Keeping Current @ the Capitol: Week of March 5, 2018


Crossover Day was last Wednesday. Here’s what happened.

Thanks to You, We Stopped Tobacco Products From Harming More Infants & Mothers in Georgia!



HB 877 – Modified Risk Tobacco
(Chad Nimmer, R-Blackshear) A bill to cut the tobacco tax in half for so called “modified risk” tobacco products has passed the House Ways and Means committee and is now in the Rules committee awaiting a vote on the House Floor. Health advocates agree that this is a bad bill because: 1) There is no data to quantify the claim of reduced risk, 2) It will likely create a false sense of safety and actually encourage tobacco use, particularly among minors, and 3) Georgia already has the second lowest tobacco tax in the country

Specific to Pregnancy: Nicotine is an addictive substance that is toxic to reproduction and interferes with fetal brain development. It may also adversely affect fetal lung development and increase the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). As such, it is best to avoid using e-cigarettes or other nicotine-containing products during pregnancy.

Update: This bill lost decisively on the House Floor by a vote of 109-59.

Thank you to all of our Coalition members and partners who called members of the Rules Committee – they listened and you made a huge impact!

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.


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 been assigned to the Senate HHS committee.

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.

SB 344 – Legal Sale of Retail Marijuana
(Curt Thompson, D-Tucker) This bill would provide for the legal sale of retail marijuana in the state. The bill details the regulatory provisions for the sale, distribution, and cultivation of retail marijuana. DID NOT MAKE CROSSOVER.

HB 733– Including Psychiatrists in Loan Forgiveness for Underserved Areas
(Kimberly Alexander, D-Hiram) This bill would expand the service cancelable loan program for health professionals to include psychiatrists who practice in under-served, rural parts of the state. DID NOT MAKE CROSSOVER.

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.

HB 747– Medications for Hemophilia Under Medicaid
(Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta) The bill would allow Medicaid recipients to receive unrestricted access to medications for hemophilia. DID NOT MAKE CROSSOVER.

HB 382 – Place the Georgia Commission on Women Under Department of Public Health
(Jimmy Pruett, R-Eastman) This bill would place the Georgia Commission on Women (GCW) under the purview of the Department of Public Health. The Georgia General Assembly along with Gov. Zell Miller created the GCW in 1992. The mission of the Commission is to advise appointing officers and look at how laws affect women in Georgia and their families. DID NOT MAKE CROSSOVER.

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 has passed the House and been assigned to the Senate Finance Committee. NO UPDATE.

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. UPDATE: SB 357 has been 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.

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. 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.