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
Don't forget to register for ‘Physicians’ Day at Capitol’ – 19 days and counting
The Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) is reminding its members to register for the 2019 Georgia ‘Physicians' Day at the Capitol,’ which will take place at the State Capitol in Atlanta from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, February 20. 
“In addition to getting the chance to offer our perspectives on what’s best for our patients and our profession, Physicians Day at the Capitol is a fun and interesting experience,” says MAG President Rutledge Forney, M.D. “I can’t think of a better or more efficient way to build meaningful relationships with the state lawmakers who will consider important, consequential health care legislation in 2019 and beyond.”    
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. Brian Kemp 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 – which is across the street from the Capitol – as soon as the General Assembly adjourns. 
In addition to MAG, the event is being sponsored by the Georgia Psychiatric Physicians Association, the Georgia Society of Ophthalmology, the Georgia Medical Directors Association, the Georgia Society of Anethesiologists, 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.
Contact Christiana Craddock at ccraddock@mag.org or 678.303.9271 with questions. 
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 28, which include…
Carl Czuboka, M.D.
LaJune Oliver, 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”)

– 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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