Nearly 100 physicians attend 2019 ‘Day at Capitol’
Nearly 100 physicians attended the 2019 ‘Physicians’ Day at the Capitol,’ which took place at the State Capitol in Atlanta on Wednesday – while more than 40 legislators joined them for a luncheon that took place in conjunction with the event.
“In addition to MAG’s fellow sponsors, I would like thank and applaud the physicians and lawmakers who participated in Physicians’ Day at the Capitol – an event that just seems to get bigger and better every year,” says Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) President Rutledge Forney, M.D. “Physicians who care for patients in a wide array of specialties and practice settings got a chance to offer their perspectives on the state’s most pressing heath care issues, including the surprise health insurance coverage gap, prior authorization, network adequacy, step therapy, the continuity of care, and scope of practice.”
MAG Government Relations Director Derek Norton adds that, “In addition to being fun and interesting, this event has proven to be a really valuable and effective way for physicians to tell their story, to present the solutions that they believe are best for patients in this state, and to build meaningful relationships with our elected officials.”
Along with MAG, the event was sponsored by the Georgia Psychiatric Physicians Association, the Georgia Society of Ophthalmology, the Georgia Medical Directors Association, the Georgia Society of Anesthesiologists, the Georgia Society of Interventional Pain Physicians, the Georgia College of Emergency Physicians, the Georgia Radiological Society, the Medical Association of Atlanta, the Hall County Medical Society, the Georgia Orthopaedic Society, the Georgia Society of Dermatology and Dermatological Surgery, the Georgia Chapter of the American College of Cardiology, Physicians for Fair Coverage, Resurgens Orthopaedics, the Georgia Society of Ambulatory Surgery Centers, and the MAG Medical Reserve Corps.
It is also worth noting that residents from Gwinnett Medical Center attended the event.
Looking forward, Norton is encouraging MAG members to attend MAG’s 2019 ‘Legislative Education Seminar’ – which will take place at the Brasstown Valley Resort in Young Harris on May 31-June 2. 
Contact Norton at dnorton@mag.org or 678.303.9280 with questions related to MAG’s efforts in the state legislative arena.  
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. 
House passes bill to extend SHBP bariatric pilot program
The House passed a bill (H.B. 160) by Rep. Katie Dempsey (R-Rome) that would extend the bariatric surgery pilot program for State Health Benefit Plan enrollees until 2024. MAG supports this legislation.
House Insurance Committee delays vote on H.B. 84
The House Insurance Committee delayed a vote on a bill (H.B. 84) by Rep. Richard Smith (R-Columbus) that would 1) 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 and 2) subject hospitals and insurers to greater transparency requirements and 3) 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 and other physician and patient advocacy organizations continue to oppose H.B. 84 because it’s not a comprehensive solution for “surprise medical bills” (i.e., it is limited to transparency and elective procedures, physician pay would be based on the median network rate paid by a health plan or the rate of the health plan in its standard formula for out-of-network reimbursement or Medicare fee-for-service reimbursement, and it does not address emergency settings).
Senate committees pass bills on Medicaid, mammograms, surprise bills & telemedicine
The Senate Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee passed a bill (S.B. 106) by Sen. Blake Tillery (R-Vidalia) that would authorize the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH) to submit a Section 1115 waiver to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to expand the number of Georgians who are insured by Georgia’s Medicaid program. This bill would also enable Gov. Brian Kemp to submit a Section 1332 waiver to the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to get permission to “pursue innovative strategies for providing their residents with access to high quality, affordable health insurance.” MAG policy calls for MAG to support 1) “a Medicaid waiver to close the coverage gap in Georgia in a fiscally responsible and sustainable way that meets the needs of patients and physicians which includes, but is not limited to, the following: a) that patients receive proven, cost effective care that is not impeded by unnecessary barriers to enrollment or unaffordable cost-sharing and b) that such a waiver eliminate regulatory barriers to providing proven, cost effective care, and seek parity for all physician services with the Medicare fee schedule and 2) a waiver from HHS to allow Georgia to use the Medicaid expansion funds to buy private insurance in the state health insurance exchange for eligible Georgia citizens at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level.” This legislation is in the Senate Rules Committee. 
The Senate HHS also passed a bill (H.B. 62) by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta) that would require health care facilities to notify a patient whenever dense breast tissue is detected in a mammogram. This measure includes specific language that would have to be included in the notification. MAG is watching this legislation, which will move into the Senate Rules Committee.
The Senate Insurance Committee passed a bill (S.B. 56) by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) that would 1) result in greater transparency for elective procedures and 2) establish a patient/physician mediation process for bills that are related to “unexpected events” that take place during elective medical procedures and 3) establish a standard physician payment model for out-of-network emergency care – a blended rate that encompasses the average of the 80th percentile of charges and the 95th percentile of allowed amounts from an independent, nonprofit database. MAG supports this legislation, which would put an end to surprise medical bills. This bill is now in the Senate Rules Committee. 
And the Senate Science and Technology Committee passed two telemedicine bills that were introduced by Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford). One (S.B. 115) would establish a Georgia telemedicine license for physicians in other states. The other (S.B. 118) would amend portions of the ‘Georgia Telemedicine Act’ – including prohibiting insurers from requiring their customers to use telemedicine and providing pay equity for health care providers using telemedicine. MAG is reviewing these bills, which will now move into the Senate Rules Committee. 
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 18, which include…
Mike Busche, M.D.
Xavier Duralde, M.D.
James Tallman, M.D.
Steven Kane, 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 www.mag.org/dod for additional information on the MAG ‘Doctor of the Day’ program, including logistical details and FAQ.
Don’t forget to get early bird discount for MAG’s legislative seminar 
The Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) is reminding members to reserve a room for MAG's 2019 ‘Legislative Education Seminar’ meeting, which will take place at the Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa in Young Harris on May 31-June 2. 
Call 800.201.3205 and mention the “MAG Legislative Education Seminar” or click here to receive a discounted room rate of $199 per night plus taxes and fees. The discount will be available until May 10 or until MAG’s block of rooms sells out.
Contact Patrice Williams at patrice@associationstrategygroup.us with questions related to lodging. 
Monitor MAG’s communications and www.mag.org for additional details, and contact Derek Norton at dnorton@mag.org or 678.303.9280 with any questions related to the seminar.  
MAG’s 2019 state legislative priorities 

Health Insurance

– Developing a solution for the “surprise health insurance coverage gap”

– Streamlining and improving the prior authorization process

– Promoting more and better coverage options for pain therapy

– Ensuring patients have access to every “in-network” physician for the duration of their contract year

– Requiring insurers to be transparent about their networks, standards of participation, and process for selecting/de-selecting physicians

– Allowing patients to make health care decisions based on the best treatment options, their medical history, and the advice they receive from their physicians vs. an insurers' step therapy protocols

– Continuing to oppose insurers' retrospective ER claims review policies

Rural Health Care

– Recruiting and retaining an adequate physician work force

– Improving the accessibility of health care in rural areas

Patient Safety

– Working with allied stakeholders (e.g., MagMutual) on key patient safety initiatives, including cancer screening and treatment for substance abuse (e.g., detoxification units and “Casey’s Law”)
Medicaid

– 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 dnorton@mag.org or 678.303.9280 with questions related to MAG’s legislative priorities for 2019.
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 www.twitter.com/MAG1849, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MAG1849, or by visiting www.mag.org/governmentrelations
MAG’s Government Relations Team 
Derek Norton – Director
dnorton@mag.org or 404.274.4210  
Bethany Sherrer – Legal Counsel & GAMPAC Manager
bsherrer@mag.org or 404.354.1863  
Christiana Craddock – Legislative Assistant
ccraddock@mag.org or 678.303.9271
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