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

CALENDAR

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 House Chamber passed the following pieces of legislation this week:

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 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 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 109 – Sen. Michael Williams (R-Cumming) authored this legislation, which would enact the “Recognition of Emergency Medical Services Personnel Licensure Interstate Compact,” also known as REPLICA. The bill would facilitate the day-to-day movement of EMS personnel across state boundaries. The compact recognizes that states have a vested interest in protecting the public’s health and safety through shared licensing and regulation of EMS personnel. An amendment was adopted on the floor adding SB 166, The Nurse Licensure Compact Bill.

The Senate Chamber also passed the following bills:

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 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 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.

COMMITTEE NOTES

House Health and Human Services Committee

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

SB 4 – Sponsored by Sen. Unterman (R-Buford), this piece of legislation would create the Georgia Mental Health Treatment Task Force. The task force would examine the insurance coverage status of patients affected by serious mental illness and substance abuse disorders. The bill would also allow the task force to develop an application for a Section 1115 Medicaid waiver targeted at mental illness and substance abuse disorders. The bill was amended in the Senate Committee to add additional members to the task force from each of the following entities: one member from an acute care hospital that maintains in-patient psychiatric beds, one member from a free standing psychiatric institution, and one member from a Community Service Board. It was further amended in the House to add a practicing psychiatrist to the task force.

In House Rules, the bill was voted to be sent back to the House Committee to further amend the task force.

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 88 – Authored by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga), this piece of legislation relates to the regulation of narcotic treatment programs and would create the Narcotic Treatment Programs Enforcement Act and would give the Department of Community Health the ability to create quality standards and services for narcotic treatment programs. It would also establish a biannual open enrollment period to accept applications for such programs. The bill is scheduled to be taken up on the House Floor on Monday of next week.

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 in certain locations. The bill is also scheduled to be heard on the House Floor on Monday of next week.

Senate Health and Human Services Committee

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee passed the following pieces of legislation on Thursday:

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 241 – Sponsored by Rep. Lee Hawkins (R-Gainesville), this bill would add Krabbe disease to the list of metabolic and genetic conditions for which newborn screening may be conducted.

HB 249 – Authored by Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville), this bill would change the frequency of reporting Schedule II controlled substances. The prescriber would not have to check the PDMP if:

  • The prescription is for a three-day supply of such substance and less than 26 pills;
  • The patient is an inpatient in a hospital or health care facility, such as a nursing home;
  • The patient is in an outpatient hospice program; or
  • The patient is under long-term care for cancer.

The committee substitute combined the language with SB 241. This language would move the PDMP from the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency to the Department of Public Health. It would also provide for the department’s authority to continue the maintenance and development of the electronic data base of prescription information.

HB 427 – Authored by Rep. Mark Newton (R-Augusta), this piece of legislation would expand the service cancelable loan program for physicians in underserved areas to other health care practitioners.

HB 486 – Authored by Rep. Tommy Benton (R-Jefferson), this piece of legislation would provide for select providers to train proxy caregivers in accordance with selected curriculum. The curriculum would be selected by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities.

SR 352 – Authored by Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford), this resolution would create the Senate Study Committee on Homelessness.

The Georgia Trauma Commission also gave a very brief report to the committee. They were asked to come back over the summer to give a more in-depth report to the committee.

House Judiciary (Civil) Kelley Subcommittee

The House Judiciary (Civil) Kelley Subcommittee passed SB 222 on Monday of this week. Sponsored by Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon), this piece of legislation would create the Local Government 9-1-1 Authority and would change certain provisions relating to the remittance of 9-1-1 charges. Currently, prepaid wireless phone service plans require a 75 cent fee every time a user buys more days. With the legislation, the fee would double to $1.05. The proposed increase should raise about $18 million in new money annually for the state’s 9-1-1 systems.

House Industry and Labor Committee

The House Industry and Labor Committee also passed SB 201 on Monday. 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.

Senate Veterans, Military and Homeland Security

The Senate Veterans, Military and Homeland Security passed HB 322 earlier this week. Authored by Rep. Bill Hitchens (R-Rincon), this bill would change the definition of the term “war veterans” by altering the discharge date from May 7, 1975 to August 1, 1990.

Senate Education and Youth Committee

The Senate Education and Youth Committee passed HB 198 this week. Sponsored by Rep. Katie Dempsey (R-Rome), this piece of legislation would require schools to include information from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices related to influenza should schools provide such information to parents or guardians of students.

House Judiciary Non-Civil Setzler Subcommittee

The House Judiciary Non-Civil Setzler Subcommittee passed the following pieces of legislation:

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.

Senate Insurance and Labor Committee

The Senate Insurance and Labor Committee passed HB 64 this week. Authored by Rep. Shaw Blackmon (R-Bonaire), this bill would require insurance carriers that sell health insurance through an insurance agent to provide the agent with a commission.

House Insurance Committee

The House Insurance Committee passed the following bills this week:

SB 206 – Authored by Sen. P.K. Martin (R-Lawrenceville), this piece of legislation would require health plans to provide coverage for hearing aids for children 18 years of age or younger. An amendment was adopted changing the date from July 1, 2017 to January 1, 2018 to allow the insurance companies time to make the proper adjustments. The bill is scheduled to be heard on the House Floor on Monday of next week.

SB 200 – This bill, authored by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome), would provide for synchronizing patients’ chronic medications. The bill is also scheduled to be heard on the House Floor on Monday of next week.

House Ways and Means Income Tax Subcommittee

The House Ways and Means Income Tax Subcommittee passed the following pieces of legislation:

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 tax credit would be for $10,000 or 70 percent of the actual amount expended, whichever is less. The bill was amended in committee to change the population threshold for rural communities to the federal definition. The current state definition is 35,000 and the amendment would increase the population number to 50,000. A second amendment was adopted, raising the donation credit percentage from 70 percent to 90 percent.

SB 180 – Authored by Sen. Dean Burke (R-Bainbridge), this piece of legislation relates to the Rural Hospital Tax Credit and 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.

The bill was also amended in committee to change the definition of a rural community from the state definition to the federal definition.

Senate Judiciary Committee

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed HB 231 on Thursday. Authored by Rep. Bruce Broadrick (R-Dalton), this piece of legislation is the annual dangerous drug update bill, which includes fentanyl. The bill was amended in committee to add HB 30, authored by Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville). The language would add a synthetic opioid to Schedule I controlled substances.

House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee

The House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee passed the following the bills on Friday:

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.

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.

SR 307 – Authored by Sen. Unterman (R-Buford), this resolution would create the Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking Joint Task Force.