House passes key health care bills 
The Georgia House of Representatives passed four noteworthy health care bills this week, including…
H.B. 161 by Rep. Betty Price, M.D. (R-Roswell), a measure that would allow an employee or agent of a registered syringe services program to sell, lend, rent, lease, give, exchange or otherwise distribute a syringe or needle. MAG supports this bill.
H.B. 769 by Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper), an omnibus bill that would 1) “relax certain restrictions on remote order entries for hospital pharmacies” and 2) require the Georgia Department of Community Health to streamline the billing and credentialing process for new physicians and 3) establish a rural center for health care innovation and sustainability under the umbrella of the existing Office of Rural Health to provide leadership training and health data analysis for rural hospitals and allow for the easier creation of micro-hospitals (i.e., those with two to seven beds that provide stabilization services 24/7) and 4) create a grant program to provide insurance premium assistance for physicians practicing in medically underserved areas. MAG is tracking this legislation.
H.B. 782 by Rep. Trey Rhodes (R-Greensboro), a bill that would 1) eliminate a requirement for non-licensed user delegates to register with Georgia’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) on an annual basis and 2) allow the Georgia Department of Public Health to share data from the Georgia PDMP with other states. MAG supports this measure.
H.B. 646 by Rep. Katie Dempsey (R-Rome), a measure that would extend a pilot program to offer bariatric surgery through the State Health Benefit Plan. MAG supports this legislation. 
H.B. 847 by Joyce Chandler (R-Grayson), a bill to have Georgia join the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact – which “facilitates telehealth and temporary in-person, face-to-face [care] across jurisdictional boundaries.” MAG is neutral.
These bills will now move into the Senate.
Senate HHS passes bills on APRNs, Compact, out-of-network billing & more   
The Georgia Senate Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee passed a number of important health care bills this week.
This included a bill (S.B. 351) by Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) that would 1) increase the number of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) a physician can oversee with a protocol agreement at one time from four to eight and 2) allow physicians to delegate the ordering of radiographic images to APRNs. This measure was originally designed to allow APRNs to practice in rural areas on an independent basis. MAG is opposing S.B. 351. 
The Senate HHS Committee also passed a bill (S.B. 434) by Sen. Unterman that would 1) change the name of the Georgia Board for Physician Workforce to the Georgia Board for Health Care Workforce and 2) add a Georgia Nursing Leadership Coalition representative to the Board. MAG is keeping a close eye on this legislation. 
The Senate HHS Committee passed a bill (S.B. 325) by Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, M.D. (R-Marietta) that would clear the way for Georgia to join the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact – making it easier for physicians to obtain licenses in other participating states. MAG supports this bill.
The Senate HHS Committee passed a bill (S.B. 382) by Sen. P.K. Martin (R-Lawrenceville) that would require the Georgia Department of Public Health to oversee any Georgia Board of Optometry-approved training programs that would allow optometrists to inject pharmaceutical agents. MAG continues to track this bill.
Finally, the Senate HHS passed an out-of-network billing measure (S.B. 359) by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) that 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 stresses that, “MAG continues to be a leading advocate for this priority legislation because it is the kind of fair and comprehensive solution we need to put an end to surprise bills.” 
These bills will now all move into the Senate Rules Committee.
Lawmaker introduces ‘alternative modalities’ bill, a MAG priority
Rep. Karen Mathiak (R-Griffin) introduced a bill (H.B. 943) that would require insurers to cover alternative modalities of treatment for pain patients. This is one of MAG’s priorities for the 2018 legislative session. The bill has been assigned to the House Insurance Committee. 
Lawmakers considering CON legislation 
Rep. Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta) and Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell) introduced legislation (H.B. 974 and S.B. 462) that would exempt integrated surgery centers from the state’s certificate of need (CON) requirements. Integrated surgery centers are defined as “an ambulatory surgical center built and operated in connection with an integrated athletic training and educational facility for youth, amateur, and professional athletes, medical research activities, and physician training and education for sports medicine.” H.B. 974 is in the House Governmental Affairs Committee, while S.B. 462 is in the Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee.
Sen. Matt Brass (R-Newnan) introduced a bill (S.B. 459) that would change the definition of a “destination cancer hospital” to a “hospital facility” for the purpose of the state’s CON requirements. This measure would also require any such hospital to pay $1 million or one percent of adjusted gross revenue – whichever is lower – to the Indigent Care Trust Fund. This bill is in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. 
It is worth noting that MAG's Board of Directors will be studying a number of CON issues, something MAG’s House of Delegates called for when it met in 2017. 
This week’s other legislative highlights
The House Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee passed a bill (H.R. 1194) by Rep. David Knight (R-Griffin) that would create a House study committee on retrospective emergency room policies. MAG supports this legislation. 
The House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee passed a bill (H.B. 673) by Rep. John Carson (R-Marietta) that would make it illegal for drivers to use a cell phone on anything other than a hands-free basis. This legislation is one of MAG’s patient safety priorities for 2018.  
The House Insurance Committee passed a bill (H.B. 818) by Rep. Lee Hawkins (R-Gainesville) that would allow a provider to choose how they will be reimbursed by an insurer. MAG supports this legislation. 
The House Insurance Committee passed a bill (H.B. 519) by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta) that would add four exemptions to the state’s step therapy statute. MAG supports this legislation, which is one of its legislative priorities for 2018.  
The Senate HHS Committee passed a resolution (S.R. 772) by Sen. Bruce Thompson (R-White) that would create a joint study committee on retrospective emergency room policies and surprise billing. This resolution was originally going to be limited to retrospective ER policies, but surprise billing was added as a committee substitute. MAG opposes the addition of the surprise billing provision since the issue has already been studied in depth and in light of the fact that bills addressing the issue have already been introduced in both the House and Senate.  
All bills will move to the House Rules Committee. The resolution will move to the Senate Rules Committee. 
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 February 19, which include… 
Steve Kane, M.D.
Xavier Duralde, M.D.
Brad Bushnell, M.D.
Scott Swayze, 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 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 member physicians to reserve a room for MAG's 2018 ‘Legislative Education Seminar’ meeting, 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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