Pace begins to pick up at Georgia General Assembly
The following is a summary of some of the key health care bills that were introduced in the Georgia General Assembly this week…
Rep. Trey Kelley (R-Cedartown) introduced a measure (H.B. 112) that would extend the COVID-19 liability protections that were enacted in the state in 2020 by one year (i.e., until July 14, 2022). MAG supports this legislation, which is one of MAG’s priorities for this year’s legislative session. The bill has been referred to the House Special Committee on Access to the Civil Justice System.
Sen. Gloria Butler (D-Stone Mountain) introduced a bill (S.B. 19) that would require surgical smoke evacuation systems in operating rooms in ambulatory surgery centers and hospitals. MAG is evaluating this legislation, which has been assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee.
Sen. Matt Brass (R-Newnan) introduced a measure (S.B. 43) that would eliminate the need for an in-person examination to write a valid contact lens prescription and allow Georgians to use online vision testing services that are outside of their optometrist’s office. MAG is neutral on this legislation, which has been assigned to the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee.
Sen. Dean Burke, M.D. (R-Bainbridge) introduced a bill (S.B. 46) that would allow pharmacists to administer all Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended adult vaccines under a protocol with a physician. Pharmacists would be required to check the Georgia Immunization Registry (GRITS) for the patient’s immunization status before they administer these vaccines, and they would have to notify the patient’s primary care physician and record the vaccination in the GRITS system. MAG Government Relations Director Derek Norton notes that, “This bill also cleans up other language in the vaccine protocol law as it relates to public health emergencies.” MAG supports this legislation, which is consistent with MAG policy (HOD Resolution 304C.20). The bill has been assigned to the Senate HHS Committee.
Rep. Shelly Hutchinson (D-Snellville) introduced legislation (H.B. 49) requiring insurers to treat claims concerning mental and substance use disorders the same way they do other health insurance claims. MAG supports this legislation, which has been assigned to the House Insurance Committee.
Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta) introduced a bill (H.B. 93) that would 1) eliminate duplicative state licensure and regulatory requirements for clinical laboratories and 2) repeal some statutory provisions that are related to the examination of human specimens and methods for selecting blood donors and collection, storage, and the processing of human blood and 3) eliminate state inspections of clinical laboratories. MAG is reviewing this legislation, which has been assigned to the House HHS Committee.
Rep. Cooper also introduced H.B. 163, which would direct the Georgia Department of Community Health to submit a state plan amendment to implement an “express lane” enrollment feature for Medicaid and direct the Georgia Department of Human Services to automatically enroll and renew eligible children in Medicaid based on application data it receives for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. MAG supports this legislation, which has also been assigned to the House HHS Committee.
Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) introduced a bill (H.B. 99) that would allow patients who have certain qualifying conditions (e.g., Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis) and who obtain the requisite documentation to have access to restrooms that are not generally available to the public (i.e., employee-only). MAG is reviewing this legislation, which was assigned to the House HHS Committee.
Rep. Mike Wilensky (D-Dunwoody) introduced a bill (H.B. 115) that would prohibit insurers from using information derived from genetic testing for any nontherapeutic purpose in the absence of a diagnosis of a condition related to such information. MAG supports this legislation, which was sent to the House Insurance Committee.
Rep. Wilensky also introduced a measure (H.B. 117) that would add ulcerative colitis to the list of conditions that qualify for a Georgia ‘Low THC Oil Registry’ card. The MAG Institute for Excellence in Medicine’s Cannabis Task Force is reviewing this measure, which was referred to the House Regulated Industries Committee.
Rep. Rick Williams (R-Milledgeville) introduced a bill (H.B. 135) that would require a physician who is in charge of a “patient's care for the illness or condition which resulted in death to complete, sign, and return the medical certification as to the cause and circumstances of death to the funeral director or person acting as such prior to or simultaneously with such funeral director or other person assuming custody of the dead body.” MAG is opposing this legislation, which was assigned to the House HHS Committee.
Finally, Rep. Demetrius Douglas (D-Stockbridge) introduced a bill (H.B. 164) that would require health insurers to provide their enrollees with no less than 80 percent of the prescription drug rebates that are related to the enrollee’s prescriptions that the insurer receives from third parties. MAG supports this legislation, which has been assigned to the House Special Committee on Access to Quality Health Care.