The Georgia General Assembly gaveled in for three days this week. While not many bills were heard on the House or Senate Floors, a multitude were taken up in committee. Below are some highlights from this week under the Gold Dome provided by our associates at Frogue Clark Public Affairs:  

CALENDAR

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 (Sine Die)

 FLOOR NOTES

The Senate Chamber passed HB 127 this week. 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).

The House Chamber also passed the following pieces of legislation this week:

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.

SB 102 – Sponsored by Sen. Butch Miller (R-Gainesville), this bill would allow for the designation of emergency cardiac care centers and establish an Office of Cardiac Care within the Department of Public Health.

COMMITTEE NOTES

Senate Finance Committee

The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on HB 301 Tuesday afternoon. 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.

House Judiciary Civil Committee

SB 71 – Authored by Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro), this piece of legislation would add assets in health savings accounts and medical savings accounts to the list of property that is exempt from bankruptcy. The bill passed out of subcommittee earlier in the week.

Senate Public Safety Committee

The Senate Public Safety Committee passed the following pieces of legislation this week:

HB 149 – Authored by Rep. Alan Powell (R-Hartwell), this bill would provide for the comprehensive regulation of trauma scene cleanup services and regulated waste transport.

HB 405 –  Sponsored by Rep. Bill Hitchens (R-Rincon), this piece of legislation relates to the emergency powers of the Governor and would require the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency to establish a state-wide system to facilitate the transport and distribution of essentials in commerce during a state of emergency declared by the Governor.

Senate Health and Human Services Committee

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

HB 157 – Sponsored by Rep. Trey Kelley (R-Cedartown), this piece of legislation would revise certain criteria for certain certifying organizations as they relate to advertising or publicizing of medical specialty certification.

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.

SR 188 – Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) authored this resolution, which would create the Senate Study Committee on barriers to Georgians’ Access to Adequate Healthcare.

House Health and Human Services Committee

The House Health and Human Services Committee passed the following bills this week:

SB 47 – Authored by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome), this bill would provide for a licensure exemption for visiting sports teams’ physicians to allow for a teams’ physician, physician assistant or athletic trainer to administer services to their team. The physician would be prohibited from practicing at a health care clinic or health care facility, including an acute care facility, while traveling with the team.

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.

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

Senate Insurance and Labor Committee

The Senate Insurance and Labor Committee passed the following bills this week:

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.

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.

HB 276 – Sponsored by Rep. David Knight (R-Griffin), this piece of legislation would authorize the Commissioner of Insurance to promulgate certain rules and regulations related to licensure of pharmacy benefits managers and would prohibit pharmacy benefits managers from requiring the use of mail-order pharmacies under certain conditions.

House Industry and Labor Committee

The House Industry and Labor Committee passed SB 201 this week. 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.

House Insurance Committee

The House Insurance Committee passed the following bills this week:

SB 103 – Authored by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga), this bill would authorize the Commissioner of Insurance to promulgate certain rules and regulations and to examine and investigate certain matters with regard to pharmacy benefits managers. It would also prohibit pharmacy benefits managers from requiring the use of mail-order pharmacies under certain conditions.

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.  

House Life and Health Subcommittee of the Insurance Committee

The House Life and Health Subcommittee passed two pieces of legislation this week, both of which will move to the full House Insurance Committee for consideration.

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

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.

House Judiciary Non-Civil Setzler Subcommittee

The House Judiciary Non-Civil Setzler Subcommittee held a hearing on the following pieces of legislation:

SB 121 – Sponsored by Sen. Butch Miller (R-Gainesville), this piece of legislation would allow pharmacists to dispense opioid antagonists to people pursuant to a statewide standing order. It would also reschedule Naloxone from the list of dangerous drugs to a Schedule V Controlled Substance. Rep. Betty Price (R-Rosewell) offered an amendment to the legislation to add HB 161, the needle exchange legislation.

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. A substitute was offered during the subcommittee, adding APRNs to the list of authorized delegators.

Senate Judiciary Committee

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed HB 213 on Thursday this week. Sponsored by Rep. Rich Golick (R-Smyrna), this bill would prohibit the sale or possession of four grams or more of fentanyl.

The committee also heard HB 231, authored by Rep. Bruce Broadrick (R-Dalton). This piece of legislation is the annual dangerous drug update bill, which includes fentanyl. It also adds a synthetic opioid to Schedule I controlled substances (HB 30).

NEW LEGISLATION

HB 536 – Authored by Rep. Trey Kelley (R-Cedartown), this piece of legislation relates to emergency medical services, so as to revise provisions relating to services which may be rendered by emergency medical technicians and the use of automated external defibrillators. The bill would also eliminate obsolete language relating to base station facilities.

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

HR 468 – Authored by Rep. Karen Bennett (D-Stone Mountain), this resolution would create the House Study Committee on Health in Georgia.

SR 392 – Sen. David Lucas (D-Macon) authored this resolution, which would create the Senate Rural Georgia Study Committee.