Capitol Watch: Legislative Day 35

Legislative Day 35

It’s been a busy week at the State Capitol with many twist and turns as we see the legislative session
and term make its way to the end. We’ve seen many bills placed on other bills and an attempt to get
them passed this year. We will be on high alert in the remaining days. Please watch for alerts as we
close out the session.

Action This Week

Optometric Injection Training – SB 382 by Sen. PK Martin – provides for consultation by the
Department of Public Health on optometric training courses. – PASSED HOUSE – HEADS TO

Georgia’s Employment First Act – HB 831 by Rep. Bill Werkhesier – Establishes the
Employment First Georgia Council for all working age citizens with disabilities. – PASSED

Health Coordination & Innovation Council of the State – SB 357 – Sen. Dean Burke, MD –
Would coordinate health planning and services of all relative state agencies. – PASSED HOUSE –
Heads to Senate for an Agree to House changes

Long-Term Care Background Checks – SB 406 by Sen. Brian Strickland – requires
background checks for all personnel. PASSED HOUSE – Heads to Senate for an Agree to
House changes

Micro Hospitals – HB 769 by Rep. Rick Jasperse – CON Reform or Repeal dropped from the bill)
This bill reflects the House Rural Development Council recommendations on health care, and among
other things allows for micro hospitals. PASSED SENATE – Heads back to House for an
Agree to Senate changes

CON Reform – Several attempts this week to amend and/or to substitute CON to bills dealing with
Cancer Treatment Centers of America, mental health and drug treatment centers and Andrews
Sports Medicine – ALL FAILED, we expect more action next week

Bill Substitutions (legislation that has been added to other legislation)

Surprise Billing – SB 8, from the 2017 session, was amended with the language from HB 678
(Passed earlier this session). The Senate has acted on this matter. The House Insurance Committee
Chairman will not give, SB 359 a hearing which is the comprehensive legislative fix to out of
network billing.

Harm Reduction/Needle Exchange – HB 161 by Rep. Betty Price, MD. Amended in Senate
Health – and now includes – SB 352 by Sen. Renee Unterman – to establish a commission on
substance abuse and recovery and to provide for a fraudulent insurance act for the excessive high
tech or fraudulent drug testing of certain individuals.

Interstate Physicians Compact – SB 325 – Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, MD Amended in House
Health – the bill is now HB 519 – Rep. Sharon Cooper – Addresses the health insurance protocol
requiring that certain medications be tried first. Also included HB 646 – Rep. Katie Dempsey – This
bill continues the State Health Benefit Plan Pilot for Bariatric Surgery.

APRN Protocol and Supervision (FORMERLY Independent Practice) – SB 351 by Sen.
Renee Unterman – AMENDED to allow for expanded supervision only – no RXING authority.
House Health – Action Unlikely ***** Chairman Renee Unterman has added the
language from SB 351 to the HB 927 by Rep. Chad Nimmer.

Looking Ahead

1013 Records Purge / Weapons Concealed Carry License Waiver – HB 999 by Rep.
Christian Coomer – strips GA provision of a records purge of a 1013 for purposes of obtaining a gun
and passing a gun background check. Senate Rules

Out of Network Reform – SB 359, by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler – Addresses surprise/out of network
billing and reflects the collective efforts of the Medical Association of Georgia and a board coalition
of physician specialties. House Insurance – No Hearing Expected

Step Therapy – HB 519 by Rep. Sharon Cooper – Addresses the health insurance protocol
requiring that certain medications be tried first. Senate Health – Language added to SB 325

PTSD / THC Oil / Marijuana – HB 764 by Rep. David Clark – allows for small quantities of Low
THC oil to be distributed and dispensed to those with PTSD. Senate Health – Action Unlikely

Distracted Driving – HB 673 by Rep. John Carson – prohibits actions which distract a driver
while operating a motor vehicle. Senate Judiciary – Action Expected

Credit Card Payments from Insurers – HB 818 by Rep. Lee Hawkins – allows the provider an
option on payment method by the insurance carriers. Senate Rules

State Nursing Board Transfer to DCH – SB 334 by Sen. Renee Unterman- move the nursing
board from under the Secretary of State’s Office to DCH, much like the Composite Medical Board.
House Health – Action Unlikely

The Georgia Department of Public Health held its monthly meeting this past Tuesday, March 13th,

Board Members Present:
Cindy Mercer, MD Vice Chair
Robert Harshman, MD
Kathryn Cheek, MD
James Curran, MD
John Haupert, FACHE


There was not a quorum, board minutes were not adopted.

1. Cherie Drenzek, D.V.M., M.S. gave the commissioners report. Dr. O’Neal is in DC.
Flu activity has decreased in the last few weeks. ED visits for the flu were at 16% now they
are 4%. Hospital admissions are now 4% for the flu. We have had 127 deaths and they expect
that number to increase because of reporting delays. The flu is not over yet.

2. Kaitlyn Kopp, MPH presented the legislative update.
The department’s bills: a. HB 782 PDMP is in senate Health and likely to pass and b. HB
909 birthing hospitals is on the senate floor tomorrow.
Other bills of the department’s interest are: SB 357, HB 769, SB 352, HB 996 integrated data
among agencies, HB 764 and SB 420

3. Twanna Nelson, M.C.H. and Anita Brown, Ph.D. presented Evidence Based Home
Visiting: a power point presentation was given

4. Dionne Denson , M.S.A. and LaToya Osmani, M.P.H. presented Enterprise System
Modernization. A power point presentation was giving. For the WIC program there will be
no more paper vouchers. An electronic benefits card will be issued.

Please let us know if you have any questions!