Keeping Current @ The Capitol: Week of March 25th


Week of March 25, 2019:

With the last day of the General Assembly on April 2, 2019, this is the last full week of the legislative session. Policymakers will be working hard to get their bills through Committees in the opposite chamber and to the chamber floor before next Tuesday. Some bills that have amendments from the opposite chamber will need to come back to the originating chamber for what is called an ‘agree’ before it can receive a final vote.

The Senate has also put in their version of the FY20 State Budget and the Conference Committee has been assigned to finalize the budget this week. The Conference Committee is made up of members from the Appropriations Committee in both chambers.

Georgia State Capitol

Georgia State Capitol

Senate Updates

SB 16 – Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Act
(Kay Kirkpatrick, R-East Cobb) Would authorize the Georgia Composite Medical Board to administer the compact in this state. Passed the Senate and the House.

SB 18 – Direct Primary Care Act
(Kay Kirkpatrick, R-East Cobb) Would ensure that providers who are giving care to patients for an agreed upon fee, and does not bill a third-party for services rendered, must inform the patient that the agreement is not the same as insurance. It also exempts primary care agreements from the same regulation as health insurance. Passed the Senate and the House.

SB 56 – Consumer Coverage & Protection for Out-of Network Medical Care Act
(Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome) Would establish standards for carriers and health care providers with regard to payment under a managed care plan in the provision of emergency medical care and increase transparency for consumers in said plans. Assigned to Insurance.

SB 106 – Patients First Act
(Blake Tillery, R-Vidalia) Would allow the State to submit a 1115 Medicaid Demonstration Waiver to increase Medicaid coverage to those who are at or below 100% of the Federal Poverty Line. The Patients First Act was approved yesterday by the House. It now moves to the Governor’s desk for signature.

SB 115 – Telemedicine Practice
(Renee Unterman, R-Buford) Would allow physicians who are licensed to practice telemedicine in other states to practice telemedicine in Georgia. Assigned to Health & Human Services in the House.

House Updates

HB 12 – Quality Basic Education Act
(Rick Williams, R-Milledgeville) Would require every public school to post a sign containing the toll-free telephone number operated by the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services to receive reports of child abuse or neglect. Assigned to Education & Youth in Senate.

HB 26 –  Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact
(Dave Belton, R-Buckhead) Would allow psychologists licensed in participating states to facilitate telehealth and temporary in-person, face-to-face practice of psychology across jurisdictional boundaries. Substitute version of bill passed Interstate Cooperation Committee. Assigned to Health & Human Services in the Senate.

HB 62 – Margie’s Law
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) Would require that if a patient’s mammogram demonstrates dense breast tissue, the health care facility that conducted the mammogram shall provide notification to the patient. Substitute version of bill passed House Health & Human Services. Passed House & Senate. Moves to Governor’s desk for signature.

HB 63 – Step Therapy Protocols
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) Would require health benefit plans to establish step therapy protocols. Passed the full Senate yesterday – goes to the House for an agree.

HB 158 – HIV/AIDS Program Access for Medicaid Recipients
(Debora Silcox, R-Sandy Springs) Would ensure that Medicaid recipients have the same access to antiretroviral regimens used to treat HIV and AIDS as to those included in the formulary established for the Georgia AIDS Drugs Assistance Programs. Passed Senate yesterday.

HB 187 – Obesity Management Pilot Program
(Katie Dempsey, R-Rome) Would provide for a pilot program at the Department of Community Health to provide coverage for the treatment and management of obesity and related conditions. Assigned to Health & Human Services in Senate.

HB 217 – Needle Exhange Program
(Houston Gaines, R-Athens) Would decriminalize the act of working or volunteering for a syringe services program, a step towards legalizing the programs. Distributing clean hypodermic syringes and needles to people who use injection drugs (e.g. heroin) helps to prevent the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C. Passed full Senate yesterday.

HB 228 – Raise Minimum Age of Marriage
(Andrew Welch, R-McDonough) Would change the minimum age of marriage of a child from 16 to 17 years of age and to require any person who is 17 years of age to have been emancipated, correct a cross-reference cited in child custody proceedings laws, provide for requirements for filing a petition for emancipation for petitioners who desire to enter into a marriage, and repeal conflicting laws related to the issue with the aim of preventing forced or coerced marriages involving children. Passed Senate Judiciary and goes to Senate floor for vote.

HB 233 – Pharmacy Anti-Steering and Transparency Act
(David Knight, R-Griffin) Would address referral practices that may limit or eliminate competitive alternatives in the healthcare services market and that may result in overutilization of health care services. Specifically addresses pharmacies that are an affiliate of the healthcare system where the patient has been prescribed medication to avoid conflicts of interest. Passed Senate Health & Human Services unanimously yesterday.

HB 287 – Preceptor Tax Credit
(Matt Dubnik, R-Gainesville) Would create income tax credit for licensed physicians, advanced practice registered nurses, or physician assistants who provide uncompensated preceptorship training to medical students, advanced practice registered nurse students, or physician assistant students. Passed Senate Finance and moves to Senate floor for vote.

HB 290 – PrEP Pilot Program at DPH
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) Would create a three-year pilot program under the Department of Public Health that would provide preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) drug assistance to people who are at risk of being infected with HIV. Passed Health & Human Services and moves to Senate floor for vote.

HB 321 – Medicaid Financing Program
(Jodi Lott, R-Evans) Would extend the sunset provision of the hospital provider fee for five years. The hospital payment program, which draws down additional federal funding, provides almost $1 billion annually to the state’s Medicaid budget. Substitute passed Senate Finance yesterday – added transparency measures included in new version.

HB 324 – Georgia’s Hope Act
(Micah Gravley, R-Douglasville) Would allow for the legal production, manufacturing, purchase, and sale of THC oil in Georgia. Certain individuals who suffer from a list of qualified disease may currently possess THC oil, but they cannot legally buy THC oil in the state – this bill would allow for that transaction. Assigned to Regulated Industries & Utilities in Senate.

HB 345 – Dignity for Incarcerated Women
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) Would ensure that no restraints of any kind are used on a woman who is in the second or third trimester of pregnancy, in labor, in delivery, or in the immediate postpartum period while incarcerated. Also ensures that no pregnant women would be subject to a squat and cough search or vaginal exam unless prescribed and performed by a licensed healthcare professional. David Dreyer, D-Atlanta, also filed a dignity for incarcerated women bill – HB 475 – it did not move forward. HMHB strongly supports this legislation and thanks Chairwoman Cooper and Representative Dreyer for their leadership on this important issue.  HB 345 passed Senate Health & Human Services unanimously yesterday! It will now go to the Senate floor for a vote.

ACTION ALERT: Now that HB 345 has passed Committee, it moves to the Senate for a full vote. Please contact your SENATOR and ask them to vote YES on HB 345 – Dignity for Incarcerated Women! Find your Senator at: 

HB 481 – Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act
(Ed Setzler, R-Acworth) Would place restrictions on accessing abortion care. Legislation would only allow abortions to take place up until there is a detectible heartbeat, which is typically during the first six weeks of pregnancy. Bill makes exceptions for abortions in cases of rape, incest or if the life of the mother is in danger. Current Georgia law allows abortions up to 20 weeks without exception. Senate Passed Substitute – goes back to House for Agree.

HB 514 – Mental Health Reform and Innovation Commission

(Kevin Tanner, D-Dawsonville) Would create the Georgia Mental Health Reform and Innovation Commission, which would be responsible for conducting a comprehensive review of the mental health system in the state. Assigned to Health & Human Services in the Senate. Senate Passed Substitute – goes back to House for Agree.