2019 Georgia legislative session underway  
The 2019 Georgia legislative session got underway on Monday, January 14. In addition to a new governor – Gov. Brian Kemp – and a new lieutenant governor – Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan – this year’s General Assembly includes 40 new legislators.  
In his state-of-the-state address on January 17, Gov. Kemp said that he will seek $1 million to secure a Medicaid waiver. He also vowed to tackle rural health care issues and physician shortages in the state. 
The legislative session is expected to run through the middle of April.    
M.D.’s named to key Senate HHS and ethics leadership positions   
In an especially-important development, physicians will hold the top two leadership positions on the Senate Health and Human Services Committee – including Chair Sen. Ben Watson, M.D. (R-Savannah) and Vice Chair Sen. Dean Burke, M.D. (R-Bainbridge). Meanwhile, another physician – Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, M.D. (R-Marietta) – will head up the Senate Ethics Committee.
Among the key House of Representatives committee assignments that have been announced so far, Rep. Richard Smith (R-Columbus) will chair a new Access to Quality Healthcare Study Committee – while Rep. Jay Powell (R-Camilla) will take over as the chair of the House Rules Committee. 
Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, M.D., re-introduces key health care bills
Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, M.D. (R-Marietta) has resurrected two bills that she originally introduced in 2018 – including 1) the ‘Medical Licensure Compact’ (S.B. 16) and 2) the ‘Direct Primary Care Act’ (S.B. 18). S.B. 16 would clear the way for Georgia to join the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, making it easier for physicians to obtain licenses in other participating states. S.B. 18 would clear the way for physicians to enter into direct primary care agreements with their patients without being subject to health insurance regulations. MAG supports both bills, which have been referred to the Senate HHS Committee. 
CON reform a focal point in both chambers  
MAG Government Relations Director Derek Norton reports that, “Certificate of Need (CON) received a lot of attention at the Capitol in the first week – as lawmakers will consider legislation that would reform the state’s CON laws that is based on the recommendations of the House Rural Development Council and the Senate Study Committee on CON Reform.” Norton also points out that the Georgia Hospital Association and Alliance for Community Hospitals are promoting CON legislation. MAG is keeping a close eye on these developments. Contact Norton at dnorton@mag.org with any questions related to CON legislation.   
MAG reminding members to register for ‘Physicians’ Day at Capitol’ 
The Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) is reminding its members to register for the 2019 Georgia ‘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 20. 
“In addition to getting the chance to offer our perspectives on what’s best for our patients and our profession, Physicians Day at the Capitol is a fun and interesting experience,” says MAG President Rutledge Forney, M.D. “I can’t think of a better or more efficient way to build meaningful relationships with the state lawmakers who will consider important, consequential health care legislation in 2019 and beyond.”    
A continental breakfast will be available in Room 230 at the Capitol beginning at 8 a.m. The formal program will get underway with a briefing at 8:30 a.m. Physicians will then meet with legislators. A group photo with Gov. Brian Kemp is scheduled to take place in the Capitol rotunda at 10 a.m. And physicians and legislators will enjoy lunch in the Floyd Room on the 20th floor of the Sloppy Floyd Building – which is across the street from the Capitol – as soon as the General Assembly adjourns. 
In addition to MAG, the event is being sponsored by the Georgia Psychiatric Physicians Association, the Georgia Society of Ophthalmology, the Georgia Medical Directors Association, the Georgia Society of Anesthesiology, the Georgia Society of Interventional Pain Physicians, the Georgia College of Emergency Physicians, the Georgia Radiological Society, the Medical Association of Atlanta, the Hall County Medical Society, the Georgia Orthopaedic Society, the Georgia Society of Dermatology and Dermatological Surgery, the Georgia Chapter of the American College of Cardiology, Physicians for Fair Coverage, Resurgens Orthopaedics, the Georgia Society of Ambulatory Surgery Centers, and the MAG Medical Reserve Corps.
Contact Christiana Craddock at ccraddock@mag.org or 678.303.9271 with questions. 
MAG’s 2019 state legislative priorities
The Medical Association of Georgia’s (MAG) priorities for the 2019 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 coverage options for pain therapy
– Ensuring patients have access to every “in-network” physician for the duration of their contract year
– Requiring insurers to be transparent about their networks, standards of participation, and process for selecting/de-selecting physicians
– Allowing patients to make health care decisions based on the best treatment options, their medical history, and the advice they receive from their physicians vs. an insurers' step therapy protocols
– Continuing to oppose insurers' retrospective ER claims review policies
Rural Health Care
– Recruiting and retaining an adequate physician work force
– Improving the accessibility of health care in rural areas
Patient Safety
– Working with allied stakeholders (e.g., MagMutual) on key patient safety initiatives, including cancer screening and treatment for substance abuse (e.g., detoxification units and “Casey’s Law”) Medicaid
– 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 2019.
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 14, which include…
Robert S. Kauffman, M.D.
Rutledge Forney, M.D.
Kristie Petree, D.O.
Priscilla Thomas, 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 reminding members to reserve a room for MAG's 2019 ‘Legislative Education Seminar’ meeting, which will take place at the Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa in Young Harris on May 31-June 2.
Call 800.201.3205 and mention the “MAG Legislative Education Seminar” or click here 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 Patrice Williams at patrice@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 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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