and our state.”
Rep. Newton represents the 123rd district, which includes parts of Columbia and Richmond counties. 
MAG reminding members to register for ‘Physicians’ Day at Capitol’ 
The Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) is reminding its members to register for the 2019 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, February 20. 
“In addition to getting the chance to offer our perspectives on what’s best for our patients and our profession, Physicians Day at the Capitol is a fun and interesting experience,” says MAG President Rutledge Forney, M.D. “I can’t think of a better or more efficient way to build meaningful relationships with the state lawmakers who will consider important, consequential health care legislation in 2019 and beyond.”    
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. Brian Kemp 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 – which is across the street from the Capitol – as soon as the General Assembly adjourns. 
In addition to MAG, the event is being sponsored by the Georgia Psychiatric Physicians Association, the Georgia Society of Ophthalmology, the Georgia Medical Directors Association, the Georgia Society of Anesthesiology, the Georgia Society of Interventional Pain Physicians, the Georgia College of Emergency Physicians, the Georgia Radiological Society, the Medical Association of Atlanta, the Hall County Medical Society, the Georgia Orthopaedic Society, the Georgia Society of Dermatology and Dermatological Surgery, the Georgia Chapter of the American College of Cardiology, Physicians for Fair Coverage, Resurgens Orthopaedics, the Georgia Society of Ambulatory Surgery Centers, and the MAG Medical Reserve Corps.
Contact Christiana Craddock at or 678.303.9271 with questions. 
Georgia lawmakers honor MAG president with resolution
On January 15, the Georgia Senate passed a resolution honoring MAG President Rutledge Forney, M.D. S.R. 9 was introduced by Sens. Nikema Williams (D-Atlanta) and Jennifer Jordan (D-Atlanta). Dr. Forney was introduced in the House and the Senate. From the left are Dr. Forney and fellow MAG member Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, M.D. 
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 January 21, which include…
Matt Keadey, M.D.
Indran Indrakrishnan, M.D.
Brandon Giberson, D.O.
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 get early bird discount for MAG’s legislative seminar 
The Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) is reminding members 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.
Contact Patrice Williams at with questions related to lodging. 
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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