Keeping Current @ the Capitol: Week of March 12, 2018

Author: HMHB Staff

Here’s the latest at the Capitol:


HB 184 – Georgia Pregnant Workers Fairness Act
(Park Cannon, D-Atlanta) This bill would have provided reasonable accommodations to job applicants and employees for circumstances related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related conditions. It also would have provided for a civil cause of action for unfair employment practices. While this bill did not make crossover, it did have a hearing in the House Industry and Labor Committee last week. We expect a similar bill to be introduced next session.


Maternal Mortality
Citing consistently dismal rates in maternal mortality and considering recommendations from the Georgia OB/Gyn Society, House and Senate leaders have converged on addressing maternal mortality in conjunction with the Department of Public Health. Senate Heath leaders, led by Senator Renee Unterman (R-Buford), have signaled that they intend to direct appropriations towards research-based practices to address maternal mortality. UPDATE: We are happy to report that the House HHS budget included the full $2 million appropriations request for the Maternal Mortality Review Committee. That budget must now be reviewed and approved by the Senate HHS, specifically the appropriations sub-committee for Human Development and Public Health. We are grateful to Representative Terry England, Appropriations Chairman, for prioritizing this critical need for Georgia.

HB 769 – Micro Hospitals, Rural Recommendations
(Rick Jasperse, R-Jasper): A comprehensive bill to implement the recommendations of the rural hospital coalition committee. This includes the rural hospital tax credit, streamlining and creating efficiencies, establishing micro hospitals, establishing physicians incentives for rural practice, creating a powerful innovation council, and redefines “rural county” from 35,000 or less residents to 50,000 or less. This bill passed the House 173 to 1 and is now assigned to the Senate HHS Committee. UPDATE:This bill passed the Senate HHS committee and has merged with SB 357. One of the two bills will emerge in amended fashion.

HB 909 – Creation of DPH Perinatal Facilitates
(Deborah Silcox R-Sandy Springs) This bill would allow the Department of Public Health to define and designate Perinatal Facilities in Georgia. Perinatal facility means a hospital, clinic, or birthing center that provides maternal or neonatal healthcare services. The bill is meant to encourage the improvement of quality of care to create better maternal and neonatal outcomes. HMHB strongly supports this legislation. UPDATE: HB 909 passed the House 168-1 and has passed the Senate HHS committee and Rules Committee and will be on the Senate floor Wednesday March 14th. HMHB was happy to provide testimony and support of this bill last week on the Senate side.

HB 827 – Increase Value of Rural Hospital Tax Credit to 100%
(Trey Kelley, R-Cedartown) This bill would allow for the full amount of a donation to rural hospitals in Georgia to be considered tax-deductible. The maximum would be $10,000 for jointly filing married couples and corporations and $5,000 for individuals. HB 827 passed the House 168 to 1 and had been assigned to the Senate Finance Committee. UPDATE: This bill is included in HB 769, so it is unlikely to move as a standalone (though the tax credit will likely pass as a part of a broader package).

SB 357 – Health Coordination & Innovation Council
(Dean Burke, R-Bainbridge) This bill would create the Health Coordination and Innovation Council and establish the Health System Innovation Center, with the goal of figuring out how to ensure that more rural Georgians have access to quality health care. SB 357 Passed the Senate with only one no vote. SB 357 has been assigned to the House HHS Committee. UPDATE: See HB 769 Update

HB 669 – Medicaid Expansion
(Bob Trammell, D-Luthersville) The Minority House Leader introduced a bill that would require Georgia to authorize state dollars to draw down additional federal dollars to expand Medicaid. When asked how the State would fund their portion of the expansion costs, estimated to be between $120-200 million, Rep. Sam Park (D-Lawrenceville) suggested a 50-cent tobacco increase. DID NOT MAKE CROSSOVER, but the House has agreed to have a hearing, though the bill would not be actionable this year.

SB 334 Georgia Board of Nursing
(Renee Unterman, R-Buford) SB 334 would transfer the Georgia Board of Nursing from the Secretary of State’s office to the Department of Community Health. UPDATE: SB 334 passed the Senate and is now assigned to the House HHS Committee. NO UPDATE.

SB 351 – Independent Practice Authority for APRNs
(Renee Unterman, R-Buford) This bill would make any advanced practice registered nurse eligible to engage as a licensed independent practitioner if they are primarily employed in a rural county. This would include the ability for APRNs to order computed tomography (CT) scans and to prescribe, procure, administer, dispense, and furnish pharmacological agents, including controlled substances. UPDATE: A significantly diminished version of SB 351 passed the Senate HHS committee and awaits a Rules Committee hearing to be scheduled for a Senate Floor vote. NO UPDATE.

SB 352 – Commission on Substance Abuse & Recovery
(Renee Unterman, R-Buford) This bill would establish the Commission on Substance Abuse and Recovery and would create a director of Substance Abuse, Addiction, and Related Disorders. This bill is expected to receive its first hearing (and pass) in the coming week. UPDATE: SB 352 passed the Senate unanimously and has been assigned to House HHS Committee. NO UPDATE.

Group Prenatal Care
Group Prenatal Care (also referred to as ‘Centering Pregnancy’) is an evidence-based, patient-centered model of group prenatal care. It works to bring patients out of the exam room and into a group setting, helping to build their community of support. This model has gained traction in Georgia and is poised to receive additional funding and support during the 2018 legislative session. HMHB supports funding additional group prenatal care sites in Georgia and supports efforts led by the March of Dimes to make these access points available across the State. NO UPDATE.