The 2017 legislative session is coming to an end with only two more legislative days left. Below you will find some highlights from this week under the Gold Dome.

CALENDAR

Day 39 Tuesday, March 28
Day 40 Thursday, March 30 (Sine Die)

FLOOR NOTES

SB 52 – Sponsored by Sen. P.K. Martin (R-Lawrenceville), this bill would remove the sunset provision in current law, which allows licensed professional counselors to sign a 1013.

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. It is known as the Family Care Act.

SB 242 – Sponsored by Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford), this piece of legislation would provide for an exception to the number of advanced practice registered nurses with which a delegating physician can enter into a protocol agreement at any one time for nurses. Physicians may have no more than 10 protocol agreements at one time and may not supervise more than four APRNs at one time.

The Senate Chamber also passed the following:

HB 249 – Authored by Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville), this bill would change the frequency of reporting Schedule II controlled substances to the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP). It would also allow for a standing order issued by the State Health Officer for Naloxone distribution by licensed pharmacists to patients without prescriptions.

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.

BUDGET

The House and Senate agreed to the conference committee report this week and the FY2018 budget has been sent to the Governor for his signature. Below are some changes that were made to Senate’s version of the budget:

Department of Community Health

House Health and Human Services Committee

The House Health and Human Services Committee passed the following pieces of legislation this week:

SB 4 – Sponsored by Sen. Unterman (R-Buford), this piece of legislation would create the Georgia Mental Health Treatment Task Force and the Georgia Mental Health Treatment Advisory Council. Both would examine the insurance coverage status of patients affected by serious mental illness and substance abuse disorders. The bill would also allow these entities to develop an application for a Section 1115 Medicaid waiver targeted at mental illness and substance abuse disorders. The bill was amended in the House Committee to have the council consist of 21 nonvoting members to be appointed by the Governor. Appointees include the commissioner of public safety or his or her designee; a board licensed psychiatrist practicing in an acute care hospital that maintains in-patient psychiatric beds; a licensed professional counselor; a licensed emergency medical technician or paramedic; among others.

SB 40 – Sponsored by Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford), this piece of legislation would expand the current law to authorize emergency medical services personnel to transport certain mentally ill patients under certain circumstances. The bill substitute added language to require that each physician that orders a transport must also have the capacity to treat the patient and may not divert the patient to another facility. A sunset date of December 31, 2019 was also added.

SB 41 – Authored by Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford), this piece of legislation would provide for the licensure of durable medical equipment suppliers.

SB 106 – Authored by Sen. Greg Kirk (R-Americus), this bill would address the licensure requirements for pain management clinics and would remove the administration of anesthesia by a certified registered nurse anesthetist from current law.

SB 193 – Authored by Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford), this bill relates to the Positive Alternatives for Pregnancy and Parenting Grant Program. HB 360 was added to the bill in 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.

HR 431 – Authored by Rep. Scot Turner (R-Holly Springs), this resolution would create the House Study Committee on the Ramifications of Changes in Federal Health Care Policy. Chairman Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta) struck the study committee and established a Health and Human Services Subcommittee to potentially meet over the Fall.

HR 446 – Sponsored by Rep. William Boddie (D-East Point), this resolution would create the Johnny Tolbert III House Study Committee on Heatstroke.

HR 464 – Authored by Rep. Betty Price (R-Roswell), this resolution would create the House Study Committee on Infectious Disease Preparedness.

HR 627 – Authored by Rep. Paulette Rakestraw (R-Powder Springs), this resolution would create the House Study Committee on Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Funding Mechanisms. The bill was amended in committee to remove the word “addiction” and replace it with “substance abuse.” It was noted in the committee that this bill would move forward should SB 4 be held up in Rules.

Senate Health and Human Services Committee

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee passed the following pieces of legislation this week:

HB 154 – Authored by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta), this bill would authorize a licensed dental hygienist to perform certain functions under general supervision in certain settings. The bill passed by substitute.

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.

House Insurance Committee

The House Insurance Committee passed two pieces of legislation Monday morning:

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’ insurer does not cover. It would also 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 substitute would prohibit physicians from balance billing patients for emergency services if the insurer paid the greater of either the insurer’s network rate, the insurer’s standard reimbursement of out-of-service network, or the Medicare rate.

SB 50 – Authored by Sen. Hunter Hill (R-Atlanta), this piece of legislation would allow for direct primary care agreements between physicians and patients (concierge medicine). These agreements would not be considered insurance.

House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee

The House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee passed the following pieces of legislation this week:

SB 99 – Sponsored by Sen. Elena Parent (D-Atlanta), this piece of legislation would provide for a judicial procedure for purging a person’s involuntary hospitalization information received by the center.

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.

House Ways and Means Committee

SB 14 – Sen. Dean Burke (R-Bainbridge) authored this bill, which aims to clarify the income tax credit amount a ‘S’ corporation would receive for contributions made to rural hospitals. The donation credit percentage would also be raised to 90% from 70% in the original bill. The bill was amended in subcommittee to increase the population threshold for rural areas to comply with the Federal definition, which is 50,000. The current state definition is 35,000.

SB 180 – Also authored by Sen. Dean Burke (R-Bainbridge), this bill would create a grant mechanism for “rural hospital organizations” which would be determined by the Department of Community Health. The bill was amended in subcommittee to increase the population threshold for rural areas to comply with the Federal definition, which is 50,000 (state definition is 35,000). In the House Rules Committee, an amendment was adopted to cap administrative fees at 3%. HB 301 was also attached to the bill. HB 301, authored by Rep. Jodi Lott (R-Evans), 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 Finance Committee

The Senate Finance Committee passed HB 196, authored by Rep. Matt Dollar (R-Marietta). The bill was amended with the language from SB 180, authored by Sen. Dean Burke (R-Bainbridge). SB 180 would change the Rural Hospital Tax Credit percentage from 70% to 80% as well as increase the amount expended to $5,000 for a single filer and $10,000 for a married couple. The legislation also contains the ‘S’ corporation language from SB 14.

House Small Business Development Committee

The House Small Business Development Committee tabled SB 2 once again. Authored by Sen. Dugan (R-Carrollton), this piece of legislation would enhance accountability and notice requirements for agency rule making so as to reduce regulatory burdens on businesses.