Georgia House & Senate pass key health care bills  
The Georgia Senate passed three key health care bills that MAG supports this week, including…
S.B. 80, a bill by Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, M.D. (R-Marietta) that would improve the prior authorization process by 1) requiring insurers and PBMs to be more transparent about the prior authorization process and requiring them to notify physicians and health care providers when they change their prior authorization process or requirements and 2) requiring prior authorization determinations and appeals decisions to be made by a physician who is in the same specialty and 3) requiring insurers to respond to prior authorization requests within seven calendar days for non-urgent care and within 72 hours for urgent care and 4) preventing insurers and PBMs from revoking, denying, or changing a prior authorization approval for 45 days unless the prior authorization is for a Schedule II controlled substance, and requiring payment when a prior authorization is granted and 5) keeping prior authorization approvals for chronic/long-term care in place for six months. Failure to comply with the deadlines in this legislation would result in automatic authorization. This bill has been assigned to the House Insurance Committee.
S.B. 82, a bill by Sen. Michelle Au, M.D. (D-Duluth) that would prohibit insurers from denying coverage for emergency care based solely on the final diagnosis. This measure is also headed to the House Insurance Committee.
S.B. 92, a bill by Sen. Randy Robertson (R-Cataula) that would prohibit the sale to and by minors of drug products containing dextromethorphan. This bill has not been assigned to a committee in the House so far.
Meanwhile, the Georgia House of Representatives passed…
H.B. 539, a bill by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta) that would 1) define an institution as “a hospital licensed by the Department of Community Health, a board approved medical school, a teaching hospital in this state, or a clinic in this state that services predominantly Medicaid, indigent, and underserved populations” for the purposes of institutional licenses for physicians and 2) allow physicians who have an institutional license who work at an institution that is a clinic that services predominantly Medicaid, indigent, and underserved populations to receive a DEA number. MAG is keeping tabs on this legislation, which was sent to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. 
– H.B. 369, a bill by Rep. Alan Powell (R-Hartwell) that would 1) allow APRNs and PAs to prescribe Schedule II drugs under a protocol agreement or job description for five days in emergency situations (they would have to notify the supervising physicians as soon as possible and at least within 72 hours and they would have to complete one hour of continuing education every two years in the “appropriate ordering and use of Schedule II controlled substances”) and 2) have job descriptions for PAs deemed approved if a primary supervising physician submits a job description for a new PA and the job description is identical to a job description previously submitted by the primary supervising physician for another PA and was approved by the board if it does not respond within 10 days and 3) allow APRNs and PAs acting under a protocol agreement or job description to sign the affidavit for parking permits for persons with disabilities. MAG opposes this legislation, which has not yet been assigned to a committee in the Senate.
– H.B. 591, a bill by Rep. Don Hogan (R-St. Simons Island), that would authorize marriage and family therapists to perform emergency examinations of persons for involuntary evaluation and treatment for mental illness or alcohol or drug abuse. MAG is watching this legislation, which is moving to the House Rules Committee.
H.B. 450, a bill by Rep. Mark Newton, M.D. (R-Augusta) that would authorize the Georgia Department of Public Health to release deidentified data from the state’s Low THC Oil Patient Registry to government entities and other entities for research and other purposes. MAG is also tracking this legislation, which is waiting on a Senate committee assignment.
In other noteworthy developments… 
The Senate Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee passed a bill (S.B. 256) by Sen. Dean Burke, M.D., that would give the Georgia Commissioner of Public Health the sole authority to hire district public health directors in the state. Language allowing regional public health directors to have an M.P.H. degree – as opposed to being a physician – was removed from this legislation. MAG will continue to watch this legislation, which is headed to the Senate Rules Committee.  
The Senate Judiciary Committee did not pass two bills by Sen. Bill Cowsert (R-Athens). S.B. 189, which failed in a 4-5 vote, would have required that all trials be bifurcated (i.e., separate trials for liability and damages), while S.B. 190 would have eliminated phantom damages in med-mal trials. (Phantom damages is the difference between what a patient is billed and pays for their care, which can translate into much higher awards.) MAG support both bills, which are likely dead in these forms for this year’s session. 
The House HHS passed four bills this week, including…
H.B. 567 by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta), which would create the Newborn Screening and Genetics Advisory Committee to review and make recommendations to the Georgia Department of Public Health when a new disorder is added to the federal Recommended Uniform Screening Panel. MAG is monitoring this legislation, which is headed to the House Rules Committee. 
H.B. 653 by Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper), which would allow pharmacists to administer and interpret the results of COVID-19 antigen and serology tests for a one-year period after the conclusion of the federal public health emergency. Before it was amended, this bill would have allowed pharmacists to administer and interpret these test results with no end date. MAG is monitoring this legislation, which has been sent to the House Rules Committee. 
H.R. 188 by Rep. Kim Schofield (D-Atlanta), which would support the creation of the State Workgroup to Increase Chronic Disease Information and Screenings in Communities of Color. MAG supports this legislation, which is moving into the House Rules Committee. 
The House Regulated Industries Committee passed a bill (H.B. 645) by Rep. Micah Gravely (R-Douglasville) that would update the accessibility provisions of the state’s medical cannabis law. MAG is reviewing this legislation, which is on its way to the House Rules Committee. 
The House Insurance Committee passed a bill (S.B. 4) by Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, M.D., that would 1) “prohibit kickbacks, commissions, bribes, benefits, rebates, and bonuses by substance abuse care providers or solicited by substance abuse care providers to induce referral of a patient and outlaws fraudulent marketing techniques designed to deceive individuals into expensive long term recovery facilities” and 2) prohibit “high-tech drug testing” (i.e., testing an individual’s specimen for numerous substances and billing and receiving payment separately for each substance that is tested). MAG supports this legislation, which is moving into the House Rules Committee. 
The House Special Committee on Access to Quality Health Care passed a bill (H.B. 164) by Rep. Demetrius Douglas (D-Stockbridge) that would require health insurers to provide their enrollees with no less than 80 percent of the prescription drug rebates that are related to the enrollee’s prescriptions that the insurer receives from third parties when the patient pays 100 percent of the premium. MAG supports this legislation, which will go to the House Rules Committee as a next step. 
Rural birthing centers, GCMB background check bills unveiled in Senate
Two noteworthy health care bills were introduced in the Senate this week, including…
S.B. 270 by Sen. Gail Davenport (D-Jonesboro), a measure that would create a pilot program to fund rural birthing centers associated with hospitals with emergency departments. MAG is monitoring this legislation, which has been assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee. 
S.B. 271 by Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, M.D., a bill that would allow the Georgia Composite Medical Board to perform criminal background checks on all licensees. MAG supports this legislation, which was also assigned to the Senate HHS Committee. 
Health care highlights from FY 2022 House budget 
The Georgia House of Representatives passed a FY 2022 budget that includes…
– $7.1 million to increase 18 select primary care and OB-GYN codes to 2020 Medicare levels to “support providers with the cost of treating patients.”
– $500,000 for two federally qualified health center start-up grants for primary care centers in Jeff Davis and Marion counties.
– $5.3 million for the second year of a seven-year plan to fund the Columbus campus of the Mercer University School of Medicine, which “emphasizes rural medicine and will have 240 medical students by FY 2027.”
– $35 million for the Georgia Department of Community Health to “annualize the state match of the Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments for private deemed and non-deemed hospitals that serve a large number of Medicaid and uninsured individuals.”
– $500,000 for the State Health Benefit Plan for a “pilot program for a drug deactivation system that provides a safe disposal of unused prescription and over-the-counter medications.”
– Nearly $900,000 to support “leadership positions in the state’s health agencies by annualizing three positions in the Georgia Department of Public Health (chief medical examiner, deputy commissioner of public health, and chief data officer).”
– $1.5 million for the Georgia Department of Public Health for the “ongoing maintenance and operations of the new vaccine management system funded in the Amended FY 2021 budget.”
The budget will go to the Senate Appropriations Committee as a next step in the process. 
MAG thanks & applauds this week's ‘Doctor of the Day’ volunteers
MAG is thanking and applauding the physicians who served as its ‘Doctor of the Day’ volunteers for the week of March 1, which include…
Michelle Zeanah, M.D.
LaJune Oliver, M.D.
Patrick Hall, M.D.

MAG Doctor of the Day volunteers work in the Medical Aid Station at the state Capitol. They provide free minor medical care to legislators and their staff.
Go to for additional information on the MAG ‘Doctor of the Day’ program, including logistical details and FAQ. 
MAG’s 2021 legislative education seminar canceled
The Medical Association of Georgia’s 2021 Legislative Education Seminar – which was scheduled to take place at the Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa in Young Harris on May 14-16 – has been canceled as a result of ongoing concerns surrounding COVID-19 and the lack of hotel/venue space availability in the second half of the year.
MAG is making plans to hold next year’s event at Brasstown in May.
Contact Derek Norton at with questions.
MAG’s 2021 legislative priorities

COVID-19 Relief

– Providing relief and assistance for Georgia’s physicians and patients during the COVID-19 pandemic
Health Insurance

– Streamlining and improving the prior authorization process

– Promoting insurance coverage of non-narcotic alternative therapies

– Ensuring that patients have access to every physician who is advertised as “in network” for the duration of a contract year to ensure continuity of care

Tax Credits for Uncompensated Care

– Creating tax credits for physicians who provide uncompensated care

Public Health

– Increasing Georgia’s tobacco tax to improve public health


– Continuing to support the process to ensure coverage of the uninsured
Scope of Practice

– Addressing scope of practice issues that undermine patient safety

Tort Reform

– Addressing Georgia’s tort environment, including exploring CANDOR (Communication and Optimal Resolution)
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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