This week’s highlights include “surprise bills” measure 
Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) introduced a measure that would address out-out-network bills. S.B. 359 would 1) result in greater transparency for elective procedures and 2) establish a patient/physician arbitration process for “unexpected events” that take place during elective medical procedures and 3) establish a standard physician payment model for out-of-network emergency care – the 80th percentile of the independent/neutral ‘FAIR Health’ database. MAG Government Relations Director Derek Norton says, “MAG is going to be a leading advocate for this legislation because it is the kind of fair and comprehensive solution we need to put an end to surprise bills.” S.B. 359 is one of MAG’s legislative priorities for 2018. It has not yet been assigned to a committee. 
Rep. Caroline Hugley (D-Columbus) introduced H.B. 715, a bill that would require health care facilities that detect dense breast tissue on a mammogram to notify the patient about their increased risk of cancer. MAG is monitoring this legislation, which has been assigned to the House Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee. 
Rep. Paulette Rakestraw (R-Hiram) introduced H.B. 716, which would create a pre-arrest diversion program for individuals who have certain drug violations who request to be referred to a treatment program. MAG is watching this legislation, which has been assigned to the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. 
Rep. Rakestraw also introduced H.R. 913, which would establish a ‘House Study Committee on Incorporating Law Enforcement in the Pathway to Treatment and Social Services for Persons Having Challenges with Drug Use and Mental Health.’ MAG is tracking this measure, which has been assigned to the House Public Safety and Homeland Security (PSHS) Committee. 
Rep. Clay Cox (R-Lilburn) introduced H.B. 737, a measure to allow law enforcement officers to request an arrestee who “significantly exposes them to source material” be tested for HIV, the hepatitis B virus, or hepatitis C. If this bill passes, the court would also have the latitude to compel arrestees to be tested if they refuse. MAG is watching this legislation, which has been assigned to the House PSHS Committee. 
Sen. Curt Thompson (D-Tucker) introduced three bills – S.B. 344, S.B. 346 and S.R. 614 – that would legalize the recreational use and retail sale of marijuana. MAG is opposing all three measures, which have been assigned to the Senate HHS Committee.
Sen. Ben Watson, M.D. (R-Savannah) introduced S.R. 620 – a measure to commend physicians in the state and recognizing January 31 as ‘Physicians’ Day at the Capitol.’  
S.B. 327 by Sen. John Albers (R-Alpharetta) passed the Senate. This bill would eliminate a requirement for medical examiners and coroners to perform an inquiry of death when the person is unattended by a physician and dies of what appears to be natural causes – keeping in mind that the medical examiner or coroner would still have the discretion to perform the inquiry if they believe it is warranted. The bill will now move to the House. 
Sen. Unterman introduces trio of health care bills 
Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) introduced three health care bills that are in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee she chairs.  
Sen. Unterman introduced S.B. 334, which would move the Georgia Board of Nursing from the Office of the Secretary of State to the Georgia Department of Community Health. MAG is tracking this bill. 
She also introduced S.B. 351, a measure that would expand the scope of practice for APRNs in counties that have less than 50,000 residents to prescribe, dispense, and administer controlled substances and over the counter medications and to order CT scans. MAG is opposing this legislation. 
And Sen. Unterman introduced S.B. 352, which would…
Make it illegal for the “solicitation, acceptance of payment, or offer to pay a commission, benefit, bonus, rebate, kickback or bribe – directly or indirectly and on a cash or in kind basis – or to engage in any split-fee arrangement to induce the referral of a patient or for the acceptance or acknowledgment of treatment of a patient to another provider or health care facility for the purposes of obtaining mental health or substance abuse treatment. It would also be illegal t o aid, abet, advise, or otherwise participate in the conduct prohibited by this law. 
–  Create a director of Substance Abuse, Addiction, and Related Disorders who would report to the governor and lead a new Commission on Substance Abuse and Recovery.  
Prohibit physicians from billing a patient or insurer for excessive, high-tech (i.e., “where billing for drug tests is not limited and tests are ordered for a number of different substances whereby the health benefit plan is billed separately for each substance tested”) or fraudulent drug testing in the treatment of the elderly, the disabled, or any individual affected by pain, substance abuse, addiction, or any related disorder. This would include, but not be limited to, upcoding that results in billing for more expensive services or procedures than were actually provided or performed, unbundling of such billing whereby drug tests from a single blood sample that detect a variety of narcotics is separated into multiple tests and billed separately, or billing an individual for multiple co-pay amounts or for services that are covered by such individual's health benefit plan.
MAG is evaluating S.B. 352. It is also worth noting that Sen. Unterman is scheduled to address this legislation during a press conference that will take place next Monday, January 29.
Georgia lawmakers honor MAG president with resolution
On January 24, the Georgia Senate passed S.R. 600 to honor MAG President Frank McDonald, M.D., M.B.A. The resolution was introduced by Sens. Butch Miller, Renee Unterman, John Wilkinson, Frank Ginn and Steve Gooch. Dr. McDonald was introduced in both the House and the Senate. From the left are Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Dr. McDonald, and Sen. Miller.

MAG reminding members to register for next week’s ‘PhysiciansDay at Capitol’ 
The Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) is reminding its members to register for the 2018 Georgia ‘Physicians' Day at the Capitol,’ which will take place at the State Capitol in Atlanta from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. next Wednesday, January 31. 
“This is going to be a great experience, and it is an effective way for physicians across specialties and practice settings to have meaningful, face-to-face conversations with the state lawmakers who will be considering important health care legislation that will affect our patients and our profession during this year’s legislative session,” says MAG President Frank McDonald, M.D., M.B.A.      
A continental breakfast will be available in Room 230 at the Capitol beginning at 8 a.m. The formal program will get underway with a briefing at 8:30 a.m. Physicians will then meet with legislators. A group photo with Gov. Nathan Deal is scheduled to take place in the Capitol rotunda at 10 a.m. And physicians and legislators will enjoy lunch in the Floyd Room on the 20th floor of the Sloppy Floyd Building as soon as the General Assembly adjourns. 
In addition to MAG, the event is being sponsored by Resurgens Orthopaedics, the Georgia Society of Ophthalmology, the Georgia Society of the American College of Surgeons, the Georgia Psychiatric Physicians Association, the American College of Cardiology, The Georgia Orthopaedic Society, the Hall County Medical Society, the Georgia Society of Ambulatory Surgery Centers, and the Georgia Society of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery. 
Contact Bethany Sherrer at or 404.354.1863 with questions. 
Make a difference as MAG’s ‘Doctor of the Day’
The Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) is encouraging its members to serve as a MAG ‘Doctor of the Day’ program volunteer during this year’s legislative session, which is expected to run through the end of March.  
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. 
As MAG’s Doctor of the Day, you will…
– Be introduced in the House and Senate chambers by your state representative and senator
– Have your photo taken with the Gov. Nathan Deal (contingent on his availability)
– Have a reserved parking place
– Be assisted by a nurse
– Be protected by the state’s ‘Good Samaritan Law’
The MAG Doctor of the Day program is a non-political service. Physicians do not serve as lobbyists when they serve as a MAG Doctor of the Day volunteer.
If you are interested in serving as a MAG Doctor of the Day volunteer, click here for a form that you can print, complete and submit to Christiana Craddock at You can also simply call Craddock at 678.303.9271.
Go to for additional information on the MAG ‘Doctor of the Day’ program, including logistical details and FAQ.  
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 January 22, which include…
Rana Munna, M.D.
Gulshan Harjee, M.D.
Frank McDonald, M.D., M.B.A.
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.
Early bird discount available for MAG’s annual legislative seminar
The Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) is encouraging its members to reserve a room for MAG's 2018 ‘Legislative Education Seminar,’ 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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