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… 
Don’t forget to register for January 25 ‘Day at Capitol’
The Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) is reminding its members to register for the 2017 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 25.
“This is a unique opportunity for physicians in every specialty and practice setting to deliver some critical messages to state lawmakers – who will be considering legislation that will have a profound effect on the medical profession in Georgia – in a very unified and powerful way,” says MAG President Steven M. Walsh, M.D. 
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 bsherrer@mag.org or 404.354.1863 with any questions.
‘Top Docs’ show on MAG’s legislative goals now online
A recording of a recent Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) ‘Top Docs Radio’ show that addressed MAG’s goals for the 2017 state legislative session is now available online. The show featured MAG President Steven M. Walsh, M.D., and MAG Executive Director Donald J. Palmisano Jr.
MAG sponsors the ‘Top Docs’ program at 12 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month. Between downloads and live listeners, MAG's ‘Top Docs’ show has reached more than 8,500 listeners – which includes people in all 50 states and 84 countries.
MAG’s ‘Top Docs Radio’ show is supported with a grant from Health Care Research, a subsidiary of Alliant Health Solutions.
MAG’s 2017 state legislative priorities 
The Medical Association of Georgia’s priorities for the 2017 state legislative session include…
Out-of-Network Billing & Network Adequacy
MAG will 1) support reforms that will require appropriate network adequacy standards for health insurers and 2) call for health insurers to be more transparent in their contracts with physicians’ practices and 3) support legislation that will result in physician payment methodologies that are adequate and sustainable for out-of-network emergency care.  
Medicaid Payment Parity
MAG will be an advocate for the General Assembly to continue to fund the Medicaid parity payment program for all areas of primary care.
Maintenance of Certification (MOC)
MAG will 1) work to ensure that Maintenance of Certification is not a condition of licensure or a condition of hospital credentialing and 2) support efforts that will alleviate the costly and burdensome aspects of MOC for physicians.
Patient Safety
MAG will be an advocate for legislation that improves patient safety.
Contact MAG Government Relations Director Derek Norton at dnorton@mag.org or 678.303.9280 with questions related to MAG’s legislative priorities for 2017. 
Make a difference as a MAG ‘Doctor of the Day’ volunteer
The Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) is encouraging physicians in the state to sign up to be a MAG ‘Doctor of the Day’ volunteer for one or more days during this year’s legislative session, which is expected to run through the middle of April.
MAG Doctor of the Day volunteers provide free minor medical care for legislators and their staff in the Medical Aid Station at the State Capitol. 
As a MAG 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. Volunteers do not lobby 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 Liz Bullock at ebullock@mag.org. You can also simply call Bullock at 678.303.9271.
Go to www.mag.org/advocacy/take-action/dod for additional information on the MAG ‘Doctor of the Day’ program, including logistical details and FAQ. 
Thanking this week’s ‘Doctor of the Day’ volunteers
The Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) thanks and applauds its ‘Doctor of the Day’ volunteers for the week of January 9, which includes…
Peter F. Burns, M.D.
Indran B. Indrakrishnan, M.D.
Robert S. Kaufmann, M.D.
Steven M. Walsh, M.D.
Click here or contact Liz Bullock at ebullock@mag.org or 678.303.9271 if you would like to serve as a MAG Doctor of the Day volunteer.
Save June 23-25 for MAG’s ‘Legislative Education Seminar’
MAG is encouraging member physicians to save June 23-25 for its 2017 ‘Legislative Education Seminar’ meeting, which will take place at Brasstown Valley Resort in Young Harris. 
More than 50 physicians and 25 state leaders attended the event in 2016. 
Monitor www.mag.org for additional details, and contact Derek Norton at dnorton@mag.org or 678.303.9280 with any questions.
Lawmakers honor MAG Foundation campaign co-chair 
On January 12, lawmakers in both chambers of Georgia’s General Assembly honored MAG Foundation's ‘Think About It’ campaign Community Co-Chair Dallas Gay with resolutions for his “acts of public service” to reduce prescription drug abuse in the state. 
The Senate resolution says that, “Dallas Gay has served with honor and distinction, and his vision and unyielding commitment to making the State of Georgia a model on the fight and treatment of prescription drugs and their many negative effects have set the standard for public service.” 
The ‘Think About It’ campaign has… 
– Funded 20 prescription drug disposal boxes, which allows Georgians to dispose of their unneeded or expired prescription drugs in safe and anonymous and secure manner.  
– Distributed more than one million educational leaflets at pharmacies, hospitals and medical practices in the state. 
– Given presentations at more than 50 town halls and 20 physician education events. 
– Established social media and/or other educational campaigns on 10 college campuses as part of its ‘Higher Education TAKE-BACK Initiative.’
Gay has also been instrumental in the development of ‘Project DAN’ (Deaths Avoided by Naloxone), which has funded more than 1,900 doses of naloxone for first responders in 15 counties in northeast Georgia. Naloxone counteracts the effects of a drug overdose. The project has already been credited with saving 21 lives. 
Gay’s grandson, Jeffrey Gay, died of an alcohol and prescription drug overdose in 2012.  
Contact Lori Cassity Murphy at 678.303.9282 or lmurphy@mag.org or click here to support the MAG Foundation with a tax-deductible donation. 
Follow MAG at the Capitol 24/7
Whether you're 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 www.twitter.com/MAG1849 and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MAG1849, or by visiting www.mag.org/resources/GR.
MAG’s Government Relations team
Derek Norton, Director – dnorton@mag.org or 404.274.4210  
Bethany Sherrer, Government Relations Associate and GAMPAC Manager – bsherrer@mag.org or 404.354.1863
Liz Bullock, Administrative Assistant – ebullock@mag.org or 678.303.9271
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