Session picks up pace with introduction of diverse mix of health care measures
During the week of February 18…
Sen. Dean Burke, M.D. (R-Bainbridge) introduced a bill that would change the state’s ‘Certificate of Need’ (CON) program. S.B. 114 would 1) reinstate the state's Health Strategies Council and 2) increase the capital expenditure threshold and 3) add freestanding emergency departments to the definition of a “health care facility” and 4) change the out-of-state requirements for Cancer Treatment Centers of America and 5) exempt rural hospitals from paying the CON application fees and 6) exempt previously-approved equipment from the CON requirement. This legislation has been assigned to the Senate Regulated Industries Committee.
Sen. Burke also introduced the ‘Health Act’ (S.B. 151), which would 1) establish an office of health strategy and coordination and 2) convene a Georgia data access forum. MAG is reviewing this legislation, which has been assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee.
Rep. Rick Williams (R-Milledgeville) introduced a bill (H.B. 330) that would allow physicians and podiatrists to form professional corporations together. This measure would also change Georgia podiatrists’ scope of practice in several key ways, including the inclusion of “ankles” to their scope of practice and allowing them to perform surgery – including foot amputations – in a hospital or ambulatory surgery center on patients who are under anesthesia that is administered by a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) who is under the supervision of a physician or a podiatrist. MAG opposes this legislation, which has been assigned to the House Health and Human Services Committee.
Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta) introduced a measure (H.B. 370) that would allow emergency medical services (EMS) systems that have a full-time medical director to enter into a protocol agreement with up to eight advance practice registered nurses (APRNs) – supervising up to four of them at any one time. These APRNs would be limited to ordering up to a 14-day supply of non-narcotic drugs in an emergency care setting. MAG opposes this legislation, which has also been assigned to the House HHS Committee.
Rep. Lee Hawkins (R-Gainesville) introduced a bill (H.B. 385) that would require insurers to note that an insured person is fully-insured on their health insurance identification card. MAG supports this legislation, which has been assigned to the House HHS Committee. Sen. Larry Walker (R-Perry) has introduced an identical bill (S.B. 142) in the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee.
Rep. Alan Powell (R-Hartwell) introduced a bill (H.B. 409) that would 1) allow APRNs to order radiographic imaging in non-emergency situations and 2) increase the number of APRNs a physician can supervise under a protocol agreement from four to eight. MAG opposes this legislation.
Rep. Kasey Carpenter (R-Dalton) introduced a resolution (H.R. 256) that would let Georgians decide if the state’s Constitution should be amended to authorize the General Assembly to enact a law to limit jury awards in all civil cases. MAG supports this legislation, which has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.
Resolutions that were introduced by Rep. Mark Newton (R-Augusta) and Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) – H.R. 261 and S.R. 202 – would create a joint study committee to look for ways to simplify the physician oversight process for mid-level health care providers, including the number of each type of mid-level provider that a physician can supervise. MAG supports these measures. H.R. 261 has been assigned to House HHS, while S.R. 202 has been assigned to the Senate Rules Committee.
Sen. Larry Walker (R-Perry) introduced a bill (S.B. 121) that would 1) increase how long prescription information remains in the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) data base from two years to five years and 2) authorize the State Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit to access the PDMP data base for enforcement purposes. MAG is reviewing this legislation, which has been assigned to the Senate HHS Committee.
A bill (S.B. 145) that was introduced by Sen. Marty Harbin (R-Tyrone) would require 1) greater transparency in the process insurers use to select and deselect and tier health care providers and 2) insurers to allow patients to continue to see a provider at the in-network rate for the duration of the plan year if the provider was advertised as in-network when the patient enrolled in the plan but was dropped during the plan year and 3) insurers to continue to offer patients the drugs that are advertised on a formulary when the patient enrolls in a plan for the duration of the contract year – and for no more than the price that was advertised when the patient selected the plan. MAG supports this legislation, which has been assigned to the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee.
Sen. Bill Cowsert (R-Athens) introduced a bill (S.B. 155) that would limit actions to recover damages from death or injury to the actual amounts that are paid for health care services or treatment. MAG supports this legislation, which has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) introduced a resolution that would create a Senate study committee on prescribing patterns for anti-depressants and other psychotropic medications. MAG is watching this legislation (S.R. 217), which has been assigned to the Senate HHS Committee.
Finally, the Senate Regulated Industries Committee held a hearing on a bill (S.B. 74) by Sen. Matt Brass (R-Newnan) that would replace the state’s CON requirements (except for long-term care facilities) with a licensure program and that would increase transparency for hospitals and result in bigger tax credits for hospitals in rural areas.