Highlights from the legislature’s first week
A number of health care bills were introduced during the first week of Georgia’s 2017 legislative session.
Sen. Dean Burke, M.D. (R-Bainbridge) introduced S.B. 14 – a measure that would clarify which business types can claim an exemption of up to $10,000 under the state Rural Hospital Income Tax Credit. MAG is assessing the bill, which is in the Senate Finance Committee.
Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) introduced a bill (H.B. 30) that would re-classify the synthetic opioid known as ‘U-4770’ [3,4-dichloro-N-(2-(dimethylamino)cyclohexyl)-N-methylbenzamide] as a Schedule I drug. It is in the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
Rep. Bruce Broadrick (R-Dalton) introduced a bill (H.B. 35) that would require pharmacy benefit managers to confirm their receipt of prior approval requests for prescription drugs within 48 hours. MAG supports the bill, which is in the House Insurance Committee.
Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs) introduced H.B. 36, which would allow optometrists to inject pharmaceutical agents under certain circumstances. The measure would remove restrictions on the medications optometrists can use. It would allow optometrists to inject non-narcotic oral analgesics and hydrocodone and Schedule III or Schedule IV controlled substances that are oral analgesics. MAG opposes the bill because it will undermine patient safety. The measure is in the House Health and Human Services Committee.
Rep. Geoff Duncan (R-Cumming) introduced H.B. 54, a bill that would require “rural hospitals to report payments made to a third party to solicit, administer, or manage the donations [they receive]” to qualify for the state’s rural hospital tax credit. And in some cases it would change the amount that can be claimed as a deduction. MAG is evaluating the bill, which is in the House Ways and Means Committee.
Rep. Rick Williams (R-Milledgeville) introduced a bill (H.B. 55) that would limit the number of consecutive years an individual can serve on a professional licensing board. MAG is watching the measure, which is in the House Regulated Industries Committee.
The Senate adopted a resolution (S.R. 18) by Sen. Butch Miller (R-Gainesville) that recognized January 12 as ‘Addiction Recovery Awareness Day’ in Georgia.
The House, meanwhile, passed a resolution (H.R. 11) that was read by Rep. Betty Price, M.D. (R-Roswell) that recognized MAG President Steven M. Walsh, M.D., as the MAG ‘Doctor of the Day’ at the Capitol on January 11 and which thanked him for his contributions to the state. Click here to read H.R. 11.
A number of health care bills have also been pre-filed, including…
– S.B. 8 (‘Surprise Billing and Consumer Protection Act’) by Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford), which would create a payment system for out-of-network care and prohibit balance billing. MAG opposes the bill in its current form, and MAG Government Relations Director Derek Norton explains that, “We expect to see a substitute (i.e., replacement) for this measure – and MAG is taking an active role in the development of that legislation.”
– S.B. 12 by Sen. Unterman would allow dental hygienists to provide certain services to patients in certain settings under the general supervision of a dentist. This bill would also establish definitions for direct and general supervision.
– S.B 11 by Sen. Michael Rhett (D-Marietta) would expand the existing civil and criminal immunity protection that is in place for emergency and involuntary mental health examinations to emergency medical technicians (EMT) and cardiac technicians. This measure would expand the types of examinations physicians can rely on when they issue a certificate for emergency admission or for emergency involuntary treatment to those performed by EMT and cardiac technicians. It would also increase the types of examinations a physician can use to determine whether a mental health patient should be involuntarily admitted or treated.
– H.B. 7 by Rep. Keisha Waites (D-Atlanta) would, with exceptions, require drivers who make phone calls to do so on a hands-free basis. MAG supports this concept as a patient safety initiative.
– H.B. 8 by Rep. Waites would prohibit the use of mechanical restraints on an inmate during labor, delivery, or post-delivery recovery unless it is deemed necessary to protect the inmate or others.
– H.B 18 by Rep. Scott would prohibit smoking in a motor vehicle when a minor (i.e., younger than 18) is present.
The bills that have been pre-filed are pending committee assignments.
Norton also emphasizes that, “It is clear that MAG's advocacy efforts to ensure Medicaid patients in the state have access to the physicians they need has paid off – as the Governor Deal’s budget recommendations for the 2018 Fiscal Year budget include a $17.9 million increase for primary care and OB/GYN codes, which is one of our legislative priorities for 2017.”
Finally, it is worth noting that Georgia lawmakers recently released three key legislative study committee reports, including…