The Second Session of the 156th Georgia General Assembly gaveled the end of the session, Sine Die, on Monday, April 4. All bills that did not pass both the House and Senate are dead. The bills that did pass both chambers now move to the Governor’s desk for his consideration and signature. The Governor has 40 days to sign or veto bills. We will continue to monitor these bills through the mid-May deadline. For the bills that become law, state agencies will then begin to issue regulations to support the new law. A new legislative session (two-years/biennial) will start next year on Monday, January 9, 2023.
Session Wins – Key Initiatives:
- $81 million added to the State Budget for Fiscal Year 2023 (begins July 1, 2022) to bring 108 codes (most commonly used by primary care physicians) up to 2018 Medicare rates. House Bill 911
- Provide funds to increase select Obstetrical and Gynecological codes (59400, 59510, 59610, 59618) to 2020 Medicare reimbursement levels. House Bill 911
- Mental Health Parity Act (House Bill 1013) – Includes sweeping reform for behavioral health including mental health insurance parity and loan forgiveness for primary care and psychiatric physicians. It will also mandate an 85 percent minimum medical loss ratio (MLR) requirement for Medicaid insurance plans. The bill was signed by Governor Kemp on April 4, 2022.
- Expanding Medicaid Coverage for Post-Partum Women from Six Months to 12 Months –SB 338 The funding for this expansion of $28.2 million has been included in the 2023 budget.
- Tort Reform – Allows for evidence of a non-party’s fault and authorize apportionment of damages in single-defendant lawsuits – House Bill 961
- Scope of Practice- No advancement of independent practice by non-physician clinicians occurred during this session
Additional Bills We Supported/ Opposed:
House Bill 369 which included numerous expansions for APRNs, and PAs – did not pass.
House Bill 430 would have allowed APRNs and PAs to fill out documentation for a patient to apply for license plates and parking permits for those with disabilities – did not pass.
Public Health – Include Vaping in State Indoor Smoking Act – House Bill 1348 House Bill 1348, which if passed, would add “vaping” as an additional smoking device that is outlawed in code from the 20005 Indoor Smoking Act. This bill passed the House (149-12) on March 3rd and was one of the many bills left “on the table” on the last day of the session. This bill, unfortunately, did not pass.
Administrative Relief – Removal of Prior Authorizations for Chronic Medications – Senate Bill 341 The Georgia Academy voted to support passage of Senate Bill 341, sponsored by Senator Kay Kirkpatrick, MD. This will mandate insurance plans to forgo prior authorization for chronic medications. This would be for non-ERISA (federally exempt) insurance plans as the State cannot enact changes to ERISA Insurance plans. This bill did pass.
Medical Malpractice Legislative Relief Bills – House Bill 807 and House Bill 961 House Bill 961, which the Academy supported, along with a large coalition, including the trial attorneys and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce would restore apportioning of damages to all responsible parties. This bill passed and is pending the Governor’s signature. The Academy also supported House Bill 807 (CANDOR – Communication & Optimum Resolution). This bill, if passed, would have allowed there to be pre-litigation between the medical community and patients if there has been a perceived harm during treatment. This bill did not pass.
COVID Vaccine exemption (Senate Bill 345) prohibits state and local governments and their agencies from mandating COVID-19 vaccine passports for any services or access to any facility. The law will cease to be in effect on June 30, 2023, and does not apply if compliance is required by CMS regulations.
Death Certificates (Senate Bill 496) requires a medical examiner’s inquiry after the death of a pregnant women or a women who has been pregnant within 365 days prior and would also define the term “unattended by a physician” for the purposes of a medical examiner’s inquiry as a patient who has not been seen by a physician within 180 days for a condition or illness likely to have cause or contributed to such individual’s death. This bill passed and is pending the Governor’s review/signature. Health
Care Workers Wellness Program (House Bill 1533) would have provided confidentiality protections to participants in a wellness program for clinicians. The Georgia Academy supported this measure, and it passed the House but died “on the table” in the Senate on Day 40.
Transgender High School Athletes (House Bill 1087) authorizes the Georgia High School Association to ban transgender girls to compete against other girls in public school sports. This bill passed on the last day of the session and has been sent to the Governor for review/signature.
Lead Screening for Children (House Bill 1355) will lower the level of lead in children’s blood that would trigger state regulatory action, which includes testing, warning letters and required correction of the problem. The new poisoning level threshold would be the CDC guideline of 3.5 micrograms per deciliter. That’s much lower than Georgia’s current 10 micrograms, a standard that experts say leaves many children at risk. This bill passed on the last day of the session is pending review / signature by the Governor.