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Save the Date:

2018 Georgia AAP Legislative Day at the Capitol

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Floyd Veterans Building
Floyd Room West Tower, 20th Floor
2 Martin Luther King Drive, Atlanta, GA 30334


2018 Georgia General Assembly Preview

Updated: Friday, December 22, 2017

The 2018 session of the Georgia General Assembly will convene on Monday, January 8, 2018.  Since by law, the legislature must convene on the “second Monday of January” this year is the earliest possible date when they can begin their session. Given that this is an election year and many legislators will stand for primary elections in May, they will be anxious to return home and hit the campaign trail. Moreover, legislators are prohibited from fund-raising while the session is convened so that is another factor propelling them back home as soon as the session ends.  Most likely this will be late March. Before we look ahead to the 2018 session, let’s review some action which took place last year that impacts you today:

HB 249, made changes to the Georgia Prescription  Drug Monitoring Program. Click here for the Georgia Code Section 16-13-26, which HB 249 references. The new law does 3 things that pediatricians should know:

  1. All physicians must register with the Georgia PDMP by Dec. 31, 2017. You must do so regardless if you prescribe controlled substances.
  2. It requires that whenever a physician prescribes one of the controlled substances listed in paragraphs 1 or 2 of the Act, it creates an obligation for the physician to review the PDMP at regular intervals.  However, stimulant medication used in the treatment of ADHD are not in paragraphs 1 or 2, and therefore physicians (like pediatricians for the most part) who prescribe these drugs are exempt from the obligation to review.  Paragraphs 1,2 and 3 are shown in the Code Section above.
  3. It requires all physicians to take a 3 hour course in appropriate opioid prescribing & safety. It is a one-time requirement and must be completed by the end of your next licensure cycle.

Looking ahead to 2018 session:  We’ll be watching several issues this session, among them:

  1. Scope of Practice: A Senate report issued in December recommended expanded scope of practice for nurse practitioners.  Last year, we fought the PA’s as they sought the right prescribe hydrocodone. While that bill passed, the Governor wisely vetoed it. It’s likely we’ll see a bill to give NP’s broader prescriptive.  And the PA’s may even return with their hydrocodone bill.
  2. Medical Cannabis:  It’s also possible that proponents of CBD oil will introduce another bill to add more conditions to the state’s CDB oil possession law.  Currently, about 16 conditions are included in the law, which makes possession  of CBD oil legal for those who have that condition, as so determined by a physician.

Finally, we hope to see you all at our Legislative Day at the Capitol, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018.  It’s a great  day to meet your state legislators and sharpen your skills as an advocate and engaged pediatrician on the various facets of medicine at play under the Gold Dome.

House Appropriations Committee Leadership

Terry England, Auburn
404-463-2247 Cap

Rep. Butch Parrish, Swainsboro
Chair, Sub-committee on Community Health/Medicaid

House Leadership
Rep. David Ralston, Blue Ridge
Speaker of the House

Rep. Jan Jones, Milton
Speaker Pro Tem

Rep. Jon Burns, Statesboro

Senate Appropriations Committee

Sen. Jack Hill, Reidsville, Chair

Sen. Dean Burke, MD, Bainbridge

Chair, Subcommittee on Community Health & Medicaid

Senate Leadership
Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Gainesville

Sen. Bill Cowsert, Athens
Senate Majority Leader 

Sen. Butch Miller, Gainesville
Senate President Pro Tem

 FY 2016

Sample Letter to Email to Legislators re Medicaid-Medicare parity payment issue
House & Senate Appropriations Medicaid sub-committees which will consider state Medicaid budget

House Bills, Final Status:

HB 44, The FY 2018 budget. The Dept. of Community Health (Medicaid & Peachcare) budget contains:

  1. $17M to increase 76 CPT codes for primary care physicians & 4 codes for OB’s to 2014 Medicare rates. (Total funds $56.7M). This is the “3rd phase” of restoring the ACA Medicaid rates increases of ’13 and ’14. A great win for us and we appreciate the Governor’s and the Appropriations leaders support of this move.
  2. The final budget added $6.5M to solve the “attestation problem” effective July 1, 2017.
  3. $20.7M “to cover behavioral health services for children under 21 who are diagnosed as autistic.”  (Total funds: $65.6M)  We have submitted our suggestions for the use of these funds, but no plans have yet been made public.
  4. $2.5M for “behavioral health services to children ages 0-4.”  (Total funds: $8M). No plans for these funds have yet been made public.

A big thank you to Reps. Butch Parrish, Swainsboro and Terry England, Auburn, chair of the Medicaid Appropriations sub-committee and Chair, House Appropriations Committee respectively for their strong support of the Medicaid-Medicare parity issue.  And to their respective Senate counterparts, Sen. Dean Burke, Bainbridge and Sen. Jack Hill, Reidsville.  Without the strong support of these four legislators we could not have reached this important goal. They are strong supporters of rural healthcare & a strong primary care physician workforce in Georgia and the critical role it plays in sustaining the economic viability of these communities. Thanks also to House Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones, Johns Creek; and House Majority Leader, Rep. Jon Burns, Statesboro; and their Senate counterparts, Sen. David Shafer, Duluth and Sen. Bill Cowsert, Athens for their help on the Attestation problem.

HB 65, add Autism as condition for cannabis oil : Would add 8 more “medically qualifying conditions” to the state’s medical cannabis oil law, including ASD.  Others are: Tourette’s syndrome,, Alzheimer’s, HIV, and AIDS, et al. This bill morphed into SB 14, below, which passed and was signed by the Governor.

Surprise Billing, prevent: HB 71: This bill aimed at curtailing “surprise billing” but one feature would require physicians, as a condition of hospital privileges, to accept the hospitals plan and empower the hospital to enter insurance contracts. The bill was tabled on the House floor and did not pass.

HB 157,  Medical specialty advertising. Revises criteria for advertising a medical specialty certification. Died in House Health Committee.

HB 165, Requirement for MOC: Would prohibit using Maintenance Of Certification (MOC) as a condition for hospital/staff privileges, employment in state medical facilities, reimbursement from third parties, or malpractice insurance coverage. (A legislative priority of MAG). The provision re “hospital staff privileges” was removed after hospital opposition and the bill passed.

HB 241, Krabbe disease, screening for.  would add Krabbe disease to list of newborn screenings, to be done separately at cost to parent as option. Passed.

HB 249: Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP): Moves administration of the PDMP to the Dept. of Public Health; and requires all physicians with a DEA number to register with the PDMP by January 1, 2018.  Also requires physicians who prescribe certain Schedule II drugs to check the PDMP whenever they prescribe and at certain intervals. HOWEVER, this does not include stimulant medications used in the treatment of ADHD.  The Georgia AAP lobbied to make sure these medications were excluded from the bill.  The purpose of the bill was to curb opioid abuse.  See more below.

HB 249, changes to the Georgia Prescription  Drug Monitoring Program. Click here for the Georgia Code Section 16-13-26, which HB 249 references. It says that whenever a physician prescribes one of the controlled substances listed in paragraphs 1 or 2, it creates an obligation for the physician to review the PDMP at regular intervals.  However, stimulant medication used in the treatment of ADHD are not in paragraphs 1 or 2, and therefore physicians who prescribe these are exempt from the obligation to review.  Paragraphs 1,2 and 3 are shown here.

HB 280: Campus Carry, would permit students 21 and over to have concealed carry permits on college grounds, with a few exceptions. Passed and signed by the Governor.

Senate Bills, Final Status:

SB 8: would prohibit “surprise billing” by a physician to a patient on basis that they were out-of-network. Support concept but others features are problematic. Passed Senate. A different approach from HB 71 in the House. This bill was merged in the House Insurance committee with elements of HB 71.

SB 14. Would add autism to the list of medically qualifying conditions to legally possess CBD oil. This bill was amended and now contains HB 65 (above). Passed.

SB 81, Most of the bill is aimed at curbing opioid abuse, which we support. But it also requires doctors to register with the PDMP by 1-1-18 and to check on prescriptions of certain drugs every 90 days. Non-compliance is reported to the Composite State Medical Board.

SB 118: Mandates insurance plans to cover autism services for children up to age 18.  (Current law is 0-6 yrs.). Failed in Senate Insurance Committee.

SB 125: Would permit PA’s to prescribe hydrocodone, if supply was limited to 5-days and for children, no more than the lesser of 30 pills or 100 milligrams. Passed but vetoed by Governor Deal ! We wrote the Governor urging him to veto this misguided bill and were so pleased that he did so.  In his veto message, he noted that the bill was “incongruous” with our current efforts to fight the epidemic of opioid abuse. Amen.

For a complete text of any these bills you can visit the Georgia General Assembly website:  www.legis.state.ga.us.   For more information on these or other bills, contact Rick Ward, at the Chapter office, at jrice@gaaap.org. Thanks to the members of the Legislative Committee for their efforts during the session and to all our members who contacted their legislators about our issues.  Your support and participation in the legislative process is vitally important to our advocacy.