This week’s legislative highlights
Rep. Rick Golick (R-Smyrna) introduced H.B. 213, a bill that would make the sale, manufacture, delivery or possession of more than four grams of fentanyl a “felony offense of trafficking in illegal drugs.” MAG is watching this legislation, which is in the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
Rep. Bruce Broadrick (R-Dalton) introduced H.B. 231, a measure that would reclassify non-prescription fentanyl as a Schedule I drug. MAG is assessing the bill, which has been assigned to the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) introduced H.B. 249, which is designed to address the state’s opioid abuse epidemic. This omnibus bill would require prescription drug dispensers to update the PDMP every 24 hours, as opposed to the current requirement of every seven days, a provision that MAG supports.
H.B. 249 would also establish a way for non-licensed practice staff to become authorized delegates to access the PDMP. Each prescriber would be able to have up to two such delegates under this legislation. This could include licensed physician assistants, advanced practice registered nurses, or registered nurses who submit to a one-time registration process. It could also include unlicensed practice staff who submit to an annual registration process. Under H.B. 249, the delegating prescriber or dispenser could be held civilly liable and criminally responsible for “the misuse of prescription information obtained by his/her delegates.” MAG supports this provision, too.
MAG also supports an H.B. 249 provision that would codify the executive order that Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal issued in 2016 that made naloxone – which counteracts the effects of prescription drug overdoses – available on an over-the-counter basis. (Sen. Butch Miller has introduced a similar measure, the ‘Jeffrey Dallas Gay Jr. Act’ (S.B. 121), which is in the Senate HHS Committee).
One H.B. 249 provision that MAG is opposing would require prescribers to check the PDMP every time they prescribe a Schedule II drug beginning on January 1, 2018. The prescriber would also have to document the information in the patient’s medical record. Prescriptions of three days or 26 pills or less would be exempt, as would prescriptions for patients in certain “settings” (e.g., hospice care). The penalties associated with this provision would be administered by state regulatory boards, and it would not include any civil liability.
It is also worth noting that H.B. 249 would require the state to track the number of individuals who die from apparent drug overdoses.
H.B. 249 has been assigned to the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
Sen. Hunter Hill (R-Atlanta) introduced S.B. 123, which would change destination cancer hospitals regulations by 1) eliminating the “bed cap” and 2) eliminating the cap on the number of in-state patients they can treat and 3) subjecting these facilities to the same certificate of need (CON) process as other comparably-sized hospitals in the state. MAG will monitor this legislation, which is in the Senate HHS Committee.
Sen. Rick Jeffares (R-McDonough) introduced S.B. 125, a measure that would allow physician assistants to write hydrocodone prescriptions of up to five days if that prescriptive authority is included in their job description. MAG is analyzing this legislation, which is in the Senate HHS Committee.
Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) introduced S.B. 138, the ‘Patient Compensation Act,’ which would replace the state’s medical malpractice litigation system with a patient compensation system and a patient compensation board. MAG is opposing this legislation because it would increase the number of claims that are filed, it would increase costs for physicians and other health care providers, and it would repeal the remaining provisions of the tort reform bill (S.B. 3) that passed in Georgia in 2005. The bill is in the Senate HHS Committee.
The Senate HHS Committee passed a bill (S.B. 47) by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-41) that would allow a visiting sports team’s physicians to provide care in Georgia without the need to be licensed in Georgia. The committee amended the bill to allow visiting athletic trainers to practice in the state without a Georgia license as well. MAG supports this measure, which is now eligible for a vote by the full Senate.
MAG supports a bill (S.B. 102) that was introduced by Sen. Butch Miller (R-Gainesville) that was passed by the Senate HHS Committee that would create a three-tier rating system for cardiac care centers. This measure is also now eligible for a vote by the full Senate.
Finally, the House passed a bill (S.B. 70) by Rep. Butch Miller (R-Gainesville) that extends the hospital provider fee – also known as the “bed tax” – until June 30, 2020. MAG did not take a position on this bill, which Gov. Nathan Deal is expected to sign into law.