Archive for June, 2016

May’s Public Health Webinars are now on the GAFP Website

May 12th’s Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Screening and May 20th’s Developmental Screening Webinars from the Department of Public Health are now available on the GAFP website.

May 12th DPH Webinar: Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Screening, is available!
  •  Identify the rational for performing newborn screening for SCID/T cell lyphopenia
  • Understand the next steps for testing after an abnormal screening test is reported
  • Identify other non-SCID disorders that may be detected by this screening test
To participate in this activity, click here:
May 20th DPH Webinar: Developmental Screening, is available!
  • Review rates of developmental disabilities 
  • Understand that early identification and intervention leads to improved outcomes
  • List developmental and Autism Screening recommendations
  • Review Georgia EPSDT recommendations for screening
  • Understand challenges to screening in practice
  • List referral resources for further evaluation
  • Review developmental monitoring and screening resources
To participate in this activity, click here:

Legislative Update- Wrap Up 2016 Session

Family Physicians Score Increases to Key Primary Care Codes for Medicaid!

Budget: The Governor signed a budget for 2017 fiscal year with a spending plan of $24 billion starting in July. It includes 32 key primary care codes that will be increased to the 2014 Medicare rate. These codes will be increased from between 11 percent to a high of 135 percent. This is a major victory for family physicians, our primary care physician and obstetrical/gynecologist colleagues. Increases for Amerigroup, WellCare and PeachState/Centene will begin on July 1, 2016. Increases for Fee for Service will begin after the Department of Community Health receives approval from CMS (6-8 month delay).

Tax Credit for Rural Hospitals SB 258

The General Assembly passed a bill that will allow an individual or corporation to get a state tax credit for donating money to a rural health care organization. The tax credit could help 39 rural hospitals that fit the criteria listed in the legislation. Four rural hospitals have closed in Georgia since the beginning of 2013. A fifth, Hutcheson Medical Center in Fort Oglethorpe, briefly closed in December before reopening in a downsized format.

The amount of tax credits available was lowered from $100 million annually to $50 million in the first year, 2017. The amount for the second year will be $60 million, and for the third year, $70 million.

The receiving organization must be a nonprofit, must treat patients who are indigent or on Medical or Medicare, and must be located in a rural county.

Continued Support for New Family Medicine Residency Programs: $1.14 million added for 72 new residency slots in primary care medicine. Many of these slots will include family medicine residencies in hospitals that are creating new programs.

Prescription Drug Monitoring Program House Bill 900will make it easier for family physicians and other clinicians to appropriately use the Georgia Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. This bill will allow the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) to be fully utilized by clinicians and to allow for physicians and their designated clinical staff to identify patients who may have an addiction to prescription pain medications. This was one of the Georgia Academy’s key legislative initiatives!

Georgia Lactation Consultant Practice Act HB 649creates an advisory committee and process for licensure for lactation consultants. This will allow for licensed lactation consultants to be certified by the state and paid by Medicaid for their services. This has been a five year initiative that the Georgia Academy has continuously supported.

Savings Accounts for Disabled Citizens HB 768: The General Assembly also approved saving accounts for people with disabilities to help them live independently and not lose their Medicaid health insurance or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  The savings could pay for qualified expenses such as housing, transportation, education and personal support services.

Fireworks HB 727: This bill limits the usage of fireworks after a certain time. Prior to this people could use fireworks up until 2 am on New Year’s and July 4th, and 12 midnight on all other days. With this law the cut off time is 1 am for New Years and July 4th, and 9 pm for all other days. Revises provisions around fireworks in the state, including prohibiting use near electric plants, water and wastewater treatment plants, hospitals, nursing homes, other health care facilities, property owned or operated for counties and cities, and at public gatherings when a law enforcement agency or local fire department determines that the use of fireworks is not in the interest of public safety.

The Georgia Academy has continued to express concern about child safety related to use of fireworks.

Minors and HIV HB 1058: Allows a minor who is or professes to be at risk for HIV to consent to medical or surgical care or services by a hospital, public clinic, or physician. The bill also eliminates the requirement that the Department of Public Health develop AIDS and HIV counseling brochures, revises a provision relating to exposure of  a health care provider to a potentially HIV-infected person, and makes disclosure to a parent or legal guardian of a minor’s AIDS confidential information permissive rather than mandatory.

Medicaid Expansion

State Senate Creates a Study Committee on Premium Assistance Programs

Senator Michael Rhett (Marietta) sponsored Senate Resolution 1056 to create a Study Committee and have the Senate Research Office look into premium assistance programs that could be an alternative to Medicaid expansion. This Study Committee, if appointed by the President of the Senate, will designate up to six members of the Senate. This Committee will have completed its work and submitted its report by the end of the year.

Georgia Chamber of Commerce Access to Health Care Task Force

The Georgia Academy is supporting the Chamber’s Health Care Task Force that has brought business and the health care community to look at alternative solutions to Medicaid expansion. Dr. Rick Wherry, GAFP Past President and Co-Chair of the Legislative Committee, is serving on this Task Force. Alternative solutions to Medicaid expansion will be brought forward for review and discussion by the end of the year, for potential implementation in 2018.

Vetoed Legislation

Campus Carry HB 859: This bill would have permitted the concealed carrying of guns on college campuses. It would have allowed anyone 21 and older to carry guns anywhere on campus except for athletic facilities, sorority and fraternity houses, and dormitories. The Governor vetoed this legislation and it will not become state law.

Religious Liberty HB 757: This bill established provisions around the exercise of religion. The legislation was extremely controversial. Interpretations of the bill’s language and intent vary. The Georgia Academy remained opposed to the legislation over concerns about patients being denied access to care based on perceived lifestyle choices.

Bills that did not pass:

Changing Preceptor Tax Deduction to Tax Credit HB 997

The current PTIP program was implemented in July 2014 and offers up to a $10,000 deduction for precepting medical/osteopathic, APRN, or PA students. Eligible recipients are licensed physicians in the state of Georgia. The efforts to change this program from a tax deduction to tax credit did not receive a hearing in the House Ways & Means Committee and therefore died on Crossover Day.

Expedited Therapy for Sexually Transmitted Diseases HB 813: Sexual partners of patients diagnosed with chlamydia or gonorrhea may receive ‘expedited partner therapy’ (a prescription for the sexual partner or partners for antibiotic drugs) without a physical examination.

Medical Marijuana HB 722: This bill would have legalized the use of medical marijuana for certain diseases and disorders. It passed the House, but did not receive a hearing in the Senate. It would have legalized medical marijuana usage for conditions such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, AIDs, seizure-related disorders, autism, and Tourette’s syndrome. The Georgia Academy recommends the use of medical marijuana only for the medical conditions where evidence based research has been proven that cannabis improves a specific condition.

Georgia Healthy Family Alliance Awards $10,500 in Community Health Grants

The Georgia Healthy Family Alliance Awards $10,500 in Second Cycle 2016 Community Health Grants To Support Good Works of GAFP Members

The Georgia Healthy Family Alliance (GHFA) awarded three Community Health Grant Award applicants $10,500 in second cycle 2016 grants.  Grant awards were made to GAFP member affiliated organizations that support GHFA program priorities including underserved populations and outreach programs that promote healthy practices consistent with the principles of Family Medicine. The application deadline for first cycle 2017 grants is February 1, 2017. Visit for more information or to download the application. The 2016 second cycle Community Health Grant Recipients are:

“Family Medicine Weight Loss Initiative”, Gwinnett Strickland Family Medicine  Residency Program, GA $3,500   

The prevalence of obesity in Gwinnett is profound. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) of Wisconsin estimates an obesity prevalence of 32.1% in females and 31.2 % in males in Gwinnett County and these numbers continue to rise. Physical activity plays an invaluable role in the prevention and treatment of obesity and has been shown to reduce the risk of these chronic conditions. Our residents routinely educate patients on obesity, but more needs to be done to promote healthy lifestyle changes in this overwhelmingly underserved population which has limited resources. Grant funds will provide Activity Trackers to patients with a BMI of greater than 30 who are at risk or have obesity-related co-morbidities such as diabetes and heart disease.  These patients will have once a month visits with residents for weight management education and guidance, including review of exercise trends for the month, a written exercise prescription recommendation, weight monitoring, BMI waist circumference and nutritional counseling. Specific patient numbers may vary but target patient goal will be roughly 270 patients.    

“Adult Disability Medical Home,” Urban Family Practice, Marietta, GA $3500

ADMH serves patients and families at Urban Family Practice Associates which has achieved Level 3 certification as a Patient Centered Medical Home. In identifying vulnerable and underserved patient populations, we recognize that adolescents and adults with Down Syndrome and other developmental disabilities are best served by the patient centered medical home model. We believe that there are no such programs currently operating within the framework of an existing Patient Centered Medical Home through a private family practice. Approximately 65% of our patients are from metropolitan Atlanta, 25% from rural Georgia and 10% from other neighboring states or moving to Georgia.  Patient ages range from those transitioning in their teens/early twenties to those beginning to show loss of functioning in late 30’s and 40’s and beyond. Currently, our youngest patient is 12 years old, and our oldest is 70.

UFP recently piloted a group visit workshop that focused on nutrition and exercise.  This grant will extend this concept and provide 3 workshops through the next year. The UFP team will provide a minimum of three education sessions (two centered toward persons with disabilities and one centered to their primary caregivers). The workshops will focus on skills that enhance independent living.

“Get Screened: Preventing Colon Cancer” Mercy Health Center, $3,500

This year, approximately 140,000 new cases will be diagnosed and more than 50,000 deaths will be caused by colorectal cancer. The real tragedy is that colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the most preventable forms of cancer, and thousands of these deaths could be avoided through routine colorectal screening. When colorectal cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, the five-year survival rate is 90 percent. However, this rate drops to 13 percent when colorectal cancer is not diagnosed and has metastasized. Large disparities exist in access to colorectal cancer screening and treatment. Today the incidence rate of CRC is higher for African Americans than for white men and women, and the mortality rate is 40 percent higher. Less than 20 percent of uninsured individuals will undergo CRC screening, which is a significantly smaller percentage than those who have health care coverage. Funds from the Georgia Healthy Family Alliance will help provide screening and diagnostic testing for the uninsured population served by Mercy Health Center in Athens/Clarke County and the 5 surrounding counties. The funds are earmarked for immunoassay fecal occult screening for patients who are determined to be at high risk of developing colorectal cancer. Additionally, it will allow Mercy to better prioritize the patients who are seen for colonoscopies.

These are only a few of the important programs your colleagues are lending their talents and time to statewide!  Please consider making a contribution so that the Alliance can continue to support important projects like these. All donations are tax deductible. Make your Alliance contribution easily online at or contact Alliance staff at or calling(800) 392-3841.

Reeves Gears up for 2016 AAFP Board of Directors Election


 Although the presidential election grabs much of the spotlight this year, keep an important AAFP election on your radar as well.

Earlier this year, the Georgia Academy announced the nomination of its own Leonard Reeves, MD, FAAFP as a candidate for the AAFP Board of Directors. With that nomination, the chapter declared that Reeves’ unique background gave him invaluable tools for responding to the changing healthcare atmosphere on the national, state and local levels.

Reeves built solid careers as a radio broadcaster and public school teacher before returning to medical school at the age of 38. These media skills benefit a board position where both internal and external communication is key. Georgia Academy members witnessed this firsthand as Reeves guided the state chapter in the challenging months following passage of the Affordable Care Act.

“Each of us – no matter where or how we practice today – didn’t want to be stuck in a lab or see patients briefly, then never again,” Reeves said in his personal statement recently published by the AAFP. “We want ‘family’ in our title. These things that pull us together, keep other forces from tearing us apart.”


Reeves notes that payment schedules, recertification and training the next generation of family physicians continue to be principal issues for family physicians. Reeves would also like to see family physicians prominent in shaping how the nation deals with the looming crisis of a growing diabetic population. Reeves feels he can uniquely speak on this issue not only a family physician, but also as an insulin-dependent diabetic.


“Lawmakers know the rising number of diabetic patients is a gigantic topic – and an issue eagerly covered by the media,” Reeves said. “It involves public health, coordination of chronic care, economics and, at the essential core, our culture. It’s vital for our patients that family physicians play a leading role determining how healthcare policy will shape diabetes care.”


Reeves also believes changing healthcare delivery systems and expanding healthcare technology require a renewed emphasis on physician-patient connections during training. Reeves founded the new Clinical Campus of the Medical College of Georgia in Rome (Northwest Georgia), which stresses patient relationships through a longitudinal training design.


“Students follow patients for a year to see how healthcare, or the lack of it, impacts a person’s life,” Reeves said describing the program. “I often tell them you can’t follow a pregnant woman to term in six weeks … it takes a little longer.”


We urge you to actively follow this campaign and support Reeves in his efforts to steer national leadership. Please review his campaign materials on the Georgia Academy’s website here: or the American Academy website here:


Elections for the AAFP Board of Directors takes place this year on September 21 in Orlando. Please contact Alesa McArthur (email: at the Georgia Academy if you’re planning on attending the 2016 American Academy of Family Physicians Congress of Delegates as we would love to have you as part of Team Georgia (September 19-21).

Member Access to June Board Minutes and Leadership Decisions

In an effort to keep GAFP members more informed of Board decisions, members can now access the June Board minutes.

Even though major activities tend to be reported in our newsletter, members may keep track of leadership decisions and adherence to the GAFP mission and strategic plan by reviewing quarterly Board minutes via a simple request to staff. If you are interested in obtaining a copy of the GAFP Board minutes, please contact the staff by email at Only GAFP members have the privilege to review the GAFP’s Board of Director minutes.