House and Senate pass bills on Compact, mammograms & step therapy 
Georgia lawmakers took action on several key health care issues this week.
The Senate passed a bill (S.B. 16) 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 legislation, which has moved into the House Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee.
The House passed a bill (H.B. 62) by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta) that would require a health care facility to notify a patient whenever it detects dense breast tissue in a mammogram. The measure includes specific language that must be included in that notification. MAG is watching this legislation, which has been assigned to the Senate HHS Committee.
The House passed a bill (H.B. 63) by Rep. Cooper that would establish exceptions to health insurer step therapy protocols. MAG supports this legislation, which is pending a Senate committee assignment.  
The House passed a measure (H.B. 166) by Rep. Deborah Silcox (R-Sandy Springs) that would have genetic counselors licensed by the Georgia Composite Medical Board (GCMB). MAG is tracking this legislation.
And the House passed H.B. 128 – a bill by Rep. Silcox that would exempt “low” payments under high-low agreements in medical malpractice agreements from the requirement to report settlements to GCMB. MAG supports this legislation.
Legislators introduce, take action on key health care bills 
During the week of February 11… 
Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) introduced H.B. 214, a bill that would remove the geographic restrictions on physicians who have vaccine protocol agreements with pharmacists. MAG is reviewing this legislation, which has been assigned to the House Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee.
Sen. Blake Tillery (R-Vidalia) introduced Gov. Brian Kemp’s health care legislation. S.B. 106 would authorize the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH) to submit a Section 1115 waiver to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to expand the number of Georgians who are insured by Georgia’s Medicaid program. The bill would also enable Gov. Kemp to submit a Section 1332 waiver to the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to get permission to “pursue innovative strategies for providing their residents with access to high quality, affordable health insurance.” MAG policy calls for MAG to support 1) “a Medicaid waiver to close the coverage gap in Georgia in a fiscally responsible and sustainable way that meets the needs of patients and physicians which includes, but is not limited to, the following: a) that patients receive proven, cost effective care that is not impeded by unnecessary barriers to enrollment or unaffordable cost-sharing and b) that such a waiver eliminate regulatory barriers to providing proven, cost effective care, and seek parity for all physician services with the Medicare fee schedule and 2) a waiver from HHS to allow Georgia to use the Medicaid expansion funds to buy private insurance in the state health insurance exchange for eligible Georgia citizens at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level.” This legislation has been referred to the Senate HHS Committee.
Sen. Larry Walker (R-Perry) introduced a bill (S.B. 109) that would expand the number of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) that a physician can oversee under a protocol agreement from four to eight – and it would allow physicians to supervise up to four of these APRNs at any one time. This measure would also allow APRNs to order radiographic imaging. MAG opposes this legislation, which has been assigned to the Senate HHS Committee.
The House HHS passed a bill (H.B. 160) by Rep. Katie Dempsey (R-Rome) that would extend the bariatric surgery pilot program for State Health Benefit Plan enrollees until 2024. MAG supports this bill, which is now in the House Rules Committee.
Without hearing any testimony, the House Insurance Life and Health Subcommittee passed H.B. 84 by Rep. Richard Smith (R-Columbus). This bill 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 wouldn’t result in 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 will now go to the full House Insurance Committee.
The Senate Insurance and Labor Committee is scheduled to hear testimony on a bill (S.B. 56) by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) that would 1) result in greater transparency for elective procedures and 2) establish a patient/physician mediation process for bills that are related to “unexpected events” that take place during elective medical procedures and 3) establish a standard physician payment model for out-of-network emergency care. MAG supports this legislation, which would eliminate surprise medical bills. 
The Senate HHS Committee passed the “Direct Primary Care Act” (S.B. 18) by Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick (R-Atlanta), which would clear the way for physicians to enter into direct primary care agreements with their patients without being subject to health insurance regulations. MAG supports this legislation, which has been sent to the Senate Rules Committee.
Finally, a House Special Committee on Access to Quality Health Care held a hearing on H.B. 198 by Rep. Matt Hatchett (R-Dublin) – the House version of a comprehensive overhaul of the state’s certificate of need (CON) program. The Senate Regulated Industries Committee is expected to get the Senate version of the bill sometime next week. 
You can still register for next Wednesday’s ‘Physicians’ Day at Capitol’ 

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. next 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 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 February 11, which include…
Negah Rassouli, M.D.
Meekyung Miki Kim, M.D.
Adetolu Oyewo, M.D.
Rasean Hodge, M.D.
Winifred Lin Soufi, M.D., Ph.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.
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 with questions related to lodging. 
Monitor MAG’s communications and for additional details, and contact Derek Norton at 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 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, on Facebook at, or by visiting
MAG’s Government Relations Team 
Derek Norton – Director or 404.274.4210  
Bethany Sherrer – Legal Counsel & GAMPAC Manager or 404.354.1863  
Christiana Craddock – Legislative Assistant or 678.303.9271
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