Lawmakers introduce out-of-network, Medicaid bills during session’s first week
Georgia’s legislative session got underway on Monday, January 8, and 2018 is the second year of the biennium, which means that any bills that did not pass in 2017 are still in play – including two key ones (H.B. 71 and S.B. 8) that are related to out-of-network billing.
Rep. Richard Smith (R-Columbus) introduced H.B. 678 to address out-of-network billing. This bill would require physicians to provide patients with certain information before an elective procedure is performed, including their status with the health insurers’ 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. The measure would also subject hospitals and insurers to greater transparency requirements. Note, too, that H.B. 678 would require that initial bills be sent to the patient within 90 days – while the Georgia Department of Insurance would establish a patient arbitration process to resolve billing disputes.
Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) Government Relations Director Derek Norton explains that, “MAG supports greater transparency, but we also believe that a more comprehensive out-of-network billing solution is a better option – one that is not overly-burdensome for physicians, and one that addresses the payment mechanism for out-of-network emergency care and unanticipated care during an elective procedure.”
H.B. 678 has not yet been assigned to a committee.
Rep. Clay Cox (R-Lilburn) introduced a bill (H.B. 675) that would provide employers with an income tax credit for up to three years for each Medicaid-eligible employee they have who participates in the employer’s health insurance plan. MAG is reviewing this legislation, which has not yet been assigned to a committee.
Rep. Bob Trammel (D-Luthersville) introduced H.B. 669 – which would enable the state to appropriate the funds that are needed to expand its Medicaid program. This bill has been assigned to the House Appropriations Committee.
Sen. Michael “Doc” Rhett (D-Marietta) introduced S.B. 300, a bill that would request a Medicaid waiver from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to establish a “premium assistance” program to enable eligible individuals to obtain health care coverage through a federal health insurance exchange. S.B. 300 has been assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee.
One of MAG’s priorities for the 2018 legislative session is exploring a waiver option to access federal funds to expand the state’s Medicaid program.
Sen. Rhett also introduced S.B. 318, a bill that allows for the execution of a physician's certificate for emergency examination of a person for involuntary evaluation and treatment for mental illness or alcohol or drug abuse based on consultation with an emergency medical technician or paramedic. MAG is monitoring this legislation, which has been assigned to the Senate HHS Committee.
Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, M.D. (R-Marietta) introduced S.B. 325 to include Georgia in the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, which would make it easier for physicians to obtain licenses in other participating states. MAG supports this legislation, which has not yet been assigned to a committee.