From the GHCA Government Affairs Staff and our partners at Frogue Clark Public Affairs Consulting:

GOLD DOME REPORT – FINAL EDITION FOR 2016 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

The House and Senate adjourned just after midnight on Friday, March 24, completing the 2016 Legislative Session. Below you will find some highlights from an eventful evening under the Gold Dome. 

Top GHCA Priorities Received Passage in 2016 Session

As has been reported over the course of session, GHCA’s two top priorities, liability reform and increased funding, received passage and now await the Governor’s signature.  HB 920, sponsored by Rep. Trey Kelley (R-Cedartown), passed out of the Senate last week and was given final approval Tuesday when the House agreed to changes made in the Senate.  

Also on Tuesday, the House and Senate gave final approval to the FY2017 Appropriations Act.  This budget granted a 3% increase to the existing 2012 cost report, resulting in $35.1 million in new funding to Georgia nursing centers.  Additionally, the House and Senate agreed on a 3% increase to ventilator rates for Georgia providers who offer those services.

PASSED LEGISLATION 

HB 193, sponsored by Rep. Carl Rogers (R-Gainesville), provides for the “Life Insurance Consumer Disclosure Model Act.” Life agents would be employed to explain to the policy holder other options available to them should the policy be on the verge of lapsing due to high costs.

HB 212, authored by Rep. Tom Weldon (R-Ringgold), relates to licensure requirements for pain management clinics, so as to revise a provision relating to the health care professionals who must be on-site at a pain management clinic in order for the clinic to provide medical treatment or services. Essentially, this bill protects the states ability to shut down pill mills while still allowing CRNAs to continue administering pain blocks. 

HB 509, sponsored by Rep. Jesse Petrea (R-Savannah), implements initiatives to improve quality and delivery of patient centered and family focused palliative care. This piece of legislation also creates the Georgia Palliative Care and Quality of Life Advisory Council and a state-wide Palliative Care Consumer and Professional Information and Education Program. 

HB 853, sponsored by Rep. Lee Hawkins (R-Gainesville), relates to the “Coverdell-Murphy Act,” and would update the current levels of certified stroke centers to reflect advances in stroke treatment and therapy by adding comprehensive stroke centers.

HB 866, authored by Rep. Shaw Blackmon (R-Bonaire), relates to multiple employer self-insured health plans, so as to exempt multiple employer self-insured health plans from premium taxes. The fiscal note on this bill is $57,000 and would become effective upon the Governor’s signature.

HB 886, authored by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta), relates to pharmacy licenses, and would revise a provision relating to employing mails or common carriers to sell, distribute, and deliver prescription drugs to ensure that shipping mail order drugs meet federal standards.  

HB 897, authored 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 in nursing homes.  GHCA staff will continue to follow this issue as plans for implementation are developed.

HB 900, authored by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta), authorizes the retention of data base information for two years as it relates to electronic prescription information. The bill also provides for the access of such information for purposes of investigation of potential abuses. 

HB 902, sponsored by Rep. Katie Dempsey (R-Rome), provides for educational information on influenza disease to residents of assisted living communities. GHCA staff will continue to provide information on how these policies will be implemented.

HB 910, sponsored by Rep. Spencer Frye (D-Athens), relates to health records, so as to provide that provisions relating to the costs of copying and mailing patient records apply to psychiatric, psychological, and other mental health records. 

HB 916, authored by Rep. Dustin Hightower (R-Carrollton), relates to the “Pharmacy Audit Bill of Rights,” so as to provide that clerical or other errors do not constitute a basis to recoup payments made by providers of medical assistance. 

HB 926, authored by Rep. Bruce Broadrick (R-Dalton), provides for the regulation of certain facilities and entities involved in the wholesale, manufacture, and distribution of drugs. 

HB 952, authored by Rep. Chad Nimmer (R-Blackshear), enacts the “Georgia Professional Regulation Reform Act,” so as to provide for direct executive oversight of licensing boards rules and regulations by the Governor.

HB 954, authored by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula), creates the Uniform Jurisdiction Guardianship Act and would allow for an individual serving as a guardian to transfer the guardianship or conservatorship to another state without having to apply for new order to maintain guardianship. 

HB 1037, authored by Rep. Valerie Clark (R-Lawrenceville), creates the certified nurse aide registry to nurse aides who provide services in private residences to allow for individuals to make complaints about nurse aids. 

HB 1043, authored by Rep. Trey Kelley (R-Cedartown), creates a limited exemption for hospitals as they relate to influenza vaccines. Last year, a bill was passed making it difficult for hospital personnel to go to job sites and issue these vaccines. This bill would relieve this burden to allow hospital personnel to administer influenza vaccines on job sites, among others. 

HB 826, authored by Rep. Betty Price (R-Roswell), relates to physicians, assistants, and others, so as to provide for certain requirements for advertisement or publication of representations of board certification by physicians. 

HB 1085, authored by Rep. Katie Dempsey (R-Rome), transfers the oversight of the aging services from the Department of Human Services to the Department of Community Health. The GHCA Board has appointed a work group to monitor development and implementation of the policies associated with this transfer.

SB 258, sponsored by Sen. Fran Millar (R-Atlanta), also includes language from HB 919, authored by Rep. Geoff Duncan (R-Cumming). HB 919 allows individuals and corporations to use their tax dollars and donate to rural health care operators. The health care facility must be located in a rural county; must participate in both Medicaid and Medicare and accept both Medicaid and Medicare; and must provide health care services to indigent patients, among other requirements. Contributions from an individual or married couple must be 80 percent of the actual amount expended ($2,500 individual and $5,000 per couple) per tax year. A corporation shall be allowed a tax credit in the amount not to exceed 80 percent of the actual amount expended or 75 percent of the corporation’s income tax liability, whichever is less. Additionally, the aggregate amount of tax credits allowed can not exceed $100 million per tax year.

SB 302, authored by Sen. P.K. Martin (R-Lawrenceville), requires health insurance providers to maintain an accurate directory of service providers within their networks. It specifies the contents of directory listings, the frequency of updates and the forms of directories to be supplied. 

SB 305, sponsored by Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford), requires the Department of Public Health to notify the chairpersons and members of the House and Senate Health and Human Services Committees at least 60 days before implementing changes to the Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form.

FAILED LEGISLATION 

HB 944, sponsored by Rep. Sheri Gilligan (R-Cumming), would allow the pronouncement of death of patients in hospice or nursing homes who are organ donors by a physician assistant or registered professional nurse, instead of a physician. 

As always, please contact Russel Carlson at any time with questions or concerns.  He may be reached via cell at 404.421.4066 or rcarlson@ghca.info