Our associates at Frogue Clark Public Affairs have provided the following update on healthcare legislation moving across the Gold Dome:

CALENDAR

Day 21-24 Tuesday, February 21 – Friday, February 24
Day 25-27 Monday, February 27 – Wednesday, March 1
Day 28 Friday, March 3
Day 29 Monday, March 6
Day 30-31 Thursday, March 9 – Friday, March 10
Day 32-35 Monday, March 13 – Thursday, March 16
Day 36 Monday, March 20
Day 37 Wednesday, March 22
Day 38 Friday, March 24
Day 39 Tuesday, March 28
Day 40 Thursday, March 30

 

Governor Nathan Deal signed SB 70 in to law on Tuesday. Sponsored by Sen. Butch Miller (R-Gainesville), this piece of legislation renews the Hospital Provider Payment Program/Hospital Medicaid Financing Program and extends the program until June 30, 2020. The original law had a sunset date of June 30, 2017.

On Wednesday, he signed HB 43, the $24.3 billion dollar Amended FY2017 Budget that included much needed funding for nursing home surveyors at DCH.

SB 41 – Authored by Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford), this piece of legislation would provide for the licensure of durable medical equipment suppliers. The following persons and entities shall be exempt from the requirements (unless any such person or entity has a separate company that is in the business of selling or renting durable medical equipment to consumers):

  • Pharmacies and pharmacists;
  • Hospitals;
  • Ambulatory surgical centers;
  • Health care facilities owned or operated by the state or federal government;
  • Skilled nursing facilities;
  • Assisted living facilities;
  • Health care practitioners who:
    • Provide durable medical equipment within scope of practice of profession;
    • Are licensed in the state to practice health care practitioner’s profession
  • Suppliers of insulin infusion pumps and related supplies or services
  • Manufacturers or wholesale distributors that do not provide durable medical equipment directly to consumers.

SB 16 – Sen. Ben Watson (R-Savannah) sponsored this piece of legislation, which changes the definition of low THC oil by lowering the amount of cannabidiol from 5 to 3 percent. It also adds ‘Autism spectrum disorder’ to the Low THC Oil Patient Registry.

House and Senate Committees Take Action on Surprise Billing

SB 8 – Authored by Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford), this piece of legislation is known as the Surprise Billing and Consumer Protection Act. The bill would provide consumer protections against surprise medical bills that the patients’ insurers do not cover. The legislation would also provide for disclosure requirements for hospitals and physicians they contract with.  An amendment was added to the legislation during the committee meeting setting the out-of-network reimbursement rate at the 80th percentile of a national benchmarking data base maintained by the Department of Insurance. The bill substitute had the reimbursement rate set at 60%. SB 8 passed out of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Thursday.

HB 71 – Rep. Richard Smith (R-Columbus) authored this piece of legislation. Similar to SB 8, this bill would also provide consumer protections against surprise medical bills that the patients’ insurer does not cover. It would provide for disclosure requirements of providers, hospitals and insurers for the billing of out-of-network services resulting in the “surprise bill” to patients. Additionally, the bill would stipulate that hospitals require physicians to contract with the same plans as the hospitals in order to be credentialed. The reimbursement rate in this piece of legislation is set at ‘usual and customary cost.’ Rep. Smith also stated during his testimony that Fair Health would not be a part of the legislation. The bill passed out of the House Insurance Committee on Friday morning.

These two pieces of legislation are expected to go to conference committee.

Senate Insurance and Labor Committee

SB 118, authored by Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford), this bill would allow for autism coverage for children up until the age of 21. The bill passed out of committee as written.

House Health and Human Services Committee

The House Health and Human Services Committee passed the following bills on Tuesday:

HB 165 – Authored by Rep. Betty Price (R-Roswell), this bill would provide that maintenance of certification shall not be required as a condition of licensure to practice medicine, staff privileges, employment in certain facilities, reimbursement, or malpractice insurance coverage.

HB 206 – Rep. Trey Kelley (R-Cedartown) authored this piece of legislation, which would remove an exception relating to certain audits conducted by the Department of Community Health relating to Medicaid, by providing that any clerical or record-keeping error not constitute fraud or constitute a basis to recoup full payments made by providers.

HB 210 – Authored by Rep. Jodi Lott (R-Evans), this bill would alter the current definition of ‘clinical laboratory’ so that it would exclude any specimen collection station that collects human blood for the manufacturing of biological products. The legislation essentially removes plasma collection centers as being categorized as laboratories to help ease the regulatory burden on plasma collection centers.

HR 170 – Authored by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta), this resolution urges state agencies, medical service providers, health care agencies, research facilities, medical schools, and all interested parties to work towards increasing research, clinical care, and medical education for myalgic encephalomyelitis

The Committee also heard a presentation from WellStar regarding Georgia’s opioid epidemic and programs for physician education related to opioid prescribing.

Senate Health and Human Services Committee

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee met twice this week and took up multiple pieces of legislation. On Tuesday, the committee passed the following bills:

SB 106 – Authored by Sen. Greg Kirk (R-Americus), this bill would amend the current licensure law of pain management clinics and would remove the ‘administration of anesthesia by a certified registered nurse anesthetist’ from current law. The Georgia Society of Anesthesiologists offered the amendment to ensure that returning patients would be seen by a physician if it has been over 30 days. The nurse practitioner would then be allowed to continue giving unsupervised care. The amendment was not considered and the bill passed as written.

SB 125 – Sponsored by Sen. Rick Jeffares (R-McDonough), this piece of legislation would authorize a physician to delegate to a physician assistant the authority to prescribe hydrocodone compound products.

SB 96 – Sponsored by Sen. Ben Watson (R-Savannah), this piece of legislation would allow registered professional nurses, nurse practitioners or physician assistants to pronounce the death of patients in nursing homes even if the patient is an organ donor. This bill was passed out of committee on Thursday afternoon.

House Insurance

The House Insurance Committee met early Wednesday morning and took up the following pieces of legislation:

HB 35 – Rep. Bruce Broadrick (R-Dalton) authored this legislation relating to regulation and licensure of pharmacy benefits managers, so as to require confirmation of receipt of prior approval requests for prescription drugs within 48 hours. A suggestion was made to change the time-frame to 24 hours. No vote was taken on the legislation

HB 174 – Authored by Rep. Eddie Lumsden (R-Armuchee), this bill would expand an insurer’s medium of payment of policy to include any other method of payment approved by the Commissioner. The bill passed through the committee and now moves to Rules.

On Friday, The House Insurance Committee passed HB 262. Authored by Rep. Eddie Lumsden (R-Armuchee), this piece of legislation relates to provider directories and accuracy, and would exempt standalone dental plans from the requirement of printed directories for certain entities.

Senate Insurance and Labor

The Senate Insurance and Labor Committee held a meeting on Wednesday and passed HB 127. Sponsored by Rep. Richard Smith (R-Columbus), this bill would repeal certain obsolete provisions relative to nonprofit medical service corporations and nonprofit hospital service corporations as they relate to insurance (Chapter 18 and 19 in Georgia Code).

House Ways & Means Income Tax Subcommittee

HB 301 – Authored by Rep. Jodi Lott (R-Evans), this piece of legislation 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.

NEW LEGISLATION

HB 301 – Authored by Rep. Jodi Lott (R-Evans), this piece of legislation 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. It has been assigned to the House Ways and Means Committee.

HB 360 – Sponsored by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta), this piece of legislation would provide for expedited partner therapy for patients with chlamydia or gonorrhea. It has been assigned to the House Health and Human Services Committee.

HR 240 – Sponsored by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta), this piece of legislation would create the Joint Study Committee on Reforming HIV Related Criminal Law. It has been assigned to the House Special Rules Committee.

SB 164 – Authored by Sen. Fran Millar (R-Atlanta), this piece of legislation would prohibit certain insurers from imposing a copayment, coinsurance, or office visit deductible amount greater than such charges imposed on a physician or an osteopath to an insured for services rendered by a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, or chiropractor. It has been assigned to the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee.

SB 166 – Sponsored by Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford), this bill would create a “nurse Licensure Compact” and would provide for the establishment of the Interstate Commission of Nurse Licensure Compact Administrators. It has been assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

SB 173 – Sponsored by Sen. Burt Jones (R-Jackson), this bill would provide for scope of provisions and lines of businesses a captive insurance company may engage to add an agency captive insurance company with certain restrictions. It has been assigned to the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee.

SB 180 – Authored by Sen. Dean Burke (R-Bainbridge), this piece of legislation combines HB 54, SB 14 and SB 44, all relating to the Rural Hospital Tax Credit. The legislation would:

  • Increase the tax credit percentage from 70 percent for individuals and corporations to 90 percent. It would also standardize the aggregate amount of tax credits allowed from 2017 through 2019 to $60 million per year;
  • Clarify that the tax credit would be for $10,000 or 70 percent of the actual amount expended, whichever is less;
  • And exempt the identities of individuals and corporate donors to rural hospital organizations from public disclosure.

SB 184 – Authored by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome), this bill would establish the Integrated Population Health Data Project with a governing board consisting of 10 members.

SB 200 – This bill, authored by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome), would provide for synchronizing patients’ chronic medications.

SB 201 – Authored by Sen. Butch Miller (R-Gainesville), this piece of legislation would allow employees to use their sick leave for the care of immediate family members.

SB 202 – Sponsored by Sen. Michael Rhett (D-Marietta), this bill would provide for an increase in the personal needs allowance to be deducted from a nursing home resident’s income.

SR 238 – Sponsored by Sen. Donzella James (D-Atlanta), this resolution would create the Senate Electroshock Therapy Study Committee.