The Georgia General Assembly has expended 19 of its potential 40 days as of February 17th. Upcoming key dates are March 15 (Crossover – last day for a bill to pass from one chamber to the next) and proposed Sine Die (Final Day of Session) which is April 4th.
Mental Health Parity – House Bill 1013
The Georgia Academy supports the Mental Health Parity Bill (HB 1013), sponsored by Speaker David Ralston, which codifies mental health parity and other sections that supports family physicians treating their patients. The Academy lobbyists are working with bill sponsors and supporters to increase support for loan forgiveness for family physicians that would enhance Georgia’s mental health workforce. The bill is currently pending in the House and Human Service Committee.
Expand Medicaid Coverage for Post-Partum Women from Six Months to 12 Months –SB 338
The Georgia Academy successfully supported Medicaid expansion for post-partum women from six weeks to six months during the last legislative session. The Georgia Academy was proud to join Senator Dean Burke, MD and a coalition of over 15 groups (including the March of Dimes) to support Medicaid Coverage for post-partum women for up to12 months. In a letter to the Georgia General Assembly, we noted our support, stating in part:
Women are at risk for pregnancy-related mortality and morbidity throughout the first year after delivery.
According to the Georgia Maternal Mortality Review Committee, of the 516 maternal deaths reviewed from 2012 to 2017, 39 percent were determined to be pregnancy-related, and 75 percent of those
pregnancy-related deaths were deemed preventable. Access to medical care during the postpartum period can be a critical tool in addressing the State’s maternal mortality crisis.
The bill unanimously passed out of the Senate on February 7th and is now pending in the House Health and Humans Services Committee.
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. If passed it would 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. GAFP has an ongoing policy to support legislation that would ease administrative burdens, such as onerous prior authorizations required by many insurance plans. This bill has passed out of the Senate and is currently pending in the House Insurance and Labor Committee.
The Academy supports House Bill 807 (CANDOR – Communication & Optimum Resolution). This bill, if passed, would allow there to be pre-litigation between the medical community and patients if there has been a perceived harm during treatment. CANDOR is completely voluntary, and both sides must agree for the pre-litigation negotiation to occur. Regardless of the outcome of a CANDOR mediation, there is no trigger to report to the Composite Medical Board, nor the National Practitioner’s Databank. The GAFP Congress of Delegates already has a policy to support pre-litigation/CANDOR legislation, if helpful for family physicians and our patients.
House Bill 961, which the Academy supports, 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 has been reported out of the House Judiciary Committee and is now pending a vote on the House floor.
Medicaid Budget – Increasing Top 112 Codes to 2020 Medicare Parity – House Bill 911
Governor Kemp has added a proposed $81 million dollars to the State Budget for Fiscal Year 2023 (begins July 1, 2022) to bring up to 112 codes (most commonly used by primary care and obstetrical physicians) up from 2018 Medicare to 2020 Medicare Parity. He also added in language to do away with “attestation” an issue that has plagued primary care physicians for the past several years to qualify to receive the higher rates. As part of the Patient Centered Physician Coalition of Georgia, the Academy sent a letter of appreciation to the Governor, that stated, in part:
Representing over 7,500 family physicians, pediatricians, internal medicine physicians, Obstetricians/Gynecologists, and physicians of Osteopathic medicine, we would like to thank you for your proposed State Fiscal Year 2022-2023 budget and your inclusion of ending the attestation issue for primary care physicians and increasing specific Medicaid codes to 2020 Medicare rates.
We appreciate your support of the healthcare needs of Georgia families and acknowledging that our groups tend to see the bulk of the most fragile citizens, those that qualify for Medicaid insurance. From infants, pregnant women, to the aged, blind, and disabled, we tirelessly work to provide quality healthcare.
The budget bill, House Bill 911, is currently pending in the House Appropriations Committee (and subcommittees) but is expected to begin to move through the committee process in the House over the next two weeks.
Please do not hesitate to contact our Executive Vice President, Fay Fulton (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have questions or ongoing concerns on advocacy issues.