Gold Dome Report

Legislative Days Days 25-29 – Monday, February 22 – Friday, February 26 Day 30 – Monday, February 29 Day 31 – Wednesday, March 2 Days 32-35 – Monday, March 7, Tuesday, March 8, Thursday, March 10, Friday, March 11 Days 36-38 – Monday, March 14 – Wednesday, March 16 Day 39 – Tuesday, March 22 Day 40 – Thursday, March 24 BUDGET

AFY2016: The Senate unanimously approved the House changes to HB 750, the Amended FY2016 budget. The Governor signed the document this week, creating an additional $1.25 billion in state spending between now and the end of June 2016.    FY2017: The House Appropriations Committee met on Thursday morning to discuss HB 751, the FY2017 Budget. The Committee agreed to the House Appropriations Health Subcommittee’s proposed recommendations, which include multiple Medicaid rate increases. Medicaid providers of primary care, skilled nursing care, emergency ambulance services, children’s therapy services and home and community-based long-term care services all benefited from the subcommittee’s recommendations. The House made changes to the following items:

  • Transfer $46,488,969 in state general funds and $6,191,806 in tobacco settlement funds for the Community Care Services Program (CCSP) from the Elder Community Living Services program in the Department of Human Services. State funds include $52,680,775 and total funds include $67,016,733
  • Reduce funds for previous changes in rate calculations for nursing facility operator changes to reflect projected expenditures. This reflects a decrease in state funds in the amount of $4,100,000 and $12,736,875 in total funds.
  • Increase funds to provide for a 3% inflation adjustment on the 2012 nursing home cost reports. This increase reflects $11,300,000 in state funds and $35,104,070 in total funds.
  • Increase funds for the Independent Care Waiver Program (ICWP) Personal Support rates to match the CCSP and SOURCE program rates in the amount of $3,774,382 in state funds and $11,727,325 in total funds
  • Increase funds for the reimbursement rates for Adult Day Health Centers by 5% to provide parity with other home and community-based service providers. This increase reflects $399,670 in state funds and $1,241,597 in total funds.

The FY 2017 Budget passed on the House Floor this morning.   TORT REFORM EFFORT, HB 920 BY TREY KELLEY, SET FOR A VOTE IN HOUSE JUDICIARY SUBCOMMITTEE MONDAY AFTERNOON AT 2PM   After another week of negotiations between GHCA members and the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, HB 920 will be before the Fleming Subcommittee of House Judiciary this Monday afternoon.    Last week, GHCA President and CEO Tony Marshall and General Counsel Jason Bring both testified in favor of our tort reform efforts in this same subcommittee.  The meeting was only a hearing and Monday’s meeting will hold a vote on the bill. HOUSE HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES COMMITTEE   The following bills were passed out of the House HHS Committee on Tuesday:   HB 684, authored by Rep. Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta), would allow a dental hygienist to perform board certified services without the direct supervision of a dentist in the hopes of serving “desert” dental areas to provide services to those in need. The bill was tabled in last week’s House HHS Committee to allow for language revisions. The author worked closely with the Georgia Dental Association (GDA) to make the requested revisions. The bill substitute calls for a dentist to be certified in the State of Georgia and can only delegate hygienists within 100 miles of his/her practice. It also states that a supervising dentist can only delegate four hygienists; dental equipment must be in the building where services are being administered but does not mandate who purchases the equipment; and a hygienist must have at least two years of experience before a dentist can delegate services.   HB 897, sponsored by Rep. Betty Price (R-Roswell), would provide for the establishment and operation of a drug repository program to accept and dispense unused prescription drugs. Kiah Williams, Co-Director of SIRUM, a company that administers these services, was also present and testified beside Rep. Price on behalf of the bill. Ms. Williams stated that there is over $5 billion of unused medicine that goes to waste every year, as well as a population of 5 million lower-income individuals who aren’t able to obtain proper medications due to the high costs of drugs. This legislation would create a safety network of providers and donors. The donors (nursing homes) would give their unused medications to the providers, who would then distribute the unused medication to these lower-income patients, free of charge. HB 916, authored by Rep. Dustin Hightower (R-), this bill would prevent the Department of Community Health from recouping full payment for medical assistance if the provider makes a clerical or record-keeping error in their reimbursement documentation.  HB 944, authored by Rep. Sheri Gilligan (R-Cumming), would allow a physician assistant or a registered professional nurse to pronounce the death of an individual in a nursing home or in hospice care who is an organ donor if the individual died of natural causes. Currently, Georgia RN’s can pronounce death in hospice and nursing home settings if the deceased is not an organ donor. The bill was amended to add nurse practitioners to the language.   Rep. Spencer Frye (D-Athens) authored HB 910, which would add psychiatric, psychological, and other mental health records to the current code relating to the costs of copying and mailing patient records. The author stated that the bill is “a cleanup bill.” HB 900 is authored by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta). This bill would amend the current Code to allow the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency to retain aggregated prescription information for two years, instead of one year, from the date the information is received. HOUSE INDUSTRY AND LABOR COMMITTEE HB 216, authored by Rep. Micah Gravley (R-Douglasville), would establish that cancer would be covered by a fire fighter’s worker’s compensation benefit if it is demonstrated by evidence that the cancer was caused by the circumstances of his employment. The bill passed through committee on Wednesday. E-DISCOVERY   HB 1017, authored by Rep. Barry Fleming (R-Harlem), relates to the “Georgia Civil Practice Act,” commonly known as E-Discovery. The bill was heard in subcommittee this week. Testimony was given from both sides including, the State Bar of Atlanta. No action was taken but a follow-up subcommittee hearing is scheduled for Monday at 2:00 P.M.   HOUSE INSURANCE AND LABOR COMMITTEE   The House Insurance and Labor Committee met on Wednesday of this week and passed the following pieces of legislation:   HB 784, authored by Rep. John Carson (R-Marietta), this bill relates to insurance agents. If a gift is given to a current or prospective client, it shall not exceed $50.00 per year.   HB 965, authored by Rep. Cheokas (R-Americus), would enact the “Honorable Jimmy Carter Cancer Treatment Access Act.” This piece of legislation would require health insurers to “fast track” approval of cancer treatment protocols for Stage IV metastatic cancer patients so that they do not have to advance through lower-level treatment regimens before being treated with the medications appropriate for their diagnosis.   SENATE HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES COMMITTEE   The Senate Health and Human Services Committee also met on Wednesday, to hear a recently dropped bill authored by Sen. Michael Rhett (D-Marietta). This bill would create an insurance premium subsidy assistance program to provide financial assistance toward insurance premiums to patients who do not qualify for Medicaid. The bill acts as an alternative to Medicaid expansion. A hearing only, the bill did not move through the committee process. The committee is also waiting on a fiscal note.   HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS INCOME TAX SUBCOMMITTEE   The House Ways and Means Income Tax Subcommittee also met on Thursday and passed the following bills:   HB 919, authored by Rep. Geoff Duncan (R-Cumming), would establish a tax credit for an individual or company who contributes to a rural health care organization.   HB 997, also authored by Rep. Geoff Duncan (R-Cumming), would create a new income tax credit for taxpayers who are 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 for certain periods of time.   SENATE INSURANCE COMMITTEE   The Senate Insurance and Labor Committee met on Thursday afternoon and took up SB 302, authored by Sen. P.K. Martin (R-Lawrenceville). The bill would require health plans to maintain and conduct periodic audits to ensure the accuracy of the directory. The bill substitute makes revisions to ensure that the requirements aren’t overburdening for providers. The bill passed through the committee and now moves to Senate Rules.   BILLS THAT PASSED THE HOUSE FLOOR HB 34, authored by Rep. Mike Dudgeon (R-Johns Creek), creates the “Georgia Right to Try Act.” The bill grants some terminally-ill patients faster access to investigational drugs that have passed phase one of the three-phase FDA drug approval process. Manufacturers are not required to offer treatment, and health insurance companies are not required to pay for the treatment. HB 588, authored by Rep. Valerie Clark (R-Lawrenceville), would require retail customers to issue an ID when purchasing product containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine. Retail distributors must electronically track the sale of these products to generate a stop sale alert, notifying the distributor that the purchase exceeds the quantity limits. Individuals can only purchase 9 grams of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine per 30-day period in dosage form.   HB 762, authored by Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs), this bill relates to the unlawful buying, selling, or offering to buy or sell a human body or parts to include human fetuses.   HB 783, sponsored by Rep. Bruce Broadrick (R-Dalton), this piece of legislation is the annual Schedule I and Schedule IV controlled substances update.   HB 813, sponsored by Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper), this bill allows a licensed practitioner who has diagnosed a patient with chlamydia or gonorrhea to prescribe antibiotic drugs to the sexual partner of the patient without physically examining the partner.   HB 853, authored by Rep. Lee Hawkins (R-Gainesville), this bill is titled the “Coverdell-Murphy Act” and encourages hospitals to establish comprehensive stroke centers to patients who experience complex strokes. The legislation also promotes the establishment of remote treatment stroke centers to provide treatment to patients in rural and other underserved areas.   HB 886, sponsored by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta), this bill would revise a provision relating to employing the mails or common carriers to sell, distribute, and deliver prescription drugs.   HB 902, authored by Rep. Katie Dempsey (R-Rome), would provide for educational information on influenza disease to residents of assisted living communities.   BILLS THAT PASSED THE SENATE FLOOR   SB 115, authored by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome), this piece of legislation would authorize a physician to delegate to a physician assistant the authority to prescribe Schedule II controlled substances.   SB 158, authored by Sen. Dean Burke (R-Bainbridge), is a scaled-down version of last year’s broader insurance bill, and now only deals with rental networks, including some exemptions.   SB 290, sponsored by Sen. Charlie Bethel (R-Dalton), this bill clarifies language on which individuals are not required to be licensed as an insurance agent.   SB 305, sponsored by Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford), this bill is the Physician Order for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) bill, and would require the Department of Public Health to notify the House and Senate Health and Human Services Committees prior to modifying the current POLST form.   NEW LEGISLATION   HB 952, authored by Rep. Chad Nimmer (R-Blackshear), this bill would enact the “Georgia Professional Regulation Reform Act” and would provide for executive oversight of licensing boards.   HB 954, sponsored by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula), this bill would enact the Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act.   HB 1017, authored by Rep. Barry Fleming (R-), this bill would change provisions relating to e-discovery.   HB 1037, sponsored by Rep. Valerie Clark (R-Lawrenceville), this bill would expand the certified nurse aid registry to nurse aids who provide services in private residences.   HB 1043, sponsored by Rep. Trey Kelley (R-Cedartown), this piece of legislation aims to correct some unintended consequences of the Vaccine Protocol Agreement bill that passed last Session (HB 504) by reducing the burdens that are placed on hospitals and healthcare facilities when hosting community and workplace vaccine clinics for influenza.   HR 1365, sponsored by Rep. David Clark (R-Buford), this resolution creates the Joint Study Committee on Veterans’ Health and Employment Initiatives.   HR 1367, sponsored by Rep. Darlene Taylor (R-Thomasville), this resolution creates the House Study Committee on the Pharmacy Benefits Managers Process.   SB 382, sponsored by Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford), this bill is the surprise billing legislation.   SB 391, sponsored by Sen. Hunter Hill (R-Atlanta), this piece of legislation would change certain provisions of the “Fair Employment Practices Act of 1978” and personnel administration in order to expand the definition of discrimination to include differential or preferential treatment.   SB 402, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga), this piece of legislation would provide for a moratorium on the issuance of new licenses to narcotic treatment programs and would create the State Commission on Narcotic Treatment Programs.   SR 974, authored by Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford), this resolution creates the Senate Surprise Billing Practices Study Committee.