MAG has high expectations for 2019 General Assembly
Dear MAG members,
I am genuinely excited to represent you and your patients during the 2019 state legislative session – which will get underway next Monday, January 14. This is my third year as the Medical Association of Georgia’s (MAG) chief lobbyist, but you should have great peace of mind knowing that MAG has been the leading advocate for physicians in the state since 1849.
The legislative process is the single most important way that we can improve Georgia’s practice environment and protect and preserve your autonomy as a physician – as well as your relationship with your patients.
MAG’s Government Relations team has been actively involved in elections across the state and busy meeting with lawmakers and other important stakeholders since the legislative session ended in 2018. I truly believe that we are in a great position to enhance Georgia’s heath care system in 2019.
Based on the direction that we received from MAG’s Council on Legislation, MAG’s Board of Directors, and MAG’s House of Delegates, our legislative priorities for the year will be related to out-of-network billing, health insurance reform, patient safety, improving health care in rural areas, and exploring ways to draw down federal funds to cover uninsured Georgians. We will also continue to take steps to address the state’s prescription drug abuse epidemic by seeking increased funding for the Georgia Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP). And, of course, we will be ready to address any scope of practice battles that come up during this year’s General Assembly.
I encourage you to take a few moments to review the following article, which outlines MAG’s legislative priorities for the year.
MAG has enjoyed some great success in the legislative arena in recent years. For example, in 2017 MAG helped defeat legislation that would have required physicians to participate in every health plan at every hospital where they have privileges. MAG heavily influenced opioid prescribing legislation (H.B. 249), and we successfully removed criminal penalties and significant fines for physicians who fail to check the PDMP. MAG also played a key role in the passage of maintenance of certification legislation, which was one of our priorities for 2017. And MAG was instrumental in securing additional pay for Medicaid primary care and OB-GYN physicians in Georgia in FY 2016, FY 2017 and FY 2018.
In the politically-charged 2018 legislative session – and with elections in the state looming – very little health care legislation made it through both chambers, so our success was largely related to preventing legislation that would have been harmful to physicians and patients, as well as teeing-up key issues and bills for a successful run in the 2019 session.
My expectation is that MAG will continue to succeed in 2019.
I encourage you to read this e-News from the Capitol newsletter, which MAG will distribute on Fridays during the legislative session. I also encourage you to share this newsletter with your colleagues and applicable practice staff.
I cannot overstate the importance of MAG’s political action committee, so I hope that you will join GAMPAC in 2019. I also encourage you to join us at ‘Physician’s Day at the Capitol’ in Atlanta on Wednesday, February 20 – and I hope that you will attend MAG’s ‘Legislative Education Seminar’ at the Brasstown Valley Resort in Young Harris on May 31-June 2 (see the articles below for details).
My thanks go out to MAG’s Council on Legislation and its chair, W. Scott Bohlke, M.D., as well as our legislative allies – including Georgia's county medical societies and state specialty societies – for their ongoing support.
Finally, I would like to thank the individual physicians who support MAG’s advocacy efforts, whether that’s making a phone call, sending an email, attending an event, or meeting with legislators. Our grassroots efforts will continue to be a huge part of our success under the Gold Dome.
Please reach out to me or any member of MAG’s Government Relations team in the event you have comments or questions during this year’s legislative session.
We sincerely value your perspective – and know that we are here to serve you.
Director, Government Relations
Medical Association of Georgia