General Assembly underway, physicians assigned to key committees
The Georgia General Assembly got underway on Monday, January 11.
“The week was largely ceremonial,” reports MAG Government Relations Director Derek Norton. “Legislators were sworn into office and assigned to committees, and Governor Brian Kemp delivered his State of the State address.”
Two MAG members will chair key committees in 2021, including Sen. Dean Burke, M.D. (R-Bainbridge), who will chair the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee, and Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, M.D. (R-Marietta), who will chair the Senate Veterans, Military and Homeland Security Committee. Sen. Ben Watson, M.D. (R-Savannah) retains his position as the chair of the Senate Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee. Sen. Ben Watson, M.D. (R-Savannah) and Sen. Kirkpatrick were named to the Senate Judiciary Committee. And another MAG member – newly elected Sen. Michelle Au, M.D. (D-Sandy Springs) – was named to several committees, including the Senate HHS Committee.
The other MAG member in the state legislature is Rep. Mark Newton, M.D. (R-Augusta), although the House has not released its committee assignments.
Norton says that, “The governor’s address focused on the challenges that Georgia and the United States have faced over the last year, including the COVID-19 pandemic. He thanked health care workers for all that they have done and sacrificed thus far during this pandemic. He also proposed that the legislature expand a tax credit passed in 2020 for Georgia businesses that make PPE to include pharmaceutical and medical equipment manufacturers.”
Sen. Burke introduced S.B. 1, legislation that would expand the list of entities that are required to submit data to the Georgia All Payer Claims Database once it is up and running. MAG will keep a close eye on this bill, which has been assigned to the Senate Finance Committee.
Sen. Kirkpatrick introduced two bills, including S.B. 4 and S.B. 5. S.B. 4 would prohibit kickbacks, commissions, bribes, benefits, rebates, and bonuses by substance abuse providers or solicited by substance abuse providers to induce referral of a patient and outlaws fraudulent marketing techniques designed to deceive individuals into expensive long term recovery facilities. It would also prohibit ‘high-tech drug testing’ (i.e., testing an individual’s specimen for numerous substances and billing and receiving payment separately for each substance that is tested). MAG is neutral on this legislation, which has been assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee. Meanwhile, S.B. 5 would 1) require the Georgia Composite Medical Board to establish rules and regulations for the in-office use of sedation in “MediSpas” and 2) prohibit anyone who doesn’t have a license to practice dentistry to administer conscious sedation in a dental facility or during the practice of dentistry in a MediSpa. MAG supports this legislation, which was also assigned to the Senate HHS Committee.
Rep. Dave Belton (R-Buckhead) introduced H.B. 34, which would create a licensure and telemedicine compact for audiologists and speech language pathologists. This legislation was vetoed by the governor in 2020. MAG will monitor this bill, which has been assigned to the House Regulated Industries Committee.
Rep. Carolyn Hugley (D-Columbus) introduced H.B. 72, which would expand postpartum Medicaid coverage from six months to one year. MAG supports this legislation, which was referred to the House HHS Committee.
Rep. Hugley also introduced H.B. 73, a bill 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 has been referred to the House Insurance Committee.