MAG calling on members to contact Senate Appropriations Committee to budget enough for full Medicaid PC pay  
The Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) is encouraging its members to contact the members of the Senate Appropriations Committee as soon as possible to urge them to budget enough funds to ensure that every primary care physician in the state who cares for Medicaid patients receives the full Medicaid payment rate under the terms of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). 
“Following last year’s session, the General Assembly passed a budget that included an appropriation to fix some Medicaid ‘attestation’ issues for primary care physicians,” says MAG Government Relations Director Derek Norton. “The problem is that a number of physicians don’t qualify for the full Medicaid payment rate because they did not go through the ACA attestation process that ended in 2014 – either because they recently graduated, changed specialties, moved their practice location, or opened a new office or moved to Georgia from another state. 
He adds that, “Our goal is to secure the state funds that are needed to address this gap to ensure there are enough Medicaid physicians to care for Georgia’s most vulnerable patients.”
Norton concludes that, “We will continue to explore every avenue to ensure that the current attestation expansion is implemented and to expand the policy to cover every primary care physician in the state who accepts Medicaid.”
Key health care bills on the move in both House & Senate   
The Georgia House of Representatives passed a bill by Rep. Richard Smith (R-Columbus) that would require physicians to provide patients with certain information before elective procedures, including the physician’s status with the patient’s health insurer’s network, the names and other information related to other physicians who will provide services during the procedure, and an estimate of the bill that the patient will receive after the procedure. H.B. 678 would also subject hospitals and insurers to greater transparency requirements, and it would require physicians and hospitals to send initial bills to patients within 90 days – while the Georgia Department of Insurance would establish a patient arbitration process to resolve any billing disputes. MAG is advocating greater transparency, but it is part of a coalition of medical specialty societies that would like to see a more comprehensive solution – like S.B. 359 by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome). H.B. 678 will now move to the Senate.
The House Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee passed three key bills this week. The first was H.B. 161 by Rep. Betty Price, M.D. (R-Roswell), a measure that MAG supports that would allow harm reduction organizations – which are focused on “reducing the harm associated with the use of psychoactive drugs in people unable or unwilling to stop” – to sell, lend, rent, lease, give, exchange or otherwise distribute a syringe or needle. The second was H.B. 769 by Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper), an omnibus bill that would 1) “relax certain restrictions on remote order entries for hospital pharmacies” and 2) require the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH) to streamline the billing and credentialing process for new physicians and 3) establish a rural center for health care innovation and sustainability under the umbrella of the existing Office of Rural Health to provide leadership training and health data analysis for rural hospitals and allow for the easier creation of micro-hospitals (i.e., those with two to seven beds that provide stabilization services 24/7) and 4) create a grant program to provide insurance premium assistance for physicians practicing in medically underserved areas. The third was a bill (H.B. 895) by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta) that would prohibit the sale to and by minors of drug products containing dextromethorphan. MAG is keeping a close eye on all three bills, which have moved into the House Rules Committee.  
A subcommittee of the House Insurance Committee heard testimony on two noteworthy bills this week. This included H.B. 519 by Rep. Cooper, a measure that MAG supports that would add four exemptions to the state’s step therapy statute. The subcommittee also heard testimony on another bill by Rep. Cooper – H.B. 799 – that would require hospitals to contact a patient’s health insurer to get its authority before administering any post-stabilization care. Under this measure, if an insurer determines that it wants one of its beneficiaries to be transferred to another facility for post-stabilization care, the insurer would be responsible for making the arrangements for the transfer and bearing the costs. The committee has not voted on either bill.  
A subcommittee of the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee held a second hearing on H.B. 673 – a distracted driving bill that MAG supports that was introduced by Rep. John Carson (R-Marietta). This measure would make it illegal for drivers to use a cell phone on anything other than a hands-free basis. H.B. 673 will have to pass out of this subcommittee before it can advance to the full Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. 
The Senate Health and Human Services Committee heard a bill (S.B. 351) by Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) that would allow nurses that practice in counties that have 50,000 or less people to have full scope of practice authority – including ordering radiographic imaging and prescribing controlled substances. After testimony from both sides, no vote was taken. A second Senate HHS hearing will not be scheduled until Sen. Unterman incorporate changes that have proposed by other committee members.
Finally, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed a bill (S.B. 184) by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) that would fund an ‘Integrated Population Health Data Project’ to collect population health data from various agencies to improve health outcomes in Georgia. MAG is monitoring this legislation, which has moved into the Senate Rules Committee. 
Lawmakers to consider bills to study retrospective claims reviews
Two bills that would establish legislative study committees to evaluate health insurer policies to review claims on a retrospective basis – like the one that Anthem/Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia now has in place for out-of-network ER care – were introduced this week. H.R. 1194 by Rep. David Knight (R-Griffin) would establish a House Study Committee, while S.R. 772 by Sen. Bruce Thompson (R-White) would create a Joint Study Committee. H.R. 1194 has been assigned to the House Health and Human Services Committee, while S.R. 772 has been assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. 
MAG delegation meets with key lawmakers, CMS during AMA conference 

A Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) leadership team discussed a number of important issues in face-to-face meetings with Congressional leaders and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) during the American Medical Association’s National Advocacy Conference that took place in Washington, D.C. on February 12-14. 

The MAG delegation included MAG President Frank McDonald, M.D., M.B.A., MAG President-elect Rutledge Forney, M.D., Georgia AMA Delegation Chair William Clark, M.D., and MAG Executive Director Donald J. Palmisano Jr. 

“We had some really productive conversations that covered a lot of important ground, including opioid abuse and Good Samaritan laws,” Dr. McDonald reports. “We also emphasized how Anthem/Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia’s policy to review claims for out-of-network ER care on a retrospective basis is undermining patient care in such significant ways.” 

The AMA conference agenda included…

– Medicare payments

– The two-year moratorium on new regulatory requirements for medical practices

– The Affordable Care Act (ACA) moratorium on physician-owned hospitals and other key ACA provisions, including pre-existing conditions and essential health benefits 

– MACRA penalties and requirements for small/rural practices

– Individual insurance markets

– State Medicaid options

Contact Palmisano at with any questions related to the AMA conference.  
From the left are Dr. Forney, Dr. Clark, U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, and Dr. McDonald.  
Georgia Senate honors MAG MRC 

The Georgia Senate honored the Medical Association of Georgia Medical Reserve Corps (MAG MRC) by passing a resolution, S.R. 717, by Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, M.D. (R-Marietta) on February 14. 

The measure recognized and commended the MAG MRC for “being prepared to respond to every major disaster that affected Georgia in 2017.” This included hurricanes Irma, Jose and Maria. 

The MAG MRC was formed to respond to declared emergencies in Georgia, including natural disasters (e.g., wildfires, hurricanes, tornados, blizzards, floods) and disease outbreaks. It supplements the official medical and public health and emergency services resources that are available in the state. MAG MRC volunteers include both physicians and non-physicians. 

Go to for additional information or to join the MAG MRC. 

Contact Mark Reitman at or 678.303.9289 with questions related to the MAG MRC. 

A number of dignitaries and MAG members were on hand when the Georgia Senate honored the MAG MRC at the state Capitol in Atlanta on February 14. From the left, this included Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, Sen. Dean Burke, M.D., Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, M.D., MAG MRC Administrator Mark Reitman, MAG MRC Medical Director John Harvey, M.D. (holding resolution), MAG MRC members Nathan Mickinac, Paul Purcell, Gregory Hopkins, M.D., and Mohit Agarwal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, and MAG MRC Director of Operations Paul Hildreth. 
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 February 12, which include… 
Rasean Hodge, M.D.
Cathy Bonk, M.D.
Indran Indrakrishnan, M.D.
David Kriegel, M.D.
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. 
Reserve a room for just $189/night for MAG’s legislative seminar
The Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) is encouraging member physicians to reserve a room for MAG's 2018 ‘Legislative Education Seminar’ meeting, which will take place at the Brasstown Valley Resort in Young Harris on June 1-3. 
Call 800.201.3205 and mention the “MAG Legislative Education Seminar” or click here to receive a discounted room rate of $189 per night plus taxes and fees. The discount will be available until May 2 or until MAG’s block of rooms sells out. Contact Anita Amin 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 other questions related to the seminar.  
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. 
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  
Christiana Craddock – Legislative Assistant or 678.303.9271
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