In other noteworthy developments…
The Senate Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee passed…
– H.B. 307 by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta), a bill that would codify the "Georgia Telehealth Act" to mimic the current public health emergency executive orders. This includes 1) authorizing health care providers to provide telemedicine services from home and 2) authorizing patients to receive telemedicine services from their home, workplace or school and 3) allowing for audio-only care under certain circumstances and 4) prohibiting insurers from requiring patients to have an in-person consultation before they receive telemedicine services and 5) prohibiting more stringent utilization review requirements. MAG supports this legislation, which has been sent to the Senate Rules Committee.
– H.B. 567 by Rep. Cooper, a bill that would create the Newborn Screening and Genetics Advisory Committee to 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 also on its way to the Senate Rules Committee.
The Senate Insurance and Labor Health and Workers’ Compensation Subcommittee passed a bill (H.B. 454) by Rep. Mark Newton, M.D. (R-Augusta) that would require insurers who advertise a provider as a participating provider in their provider directory when a person selects his or her health benefit plan to cover the provider charges at in-network rates for 180 days after the contract has ended for that covered person, regardless of whether the provider continues to participate in the insurer’s network. Under this measure, a covered patient would not have to pay more than they would if the services been delivered by an in-network provider, although this would not apply when 1) the provider is removed from the network due to suspension, expiration, or revocation of their license or if they unilaterally opt out of the insurer’s network for reasons other than default or breach of contract or 2) the insurer terminates the contract for cause for fraud, misrepresentation, or other actions constituting a termination for cause under such provider's contract or 3) an insurer notes that a provider will not out-of-network a specific date in its provider directory if the directory is posted on its website 15 days before the patient’s open enrollment date. MAG supports this legislation, which will now go to the full Senate Insurance and Labor Committee.
The House HHS passed…
– S.B. 164 by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome), a bill that would modernize Georgia’s 1980s-era HIV laws by 1) aligning services and policies with best public health practices and 2) making certain high-risk conduct by individuals who have HIV unlawful. It would also reconcile some statutory conflicts with the “needle exchange” law that passed in 2019. MAG is watching this measure, which is headed to the House Rules Committee.
– S.B. 256 by Sen. Dean Burke, M.D. (R-Bainbridge), a bill that would give the Georgia Commissioner of Public Health the sole authority to hire district public health directors in the state. MAG is tracking this legislation, which is also being sent to the House Rules Committee.
The House “recommitted” (i.e., an additional opportunity for a committee to debate and amend a measure) a bill by Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, M.D. (R-Marietta) that is designed to streamline the prior authorization process to the House Insurance Committee. S.B. 80 would 1) establish timelines for insurers to respond to prior authorization requests and 2) establish requirements for the insurer representatives that physicians or dentists discuss a procedure’s medical necessity with prior to or during the appeals process and 3) require prior authorization approvals to remain in effect for 45 days. MAG Government Relations Director Derek Norton explains that, “We will continue to work with Senator Kirkpatrick to ensure that the final legislation improves the prior authorization process in meaningful ways.”
The House Insurance Committee passed a bill (S.B. 82) by Sen. Michelle Au, M.D. (D-Duluth) that would prohibit insurers from denying coverage for emergency care based solely on the final diagnosis. MAG supports this measure, which is moving into the House Rules Committee.
The 2021 state legislative session is scheduled to end on March 31.