Key health care bills pass in Georgia House & Senate 
Keeping in mind that Monday, March 8 is ‘Crossover Day’ – the last day a bill can move from one chamber to the other and still have a clear path of being passed into law in 2021 – several key bills passed the Georgia Senate and House this week.
The Senate passed a measure (S.B. 215) by Sen. Larry Walker (R-Perry) that would allow certified medication aides to administer certain medications to nursing home residents. MAG is neutral on this legislation, which is awaiting a committee assignment in the House.
The House passed…
– H.B. 34 by Rep. Dave Belton (R-Buckhead), which would allow Georgia to join the Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Interstate Compacts. MAG is watching this legislation, which has been assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee.
– H.B. 119 by Rep. Karen Mathiak (R-Griffin), which would allow chiropractors to own professional corporations with physicians. MAG is watching this legislation, which has been assigned to the Senate HHS Committee.
– H.B. 234 by Rep. Lee Hawkins (R-Gainesville), which would allow self-funded health care plans – which are exempt from state regulations as a result of federal law – to opt into Georgia’s Surprise Billing Consumer Protection Act (2020’s H.B. 888). MAG supports this legislation, which has been assigned to the Senate HHS Committee.
– H.B. 307 by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta), which would codify the "Georgia Telehealth Act" to mimic the current public health emergency executive orders. This includes 1) authorizing health care providers to provide telemedicine services from home and 2) authorizing patients to receive telemedicine services from their home, workplace, or school and 3) allowing for audio-only care under certain circumstances and 4) prohibiting any requirements for patients to have an in-person consultation before they receive telemedicine services and 5) prohibiting more stringent utilization review requirements. MAG supports this legislation, which is going to the Senate HHS Committee.
– H.B. 395 by Rep. Belton, which would allow Georgia to join the Professional Counselors Licensure Compact. MAG is watching this legislation, which has not yet received a committee assignment in the Senate.
– H.B. 458 by Rep. Cooper, which would 1) require members of the Composite Medical Board (GCMB) to participate in training and education to support greater understanding of sexual misconduct, sexual boundaries, and impacts of trauma and implicit bias within three months of such appointment and 2) amend provisions relating to the authority of the GCMB to refuse license, certificate, or permit or issue discipline, where a licensee has committed a sexual assault on a patient and 3) require continuing education for physicians on professional boundaries and physician sexual misconduct and 4) require GCMB to develop and identify educational resources and materials for physicians, board members, and board staff to support greater understanding of sexual misconduct, sexual boundaries, and impacts of trauma and implicit bias and 5) require each medical school or osteopathic medical school in good standing with the board to include education and training regarding professional boundaries and physician sexual misconduct for its medical students and 6) require physicians, APRNs, and PAs to report a physician to GCMB if they have knowledge that the physician has committed sexual assault on a patient, and anyone who knowingly and willfully fails to do so would be subject to a fine of no less than $1,000 or greater than $5,000 as determined by the provider’s licensing board and could be subject to other disciplinary action at the applicable licensing board's discretion and 7) require GCMB’s annual report to include the number of physicians it investigates for sexual assault and the outcomes of the investigations, including whether the board refused, revoked, or suspended the physicians’ licenses or issued a private or public disciplinary order. MAG is reviewing this legislation, which is pending a Senate committee assignment.
– H.B. 509 by Rep. Houston Gaines (R-Athens), which would require certain insurers to make at least one reasonably priced comprehensive major medical health insurance policy available to residents in the state without limitation or exclusion based on preexisting conditions if the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is repealed or invalidated. MAG supports this legislation, which is also waiting on a Senate committee assignment.
Noteworthy bills remain in play in bother chambers
The Georgia Senate Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee held a hearing on a measure (S.B. 256) by Sen. Dean Burke, M.D. (R-Bainbridge) that would 1) reorganize the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) and 2) change the requirement for district health directors from needing to be a physician to requiring a master’s degree or doctorate degree in public health. Under this bill, the DPH commissioner would select a physician(s) to serve as the chief medical officer(s) to oversee the clinical programs at local health departments. MAG has expressed its concerns about not having physicians lead district health departments. This legislation remains in the Senate HHS Committee.
The Senate Insurance and Labor Committee passed a bill (S.B. 80) by Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, M.D. (R-Marietta) that would improve the prior authorization process by 1) requiring insurers and PBMs to be more transparent about the prior authorization process and requiring them to notify physicians and health care providers when they change their prior authorization process or requirements and 2) requiring prior authorization determinations and appeals decisions to be made by a physician who is in the same specialty and 3) requiring insurers to respond to prior authorization requests within seven calendar days for non-urgent care and within 72 hours for urgent care and 4) preventing insurers and PBMs from revoking, denying, or changing a prior authorization approval for 45 days, unless the prior authorization is for a Schedule II controlled substance, and requiring payment when a prior authorization is granted and 5) keeping prior authorization approvals for chronic/long-term care in place for six months. Failure to comply with the deadlines in this legislation would result in automatic authorization. MAG supports this legislation, which is scheduled for a vote on Monday, March 1.
The House Regulated Industries Special Subcommittee heard two bills by Rep. Allen Powell (R-Hartwell). H.B. 369 would 1) remove the Georgia Composite Medical Board’s ability to require approval of job descriptions and nurse protocol agreements and 2) allow APRNs and PAs acting under protocol agreements or job descriptions to issue prescriptions for a five-day or less supply of Schedule II drugs in emergency situations. This legislation also calls for APRNs and PAs to complete continuing education on the appropriate ordering and use of Schedule II substances. Meanwhile, H.B. 430 includes provisions that are related to APRN licensure and that would allow APRNs and PAs to develop care plans for home health, order part-time or intermittent skilled nursing care, and apply for parking permits by mail for persons with disabilities. MAG is opposing both bills, which remain in this committee.
The Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill (S.B. 92) by Sen. Randy Robertson (R-Cataula) that would prohibit the sale to and by minors of drug products containing dextromethorphan. MAG supports this legislation, which is going to the Senate Rules Committee.
The House Special Committee on Access to Quality Health Care passed a bill (H.B. 454) by Rep. Mark Newton, M.D., that would require insurers who advertise a provider as a participating provider in their provider directory when a prospective covered person selects his or her health benefit plan to cover the provider charges at in-network rates for the duration of the contract year for that covered person, regardless of whether the provider remains a participating provider in the insurer's network plan. The measure would also require insurers to ensure that the covered patient not be responsible for more than he or she would have been responsible had the services been delivered by an in-network provider, although this wouldn’t be applicable when the provider is out-of-network due to suspension, expiration, or revocation of their license or the provider unilaterally terminates their participation in the insurer’s network plan for reasons other than default or breach by the insurer of a contract with the provider for the provision of health care services. MAG supports this legislation, which is moving into the House Rules Committee.
The House Special Committee on Access to Quality Health Care also heard two bills (H.B. 447 and H.B. 448) by Rep. David Knight (R-Griffin) that would require every contract by entities licensed under Title 33 for health care coverage or services under the state health benefit plan or Medicaid or the PeachCare for Kids Program to contain provisions relating to disclosure of cost related data. MAG also supports this legislation, which remains in the House Special Committee on Access to Quality Health Care.
The House HHS Committee passed a bill (H.B. 539) by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta) that would 1) define an institution as “a hospital licensed by the Department of Community Health, a board approved medical school, a teaching hospital in this state, or a clinic in this state that services predominantly Medicaid, indigent, and underserved populations” for the purposes of institutional licenses for physicians and 2) allow physicians with an institutional license who work at an institution that is a clinic that services predominantly Medicaid, indigent, and underserved populations. MAG is reviewing this legislation, which has been sent to the House Rules Committee.
Finally, the House Insurance Life and Health Subcommittee passed a bill (H.B. 73) by Rep. Carolyn Hugley (D-Columbus) that would cap the amount that an insured patient can be required to pay for a covered insulin prescription at $50 per 30-day supply. MAG supports this legislation, which is going to the full House Rules Committee. 
Lawmakers introduce array of new health care bills 
The new health care legislation that was introduced in the Georgia General Assembly this week includes…
H.B. 552 by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta), which would allow a taxpayer to deduct the full amount paid for shares as a member of a health care sharing organization from Georgia taxable income. MAG is watching this legislation, which was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee. 
H.B. 567 by Rep. Cooper, which would create the Newborn Screening and Genetics Advisory Committee to review and make recommendations to the Georgia Department of Public Health when a new disorder is added to the federal Recommended Uniform Screening Panel. MAG is also keeping tabs on this legislation, which was referred to the House HHS Committee.
H.B. 569 by Rep. Matthew Wilson (D-Brookhaven), which would prohibit the practice of conversion therapy by professional counselors, physicians, or psychologists. MAG supports this legislation, which was referred to the House Regulated Industries Committee. 
H.B. 590 by Rep. Don Hogan (R-St. Simons Island), which would provide for a grant program to establish assisted outpatient treatment programs for patients with mental illness who struggle to maintain engagement with essential mental health treatment. MAG is opposing this measure, which will move into the House HHS Committee.
H.B. 591 by Rep. Hogan, which would authorize marriage and family therapists to perform emergency examinations of persons for involuntary evaluation and treatment for mental illness or alcohol or drug abuse. MAG is watching this legislation, which has been assigned to the House HHS Committee.
H.B. 592 by Rep. Wilson, which would further clarify the definition of gross negligence under the COVID-19 liability legislation by stating that “gross negligence includes, but is not limited to, failure to comply with guidance promulgated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the United States Department of Labor regarding workplace COVID-19 prevention programs.” MAG is opposing this bill, which is being sent to the House Special Committee on Access to the Civil Justice System. 
H.B. 601 by Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah), which would 1) clarify that low THC oil, marijuana, and tetrahydrocannabinols do not include certain federally approved products and 2) would remove EPIDIOLEX® as a Schedule V controlled substance. MAG is watching this legislation, which has been assigned to the House Judiciary Non-Civil committee. 
H.B. 605 by Rep. Cooper, which would provide for authorized electronic monitoring in long-term care facilities. MAG is reviewing this legislation, which has gone to the House Human Relations and Aging Committee. 
H.B. 627 by Rep. John LaHood (R-Valdosta), which would 1) require athletic training students to be under the direct supervision of a physician or licensed athletic trainer, eliminates obsolete provisions related to athletic trainers and 2) revises and updates certification requirements. MAG is reviewing this legislation, which has been assigned to the House HHS Committee.
H.B. 629 by Rep. Mark Newton, M.D. (R-Augusta), which would eliminate the in-person examination requirement for contact lens prescriptions except for the initial prescription. MAG is watching this legislation, which was sent to the House HHS Committee. 
H.B. 630 by Rep. James Beverly (R-Macon), which would authorize the state to appropriate money to expand its Medicaid program under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and federal Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. MAG supports this legislation, which has been referred to the House HHS Committee.
H.B. 645 by Rep. Micah Gravely (R-Douglasville), which would update the accessibility provisions of the state’s medical cannabis law. MAG is reviewing this legislation, which has been assigned to the House Regulated Industries Committee. 
MAG’s 2021 legislative education seminar canceled
The Medical Association of Georgia’s 2021 Legislative Education Seminar – which was scheduled to take place at the Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa in Young Harris on May 14-16 – has been canceled as a result of ongoing concerns surrounding COVID-19 and the lack of hotel/venue space availability in the second half of the year.
MAG is making plans to hold next year’s event at Brasstown in May.
Contact Derek Norton at dnorton@mag.org with questions.
MAG thanks & applauds this week's ‘Doctor of the Day’ volunteers
MAG is thanking and applauding the physicians who served as its ‘Doctor of the Day’ volunteers for the week of February 22, which include…
Michael Bakheet, M.D.
Lateefah Watford, M.D.
Reginald Mason, M.D.
Daniel Lopez, M.D.
Anna Skold, M.D.
MAG Doctor of the Day volunteers work in the Medical Aid Station at the state Capitol. They provide free minor medical care to legislators and their staff.
Go to www.mag.org/dod for additional information on the MAG ‘Doctor of the Day’ program, including logistical details and FAQ. 
MAG’s 2021 legislative priorities

COVID-19 Relief

– Providing relief and assistance for Georgia’s physicians and patients during the COVID-19 pandemic
 
Health Insurance

– Streamlining and improving the prior authorization process

– Promoting insurance coverage of non-narcotic alternative therapies

– Ensuring that patients have access to every physician who is advertised as “in network” for the duration of a contract year to ensure continuity of care

Tax Credits for Uncompensated Care

– Creating tax credits for physicians who provide uncompensated care

Public Health

– Increasing Georgia’s tobacco tax to improve public health

Medicaid

– Continuing to support the process to ensure coverage of the uninsured
 
Scope of Practice

– Addressing scope of practice issues that undermine patient safety

Tort Reform

– Addressing Georgia’s tort environment, including exploring CANDOR (Communication and Optimal Resolution)
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 www.twitter.com/MAG1849, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MAG1849, or by visiting www.mag.org/advocacy/government-relations
MAG’s Government Relations Team 
Derek Norton – Director
dnorton@mag.org or 404.274.4210  
Bethany Sherrer – Legal Counsel & GAMPAC Manager
bsherrer@mag.org or 404.354.1863  
Christiana Craddock – Legislative Assistant
ccraddock@mag.org or 678.303.9271
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