Cost comparison, tobacco bills pass Senate committees
The Senate Insurance and Labor Committee passed a bill (S.B. 303) by Sen. Ben Watson, M.D. (R-Savannah) that would require health insurers to make certain patient cost comparison information available on an interactive and publicly accessible website. This would allow patients to 1) see how much in-network physicians are paid by insurers and 2) see the average amount that in-network physicians actually agree to be paid by insurers and 3) get an estimate for how much out-of-pocket money they will owe their physicians/providers and 4) compare quality metrics for the physicians/providers that are in their network in major diagnostic categories, adjusted for risk and severity. MAG is evaluating this bill, which now goes to the Senate Rules Committee. 
The Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee passed a bill (S.B. 298) by Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) that would raise the age to purchase cigarettes, tobacco products, tobacco related objects, alternative nicotine products, consumable vapor products, or tobacco product samples from 18 to 21. It would also make it illegal to distribute tobacco product samples on a public street, sidewalk, or park within 500 feet of a school or playground. It would also require the State Board of Education to set a minimum course of study on vaping and smoking for children in grades K-12. And, it would require anyone who is engaged in the business of manufacturing, importing, brokering, purchasing, selling, consigning, vending, dealing in, shipping, receiving, or distributing alternative nicotine products or consumable vapor products to obtain a license from the Georgia Department of Revenue. MAG supports this legislation, which is headed to the Senate Rules Committee. 
Out-of-network billing legislation introduced in both chambers  
Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) and Rep. Lee Hawkins (R-Gainesville) introduced bills (S.B. 359 and H.B. 888) that would address out-of-network billing. These identical measures would 1) set the price that should be paid for out-of-network emergency care and unanticipated out-of-network non-emergency care at the 2017 median contracted rate, adjusted annually according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), and paid without the need for prior authorization and without any retrospective payment denials and 2) allow a patient to choose out-of-network elective care by consenting in writing and orally at least 48 hours in advance with an estimate of the charges and 3) require an insurer to use the most recent in-network contract rates as the initial payment for a physician/provider when a contract is terminated without cause by the insurer or with cause by a physician/provider within one year of the effective date of the legislation and 4) establish a “baseball-style” arbitration system (i.e., the insurer and physician/provider would each submit a payment amount and the arbitrator would choose one of the numbers and the “loser” would pay the arbitration costs and the bundling or batching of claims would be allowed, with no thresholds). MAG continues to work with lawmakers and other stakeholders to enhance this legislation. S.B. 359 was referred to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, while H.B. 888 was referred to the House Special Committee on Access to Quality Health Care. 
Lawmakers consider other key health insurance measures 
The House Special Committee on Access to Quality Health Care passed a bill (H.B. 784) by Rep. Mark Newton, M.D. (R-Augusta) that would create a rating system to highlight which health insurance plans include both certain medical specialties (i.e., emergency medicine, radiology, anesthesiology, and pathology) and hospitals in the same networks. This measure would also require health insurers to make this information available on their websites and in their printed directories. MAG is evaluating this legislation, which has been sent to the House Rules Committee.
Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, M.D. (R-Marietta) introduced a bill (S.B. 348) that would 1) require insurers to cover physician/provider charges at in-network rates for 90 days after a physician/provider’s departure from a network during an enrollee’s contract year if the provider was advertised as in-network in the insurer’s physician/provider directory when the enrollee selected their plan and 2) set network adequacy standards for insurance networks. MAG supports this bill, which has been assigned to the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee.
And Sen. Dean Burke, M.D. (R-Bainbridge) introduced a bill (S.B. 352) that would require insurers to cover physician/other health care provider charges at in-network rates for the duration of the patient’s contract year if a physician/provider departs the network during the contract year and were advertised as in-network in the insurer’s provider directory when the patient selected their plan. MAG supports this legislation, which was assigned to the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee.
MAG supporting bill addressing diagnostic exams for breast cancer
Sen. Donzella James (D-Atlanta) introduced a bill (S.B. 360) that would require diagnostic examinations for breast cancer to be treated “no less favorably” than screening examinations for breast cancer with respect to cost-sharing requirements and treatment limitations. MAG supports this legislation, which was also assigned to the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee.
MAG supporting measure to raise fines for ‘hands-free’ violations  
The House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee held a hearing on a bill (H.B. 113) by Rep. John Carson (R-Marietta) that would raise the fines for violating the state’s “hands-free” distracted driving statute – which makes it illegal for drivers to use a cell phone on anything other than a hands-free basis. MAG supports this legislation. 
MAG opposing bill to license/regulate certified professional midwives
MAG is opposing a bill (H.B. 910) that was introduced by Rep. Karen Mathiak (R-Griffin) that would provide for the licensure and regulation of certified professional midwives (CPMs). The measure has not yet been assigned to a committee. 
MAG, MagMutual & others continue calls for tort reform
The Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) and MagMutual are part of a diverse, multi-stakeholder coalition that is distributing a one-page ‘Georgia’s legal climate is costing businesses and consumers’ summary that highlights the crucial need for tort reform in the state – keeping in mind that Georgia has the 41st worst legal climate in the state, according to the Institute for Legal Reform.  
MAG Government Relations Director Derek Norton stresses that, “Tort reform is at the top of MAG’s list of legislative priorities, and we are addressing it in an integrated way and on a number of fronts.” 
MAG members can contact Norton at dnorton@mag.org with questions related to MAG’s tort reform efforts. 
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 February 3, which include…
Lateefah Watford, M.D.
Sheryl Gabram, M.D.
Audrey Arona, M.D.
Janet Memark, M.D.
Charles Ruis, M.D.
Renee Haynes, M.D.
Pamela Logan, M.D.
William Grow, M.D.
Stephen Goggans, 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. 
MAG reminding members to register for February 19 ‘Day at Capitol’ 
The Medical Association of Georgia is reminding its members in every specialty and practice setting to register for the 2020 ‘Physicians’ Day at the Capitol,’ which will take place at the State Capitol in Atlanta from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, February 19 – which is in less than two weeks.
Physicians and legislators will be invited to attend a lunch that will be served at a venue that is at or within walking distance of the Capitol as soon as the General Assembly adjourns – and keeping in mind that some 50 state lawmakers have already RSVP’d for this event.
Contact Christiana Craddock at ccraddock@mag.org or 678.303.9271 with questions.
MAG’s 2020 state legislative priorities 
The Medical Association of Georgia’s (MAG) priorities for the 2020 state legislative session include… 
Tort Reform
– Addressing the states declining tort environment
Tax Credits for Uncompensated Care
– Creating tax credits for physicians who provide uncompensated care
Medicaid
– Continuing to support the waiver process to ensure Georgians have access to health insurance
Scope of Practice
– Addressing issues that undermine patient safety
Health Insurance
– Developing a solution for “surprise medical bills”        
– Streamlining and improving the prior authorization process
– Promoting insurance coverage for non-narcotic alternative therapies        
– Ensuring patients have access to every physician who is advertised as “in-network” for the duration of a contract year to ensure the continuity of care and requiring insurers to be transparent about how they develop their networks, their standards of participation, and the process they employ to select/de-select physicians for their networks
Contact MAG Government Relations Director Derek Norton at dnorton@mag.org or 678.303.9280 with questions related to MAG’s legislative priorities for 2020.
MAG encouraging members to register/reserve room for legislative seminar
The Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) is encouraging its members to register and reserve a room for MAG's 2020 ‘Legislative Education Seminar’ meeting, which will take place at the Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa in Young Harris on May 15-17. 
Call 800.201.3205 and mention the “MAG Legislative Education Seminar” to receive a discounted room rate of $199 per night plus taxes and fees. The discount will be available until May 10 or until MAG’s block of rooms sells out. 
Contact Christiana Craddock at ccraddock@mag.org with questions related to lodging or registration.
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 questions related to the seminar.  
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 – 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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