2019 state legislative session expected to pick up pace beginning next week
“The 2019 state legislative session has gotten off to a relatively slow start as a result of this week’s inclement weather scare and the Super Bowl,” says Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) Government Relations Director Derek Norton. “But we expect the pace to pick up considerably next Tuesday, which will be the session’s eighth legislative day.”
This week’s legislative highlights include…
Rep. Richard Smith (R-Columbus) introduced a bill (H.B. 84) that mirrors his 2018 “out-of-network” bill (H.B. 678) 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 are opposing 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). This bill has been assigned to the House Insurance Committee.
Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta) introduced a measure that would create exceptions to the state’s step therapy protocols for the second straight year. MAG supports H.B. 63, which has been assigned to the House Insurance Committee.
Rep. Cooper also introduced a bill (H.B. 62) that would require health care facilities that administer mammograms to notify every patient who has a dense breast issue finding. The bill outlines the specific language that should be used in the notification. MAG will keep a close eye on this legislation, which has been assigned to the House Health and Human Services Committee.
Rep. Dave Belton (R-Buckhead) introduced two “interstate compact” bills. This includes the ‘Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact’ (H.B. 23), which would “facilitate telehealth and temporary in-person, face-to-face [care] across jurisdictional boundaries” and the ‘Physical Therapy Licensure Compact’ (H.B. 39), which would make it easier for physical therapists from another state in the compact to get a license to practice physical therapy in Georgia. MAG is tracking both measures, which have been assigned to the House Interstate Cooperation Committee.
Finally, Rep. David Knight (R-Griffin) released a report that was developed by the House Study Committee on Retrospective Emergency Room Policies that he chaired. The report calls for state legislators to “consider responses to harmful ER policies and the challenges outlined in this report to prevent patients from unfairly carrying the costs of emergency medical services.” Click here to review report.