Gov. Kemp signs Medicaid waiver bill into law  
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp enacted a bill (S.B. 106) by Sen. Blake Tillery (R-Valdosta) that will authorize the Georgia Department of Community Health to submit a Section 1115 waiver to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to expand the number of Georgians who are insured by Georgia’s Medicaid program. This measure will also enable the governor to submit a Section 1332 waiver to the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to get permission to “pursue innovative strategies for providing their residents with access to high quality, affordable health insurance.”
“MAG thanks and applauds Governor Kemp for his vision and leadership and enacting this crucial legislation,” says MAG Government Relations Director Derek Norton. “This is fully aligned with policy that was established by MAG’s House of Delegates.” 
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.”
House & Senate pass key health care bills
The Georgia House and Senate passed key bills that will now go to Gov. Brian Kemp, including…
– H.B. 481, a measure by Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Marietta) that would outlaw abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected unless the pregnancy is the result of rape (with a police report) or incest, the abortion is necessary to avert death or serious bodily harm to the mother, it is necessary to preserve the life of an unborn child, or the pregnancy is deemed medically futile. This measure would also allow a woman who seeks an abortion to potentially sue the physician who performs the abortion. MAG is opposed to this legislation because it would result in the criminal prosecution of physicians who perform medical procedures that are within their scope of practice, it would create a new avenue for lawsuits against physicians, and it could undermine efforts to recruit and retain OB-GYN in Georgia
H.B. 186, a measure by Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) that includes several certificate of need (CON) provisions that would 1) limit the “rival” health care entities that can oppose a CON application to those that are within a 35-mile radius of a proposed project and 2) create a pathway for Cancer Treatment Centers of America to add more beds and serve more patients in Georgia and 3) increase the financial thresholds for hospital construction and medical equipment.   
– H.B. 187, a measure by Rep. Katie Dempsey (R-Rome) that would create a State Health Benefit Plan pilot program to treat and manage obesity. MAG supports this bill. 
– S.B. 115, a measure by Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) that would establish a Georgia telemedicine license for physicians in other statesMAG supports this bill. 
S.B. 118, another measure by by Sen. Unterman that would require health insurers to provide coverage for health care services that are provided through telehealth or telemedicine as directed by the Georgia Department of Insurance. MAG supports this bill. 
 H.B. 321, a bill by Rep. Jodi Lott (R-Evans) that originally contained language that would have extended the sunset on the hospital provider fee, which is an important tool for funding indigent care in the state. This bill now includes financial disclosure requirements for non-profit hospitals
 H.B. 26, a bill by Rep. Dave Belton (R-Buckhead) that would “facilitate telehealth and temporary in-person, face-to-face [care] across jurisdictional boundaries.” MAG was neutral on this bill. 
The House and Senate passed a resolution (H.R. 589) by Rep. Mark Newton (R-Augusta) that will result in the formation of a House Study Committee on Maternal Mortality.’ MAG supported this measure. 
Legislators also passed a resolution (H.R. 590) by Rep. Karen Bennett (D-Stone Mountain) that will result in the formation of a ‘House Study Committee on Georgia's Barriers to Access to Adequate Health Care to look at Pediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS) and Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcal infection (PANDAS).’ 
And the House decided to form a work group to study health care reimbursement. MAG will take an active role in this effort. 
Other important bills still in play in House & Senate
The Senate passed a bill (H.B. 63) by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta) that would establish exceptions to health insurers’ step therapy protocols. MAG supports this measure – keeping in mind that the House must agree to the Senate's changes before it can be sent to Gov. Kemp. 
The Senate passed a bill (H.B 540) by Rep. Trey Rhodes (R-Greensboro) that was amended to include the “surprise health insurance coverage gap” provisions of a measure (S.B. 56) that was introduced 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 – a blended rate that encompasses the average of the 80th percentile of charges and the 95th percentile of allowed amounts from an independent, non-profit database. MAG supports these provisions, which are among its priorities for this year’s legislative session. The House must now agree to the changes.
The Senate passed a bill (H.B. 233) by Rep. David Knight (R-Griffin) that would prohibit pharmacy benefit managers (PBM) and insurers from steering patients to the pharmacies they own and from sharing patient information with affiliated entities for commercial purposes. MAG is watching this legislation. The House must now agree to the changes.
The Senate also passed a bill (H.B. 39) by Rep. Dave Belton (R-Buckhead) that would make it easier for physical therapists from other states who participate in the Physical Therapy Licensure Compact to get a license to practice in Georgia. MAG is neutral on this bill. The House must agree to the Senate’s changes before this bill can be sent to the governor’s desk.
The House Insurance Committee passed a bill (S.B. 142) by Sen. Larry Walker (R-Perry) that would require insurers to note that an insured person is fully-insured on their health insurance identification card. MAG supports this legislation, which is waiting to be called up for a vote in the House.
The House Insurance Committee also passed a bill (S.B. 195) by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) that addresses travel insurance but that was stripped of its original provisions – which would have streamlined the prior authorization process for prescription drugs. MAG will continue to look for ways to streamline the prior authorization process during the 2020 legislative session. 
The House HHS Committee also passed a measure, H.R. 448 by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta), that would create a House Study Committee on the Safe Staffing of Nurses in Georgia – something that MAG is assessing. The measure is in the House Rules Committee.
Low THC oil bill headed to conference committee
H.B. 324 by Rep. Micah Gravely (R-Douglasville) is headed to a conference committee – as the House and Senate were unable to agree on language. This bill would allow for the cultivation, distribution, and purchase of low THC oil in Georgia. During its meeting in January, MAG’s Board of Directors adopted a policy that states that, “MAG should support any actions that will lead to the production of safe and quality-controlled cannabinoid extracts within the scope of current Georgia law that can be produced within Georgia for patients who are on the state ‘medical marijuana registry.’”
Lawmakers introduce midwives & surgical assistants’ licensure legislation  
Sen. Lester Jackson (D-Savannah) introduced a bill (S.B. 267) that would create a license for certified community midwives who would be “authorized to deliver care during essentially normal pregnancy, labor, delivery, postpartum, and newborn periods – including administering oxytocin, performing episiotomies, and administering other medications for the care of both mother and baby.” MAG is opposing this bill, which cannot be considered until next year’s legislative session.
Meanwhile, Rep. Matt Dollar (R-Marietta) introduced two bills (H.B. 666 and H.B. 700) that would create a license for surgical assistants. MAG will review this legislation, which will also not be eligible until 2020. 
MAG ‘Doctor of the Day’ & nurse credited with saving life   
Larry Anderson, D.O., the physician who served as the Medical Association of Georgia’s (MAG) ‘Doctor of the Day’ at the State Capitol and Ruby Butts, R.N., one of the nurses who works at MAG’s Medical Aid Station at the State Capitol, have been credited with saving a patient’s life on Thursday, March 28.
“They saved a Senate support staff member’s life,” reports MAG Government Relations Director Derek Norton. “The patient collapsed, and Dr. Anderson and Ms. Butts responded and rendered the appropriate care.”
Norton reports that the patient was transported by ambulance to Grady Hospital, which discovered that he was having a heart attack “with a 90 percent blockage in one of the arteries in his heart.”  
The patient received a stent and is expected to be okay. 
Norton concludes that, “This demonstrates that the MAG Doctor of the Day program and the MAG Medical Aid Station play an essential role, we could not be prouder, and we applaud Dr. Anderson and Ms. Butts for taking the decisive action they did.”  
MAG Doctor of the Day volunteers work in the Medical Aid Station, 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.
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 March 25, which include…
Charles Howell, M.D.
Srinand Mandyam, M.D.
Larry Anderson, D.O.
George Pursley, 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.
Don’t forget to get early bird discount for MAG’s legislative seminar
The Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) is reminding members to register and 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.
The seminar costs $100 per person, which includes a breakfast, a lunch, and two dinners.
Click here to register for the seminar and to select your meal choice for the plated dinner that will take place on Friday, May 31 – keeping in mind that the dinner on Saturday, June 1 will be a buffet.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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