Keeping Current @ the Capitol: Week of March 26, 2018

Author: HMHB Staff

Here’s the latest at the Capitol:


SB 314 Consumer Coverage and Protection for Out-of-Network Care Act
(Chuck Hufsteler, R-Sandy Springs): This act will establish standards for carriers and health care providers with regard to payment under a managed care plan in the provision of emergency medical care. This bill will provide disclosures for patients, prospective patients, and insurer disclosures. This includes payments to providers for those in managed care contracts and penalties for violations. UPDATE: This bill has passed the Senate.

SB 8 Surprise Billing and Consumer Protection Act 
(Renee Unterman, R-Buford): This will provide for billing and reimbursement of out-of-network services; to provide for procedures for dispute resolution for surprise bills for non-emergency services and provide for payment of emergency services. This will also provide for an out-of-network reimbursement rate work group to provide for related matters, repeal conflicting laws and for other purposes. UPDATE: This bill has passed the House. It will now go to a conference committee to decide on details for the payment metric. The original language of HB 799 will also be considered in conference committee.

HB 519- Step Therapy 
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta): This bill would require health benefit plans to utilize certain clinical review criteria to establish step therapy protocols and provide for a step therapy override determination process. UPDATE: Passed the House but currently being held up in the Senate. It will likely need to attach to another vehicle to advance.


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. 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, and Butch Parrish, Health Appropriations Sub Committee Chairman for prioritizing this critical need for Georgia. UPDATE: The funding request of $2 million has been maintained in both the House and Senate versions of the budget to date. Per usual, there will be a study committee on the budget, so it is not yet final.

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. 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. UPDATE: Amended onto HB 927 and passed the Senate unanimously. We believe it may have difficulty passing in the House.

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 agreed to a hearing last Tuesday. This was the first ever hearing on a clean Medicaid expansion bill. NO UPDATE. 

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 and Senate and awaits signature by the Governor. NO UPDATE.

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 and was happy to provide testimony and support of this bill on the Senate side. This bill passed the House and Senate and awaits signature by the Governor. 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. There is support for appropriations for Group Prenatal Care on the Senate side. We will know more once the budget is once again reviewed by the House. NO UPDATE. 

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. SB 334 passed the Senate and is now assigned to the House HHS Committee. 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.