ABMS issues statement outlining plans to improve MOC
The president and CEO of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) recently sent an email to Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) Executive Director and CEO Donald J. Palmisano Jr. to encourage him to share a statement that outlines ABMS’ plans for improving maintenance of certification (MOC) programs with MAG members. 
In that email, ABMS President and CEO Richard E. Hawkins, M.D., said that, “A key priority for me…[is to] create a certification process that meets the needs of the physicians and patients that we collectively serve…[it is clear that] despite the [MOC] program improvements underway by many member boards, some [physicians] continue to find MOC onerous and of limited value and that [they] are looking for a definitive statement by the member boards of our commitment to transforming the experience of continuing certification.”
Dr. Hawkins added that “as a boards community, we are committed to working closely with [the physician community] to make continuing certification programs more meaningful, relevant, and cost-effective…To this end, we, as a boards community have created [a] statement detailing our intent and commitment to you and your members.”  

ABMS met with a number of state and national medical specialty society leaders during a “summit” that took place in December – including MAG. Palmisano served on one of the summit’s panel discussions, while MAG President Frank McDonald, M.D., M.B.A., also took an active role in the meeting.

Contact Palmisano at dpalmisano@mag.org with questions.

Lawmakers addressing health care in rural areas, PDMP, insurance & more  
Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper) introduced H.B. 769, an omnibus bill that would 1) “relax certain restrictions on remote order entries for hospital pharmacies” and 2) require the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH) to streamline the billing and credentialing process for new physicians and 3) establish a rural center for health care innovation and sustainability under the umbrella of the existing Office of Rural Health to provide leadership training and health data analysis for rural hospitals and allow for the easier creation of micro-hospitals (i.e., those with two to seven beds that provide stabilization services 24/7) and 4) create a grant program to provide insurance premium assistance for physicians practicing in medically underserved areas. MAG is watching this legislation, which has been assigned to the House Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee. 
Rep. Trey Rhodes (R-Greensboro) introduced H.B. 782, a bill that would eliminate a requirement for non-licensed Georgia Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) user delegates to register for the PDMP on an annual basis and allow the Georgia Department of Public Health to share data from the Georgia PDMP with other states. MAG supports this legislation, which has been assigned to the House HHS Committee.
Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) introduced S.B. 364, which would allow primary supervising physicians to have up to eight anesthesiology assistants licensed under them – though they would only be allowed to supervise two of them at a given time. MAG is tracking this legislation, which has been assigned to Senate HHS Committee. 
The House Judiciary Non-Civil Subcommittee heard testimony on H.B. 673, a bill that was introduced by Rep. John Carson (R-Marietta) which would make it illegal for drivers to use a cell phone on anything other than a hands-free basis. In addition to Rep. Carson, the committee heard testimony from the director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, the commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, and a mother whose daughter was killed in a 2015 crash that was attributed to distracted driving. The committee did not vote on the measure, but it did schedule a second hearing for next Monday. This legislation is one of MAG’s patient safety priorities for the 2018 legislative session. 
The House Insurance Life and Health Subcommittee held a hearing on a bill by Rep. Richard Smith that addresses “surprise” out-of-network bills. H.B. 678 would require physicians to provide patients with certain information before elective procedures, including the physician’s status with the patient’s health insurer’s network, the names and other information related to other physicians who will provide services during the procedure, and an estimate of the bill that the patient will receive after the procedure. In addition, the measure would subject hospitals and insurers to greater transparency requirements. H.B. 678 would also require that physicians and hospitals send initial bills to the patient within 90 days – while the Georgia Department of Insurance would establish a patient arbitration process to resolve any billing disputes. MAG testified that it supports Rep. Smith’s calls for greater transparency, but it also stressed that it is part of a coalition of physician advocacy organizations that would prefer a more comprehensive solution for surprise out-of-network bills. The subcommittee passed the legislation, which will now go to the full House Insurance Committee. 
Senate HHS Committee passed two bills this week, including S.B. 357 by Sen. Dean Burke, M.D. (R-Bainbridge) and S.B. 352 by Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford). 
S.B. 357 would create a health coordination and innovation council, action that was recommended by Lt. Gov. Cagle’s Health Reform Task Force. MAG supports this bill. 
Meanwhile, S.B. 352 would…
Make it illegal for the “solicitation, acceptance of payment, or offer to pay a commission, benefit, bonus, rebate, kickback or bribe – directly or indirectly and on a cash or in kind basis – or to engage in any split-fee arrangement to induce the referral of a patient or for the acceptance or acknowledgment of treatment of a patient to another provider or health care facility for the purposes of obtaining mental health or substance abuse treatment. It would also be illegal to aid, abet, advise, or otherwise participate in the conduct prohibited by this law.  
–  Create a director of Substance Abuse, Addiction, and Related Disorders who would report to the governor and lead a new Commission on Substance Abuse and Recovery.   
Prohibit physicians from billing a patient or insurer for excessive, high-tech (i.e., “where billing for drug tests is not limited and tests are ordered for a number of different substances whereby the health benefit plan is billed separately for each substance tested”) or fraudulent drug testing in the treatment of the elderly, the disabled, or any individual affected by pain, substance abuse, addiction, or any related disorder. This would include, but not be limited to, upcoding that results in billing for more expensive services or procedures than were actually provided or performed, unbundling of such billing whereby drug tests from a single blood sample that detect a variety of narcotics is separated into multiple tests and billed separately, or billing an individual for multiple co-pay amounts or for services that are covered by such individual's health benefit plan.
MAG will work with Sen. Unterman on this bill throughout the legislative process. 
In terms of next steps, S.B. 357 and S.B. 352 will go to the Senate Rules Committee.
MAG at center of effort to address Medicaid attestation/funding issue  
The Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) and the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Georgia Association of Family Physicians, and the Georgia Chapter of the American College of Physicians met with Sen. Dean Burke, M.D. (R-Bainbridge) and Rep. Butch Parrish (R-Swainsboro) and the Georgia Department of Community Health to discuss ways to ensure that every primary care physician in the state who cares for Medicaid patients receives the full Medicaid payment rate under the terms of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). 
“Following last year’s session, the General Assembly passed a budget that included an appropriation to fix some Medicaid ‘attestation’ issues for primary care physicians,” says MAG Government Relations Director Derek Norton. “The problem is that a number of physicians don’t qualify for the full Medicaid payment rate because they did not go through the ACA attestation process that ended in 2014 – either because they recently graduated, changed specialties, moved their practice location, or opened a new office or moved to Georgia from another state. 
He adds that, “Our goal is to secure the state funds that are needed to address this gap to ensure there are enough Medicaid physicians to care for Georgia’s most vulnerable patients.”
Norton concludes that, “We will continue to explore every avenue to ensure that the current attestation expansion is implemented and to expand the policy to cover every primary care physician in the state who accepts Medicaid.”  
Nearly 100 physicians attend ‘Day at Capitol’
Nearly 100 physicians attended the ‘Physicians’ Day at the Capitol’ event that took place at the state Capitol in Atlanta on January 31. In addition, more than 40 legislators attended a luncheon that took place in conjunction with the event.
“This was easily the best turnout that I can recall for this event, and it continues to be a great way for physicians across specialties and practice settings to establish personal relationships with state lawmakers,” says Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) President Frank McDonald, M.D., M.B.A. “We addressed some important issues, including the surprise insurance coverage gap, insurance reform, scope of practice, and patient safety.”
MAG Government Relations Director Derek Norton stressed that, “There simply isn’t a better or more effective way to influence the legislative process than to have a lawmaker hear a practicing physician’s first-hand, real-world account about the steps we should be taking to improve patient care and the health care system in Georgia.”
In addition to meeting with their legislators, the physicians had their picture taken with Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal.
It is also worth noting that nine residents from Gwinnett Medical Center attended the event.
In addition to MAG, the event was sponsored by Resurgens Orthopaedics, the Georgia Society of Ophthalmology, the Georgia Society of the American College of Surgeons, the Georgia Psychiatric Physicians Association, the American College of Cardiology, the Georgia Orthopaedic Society, the Hall County Medical Society, the Georgia Society of Ambulatory Surgery Centers, the Georgia Society of Anesthesiologists, and the Georgia Society of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery. 
Make a difference as MAG’s ‘Doctor of the Day’ 
The Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) is encouraging physicians in the state to serve as a MAG ‘Doctor of the Day’ program volunteer during this year’s legislative session, which is expected to run through the end of March.  
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. 
As MAG's Doctor of the Day, you will…
– Be introduced in the House and Senate chambers by your state representative and senator
– Have your photo taken with the Gov. Nathan Deal (contingent on his availability)
– Have a reserved parking place
– Be assisted by a nurse
– Be protected by the state’s ‘Good Samaritan Law’
The MAG Doctor of the Day program is a non-political service. Physicians do not serve as lobbyists when they serve as a MAG Doctor of the Day volunteer.
If you are interested in serving as a MAG Doctor of the Day volunteer, click here for a form that you can print, complete and submit to Christiana Craddock at ccraddock@mag.org. You can also simply call Craddock at 678.303.9273.
Go to www.mag.org/dod 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 January 29, which include… 
Shefali Shah, M.D.
Kelly DeGraffenreid, M.D.
Bruce LeClair, M.D.
Judson Pickett, 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 www.mag.org/dod for additional information on the MAG ‘Doctor of the Day’ program, including logistical details and FAQ. 
Early bird discount available for MAG’s annual legislative seminar
The Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) is encouraging member physicians to reserve a room for MAG's 2018 ‘Legislative Education Seminar’ meeting, which will take place at the Brasstown Valley Resort in Young Harris on June 1-3. 
Call 800.201.3205 and mention the “MAG Legislative Education Seminar” or click here to receive a discounted room rate of $189 per night plus taxes and fees. The discount will be available until May 2 or until MAG’s block of rooms sells out. Contact Anita Amin at anita@associationstrategygroup.us with questions related to lodging. 
Monitor MAG’s communications and www.mag.org for additional details, and contact Derek Norton at dnorton@mag.org or 678.303.9280 with any other questions related to the seminar.  
MAG’s 2018 state legislative priorities 
The Medical Association of Georgia’s (MAG) priorities for the 2018 state legislative session include…
Health Insurance
– Developing a solution for the “surprise health insurance coverage gap.”
– Streamlining and improving the prior authorization process.
– Promoting more and better health insurance coverage options for pain therapy.
– Ensuring that patients have access to every physician insurers advertise as “in-network” for the duration of the contract year to ensure the continuity of care.
– Requiring insurers to be transparent about how they develop their networks, their standards of participation, and the process they use to select and de-select physicians for their networks.
– Allowing patients to make their own health care decisions based on the best treatment options, their medical history, and the advice they receive from their physician rather than an insurer’s step therapy protocols.
Patient Safety
– Working with allied stakeholders (e.g., MagMutual) on key patient safety initiatives, including distracted driving.
– 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 dnorton@mag.org or 678.303.9280 with questions related to MAG’s legislative priorities for 2018. 
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/governmentrelations
MAG’s Government Relations team 
Derek Norton – Director
dnorton@mag.org or 404.274.4210  
Bethany Sherrer – Associate, 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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