The Advocacy Update below is provided to members of the Georgia Association of Orthopaedic Executives (GAOE) through our partnership with Capitol Strategy Group in Atlanta, and c ourtesy of Travis Lindley at Capitol Strategy Group.
Legislative Day 29
This week, the legislature was in Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Wednesday was spent in committee meetings, allowing legislators to have their bills moved out of committee to make the crossover deadline.
Consumer Protections Health Insurance
HB 84 by Rep. Richard Smith failed on the House Floor on Thursday. The measure failed 77 to 78. There were 25 Members out of the Chamber for the vote. 
Thank you to all who called to stop HB 84. 

Legislation That  Crossed Over

Out of Network Billing
SB 56   by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler passed the Senate floor unanimously on Tuesday, this past week. The bill has met the crossover deadline and will make it's way to the House to await a committee assignment. As a reminder, the bill protects patients by providing a comprehensive solution to surprise bills by doing the following:
  • Removes the patient from the billing dispute that occurs between physicians, providers, health insurers and hospitals;
  • Applies to emergency and elective cases;
  • Provides a minimum benefit standard paid to physicians and providers for the health insurers that lack networks;
SB 56 is supported by a coalition group that includes the physician community, patients, and the consumer advocacy organizations. 
Medicaid Waivers
SB 106  by Sen. Blake Tillery, awaits a hearing in the House Special Committee on Access to Quality Health Care. This is Gov. Brian Kemp’s health care legislation surrounding waivers, also known as the 'Patients First Act.' If signed into law, the legislation would authorize the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH) to submit a Section 1115 waiver to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to expand the number of Georgians who are insured by Georgia’s Medicaid program. Furthermore, the legislation would allow the Administration to submit a Section 1332 waiver to the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to get permission to find innovative ways to provide residents with access to affordable quality health care. A waiver granted from the U.S. HHS Department would allow Georgia to use the Medicaid expansion funds to buy private insurance in the state health insurance exchange for eligible Georgia citizens at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level. 
Interstate Medical Licensure Compact
SB 16 by Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, M.D. will improve the process for physicians to obtain licenses in other participating states. Georgia will be the 25th state to become a part of the compact should this clear the House and be signed into law by the Governor. This bill passed the Senate unanimously and is awaiting a hearing in House Health and Human Services. 
Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform Council Creation 
SB 222 , by Sen. Jesse Stone reauthorizes the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform, more than eight months after the previous council lapsed. The council would proceed through 2022. Passed unanimously on the Senate floor, the bill awaits a committee assignment in the House.
Insurance Card Disclosure
SB 142 , by Sen. Larry Walker, requires that a statement indicating that the subscriber's health policy is fully insured must be included on a subscriber's health insurance identification card. The bill passed the Senate unanimously where it awaits a hearing in House Insurance. 
PDMP Revision
SB 121 , by Sen. Larry Walker, requires the length of time data is kept on the PDMP. The language allowing law enforcement to search without cause has been removed. The bill passed the Senate and awaits a committee assignment in the House.
Step Therapy
HB 63  by Rep. Sharon Cooper would establish exceptions to health insurer step therapy protocols. The bill passed the House and currently is awaiting a hearing in Senate Insurance.
HB 62  by Rep. Sharon Cooper, would require a health care facility to notify a patient whenever dense breast tissue is detected in a mammogram. The legislation includes specific language that must be included in that notification. This bill has passed both the House and Senate floor and is on the governors desk. 
HIV Medicaid and ADAP Recipients
HB 158  introduced by Rep. Deborah Silcox, makes it easier for HIV-positive Medicaid recipients to receive the most effective medications, allowing physicians to get patients into treatments quickly with the most effective drug regimen available. The bill passed the House unanimously and is awaiting a hearing in Senate Health and Human Services.
State Health Benefit Plan Bariatric Surgery Pilot Renewal & Expansion 
HB 160 by Rep. Katie Dempsey, renews and expands the pilot for a bariatric surgery benefit to a four year pilot allowing for 250 plan participants per year through 2024. The bill has been assigned to Senate Health and Human Services and is awaiting a hearing.
Needle Exchange
HB 217   by Rep. Sharon Cooper creates a syringe services program relating to hypodermic syringes or needles. The bill passed the House and is awaiting a hearing in the Senate Health and Human Services.
Preexposure (PrEP) to HIV Pilot Program 
HB 290   by Rep. Sharon Cooper, establishes a three-year pilot program to provide pre-exposure prophylaxis drug assistance or services to persons at risk of being infected with HIV. This bill was approved by the House and now awaits a hearing in Senate Health and Human Services.
Hospital Bed Tax
HB 321 by Rep. Jodi Lott, extends the sunset provision through June 2025 relating to the hospital Medicaid financing program. Passed in the House, the bill currently sits in Senate Finance.
Pharmacy Anti Steering
HB 233 by Rep. David Knight, enables a transparency program for Pharmacy Benefit Managers. The bill awaits a hearing in Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
Pharmacy Benefit Manager Reform
HB 323 ,   by Rep. David Knight, would provide transparency of PBMs to report annually to the Commissioner the aggregate amount of all rebates that the pharmacy benefits manager received from pharmaceutical manufacturers and the aggregate amount of rebates the pharmacy benefits manager received from pharmaceutical manufacturers that it did not pass through to insurers or payers. Passing the House unanimously, the bill has been assigned to Senate Health and Human Services where it awaits further action.
Hospice Orders 
HB 374 by Rep. John LaHood, authorizes certified medication aides to administer medications to residents under hospice care pursuant to a physician's written orders. The bill passed unanimously through the House awaiting action in Senate Health and Human Services.

Joint Study Committee on Infant and Toddler Social and
Emotional Health
HR 421 by Rep. Katie Dempsey creates  Joint Study Committee exploring the effects on infant and toddler social and emotional health.
Abortion - Heartbeat
HB 481 by Rep. Ed Setzler institutes a law declaring that abortions are illegal in the state after a heartbeat is detected, which is usually around six weeks gestation. After much controversy surrounding this sensitive issue, the bill passed the House in the late hours of legislative day 28, by a vote of 93 - 74. The bill moves on to the Senate where it awaits committee assignment.
Dangerous Drug Update
HB 483 by Rep. Ron Stephens, is the annual update to Schedules I, IV, and V controlled substances. Passing the House floor with only two no votes, the bill awaits a Senate committee assignment.
Behavioral Health Reform and Innovation Commission  
HB 514 , by Rep. Kevin Tanner, creates the Behavioral Health Reform and Innovation Commission. The legislation creates a commission comprised of 23 experts to develop a statewide plan for mental and behavioral health. The committee makeup is as follows:
Members appointed by the Governor: 

A chairperson;
A psychiatrist who specializes in children and adolescents; 
A psychiatrist who specializes in adults; 
A certified addiction recovery empowerment specialist;
A state education official with broad experience in education policy;
A representative from an urban community service board; 
A representative from a rural community service board;
An addictionologist;
A forensic psychiatrist; 
A local education official.
Members appointed by the President of the Senate: 

Two members of the Senate;
A sheriff;
A licensed clinical behavioral health professional; 
A behavioral health advocate.
Members appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives:
Two members of the House of Representatives;
A police chief;
A licensed clinical behavioral health professional; 
A behavioral health advocate.
Members appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia: 

One Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia;
Two judges.
Members serving as nonvoting ex officio members of the commission: 

Commissioner of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities or his or her designee; 
Commissioner of the Department of Juvenile Justice or his or her designee; 
Commissioner of the Department of Corrections or his or her designee;
Commissioner of the Department of Community Health or his or her designee;
Director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation or his or her designee.
The bill now awaits a committee assignment in the Senate. 
CON Reform Thwarted 
Senate Fails to Act on CON Reform 
The Senate failed to take action or pass any legislation on CON before crossover day.
House Vote on CON Fails: 94 to 72
The House voted down  HB 198   by Rep. Matt Hatchett which was a proposal to repeal CON.
HB 198 is dead for the 2019 legislative session. However, some of the provisions could be added to other pending legislation.
Legislation That Did Not  Crossover

These bills will remain in the committee of origin until the beginning of the 202 Legislative Session.
House Bills 
Chiropractic Lien  -  HB 9
DXM Cough Medicine Age Verification  -  HB 11
Podiatry Scope Expansion  -  HB 330
Vaccine Mandated Warnings  -  HB 416
APEX Program Foundation Creation  -  HB 524
Emergency Involuntary Treatment  -  HB 544
Hospice Drug Take Back -  HB 586
Senate Bills 
Health Strategies Council  -  SB 114
Tort -  SB 155
E-Discovery -  SB 189
Religious Freedom Restoration Act   SB 221

Budget Update

The Amended FY19 budget has passed both chambers and is on the Governor's desk. 
The House Appropriations Committee had two early mornings meetings and the House passed the FY20 budget on Thursday. 
  • The appropriations committee made the following changes to the Governors proposed FY20 budget. The most significant changes are in the Georgia Board for Physician Workforce Graduate Medical Education budget. 
  • The House increased funds to allow for 27 new residency slots in primary care medicine, for a total of 139 slots in FY 19;
  • The House continued to show concern regarding physician workforce by providing funds for a second year gynecological oncology fellowship at Augusta University for $125,000;
  • Providing  funds for 54 slots in OB/GYN residency programs to reach a total of 36 slots at Emory University School of Medicine, 20 slots at Medical College of Georgia, 16 slots at Memorial University Medical Center, 16 slots at Morehouse School of Medicine, and 16 slots at Navicent Health Care Macon for an additional $828,042; 
  • Provide increased funds for Augusta University for the Rural Surgery Initiative to $352,968; 
  • Provide increased funds for Augusta University for child and adolescent psychiatry to $381,470;
  • Provide funds for the Georgia Statewide Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) Network program office to expand statewide certification training for health professions students as Mental Health First Aid trainees to $41,875;
  • Provide funds for a start-up grant for the South Georgia Medical Center residency program for $90,000; 
  • Provide funds for a Center of Excellence on Maternal Mortality at Morehouse School of Medicine in order to advance maternal health in Georgia for $500,000. 
For our complete legislative tracking sheet  click here.
Legislative Calendar

Legislators will be in session Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday next week, taking the session through legislative day 32. 
Sine Die (Legislative Day 40) is set for Tuesday, April 2.

For legislative highlights and review, watch  Lawmakers , which airs at 
7 PM   on GPB  every day the General Assembly is in session. 

You can also watch a live stream of each legislative day's proceedings on the General Assembly website. Go to  and click the  Live Broadcast  link on the left. 
Watch the General Assembly LIVE! Each day that the General Assembly is in session, you can watch the proceedings live via the internet at: . Click the Live Broadcast option. You can also watch the Prime Time Lawmakers daily broadcast on Georgia Public Broadcasting each evening the General Assembly is in session. 

If you have personal relationships with any state elected officials, please help us by making us aware of these crucial relationships.
More Information - Call Travis Lindley & Devin Krecl, our lobbyists, at 770.435.5586 or Travis’ Cell 404.886.5058 or Devin’s Cell 770.655.9545.


Travis P. Lindley | Capitol Strategy Group, Inc
2700 Cumberland Parkway, Suite 150, Atlanta, Georgia 30339
Office: (770) 435-5586 | Cell: (404) 886-5058