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2020 Georgia General Assembly
Update: Friday, July 17, 2020
2020 Session Concludes Historic, Bifurcated
Session on June 26; Mostly Gains for Pediatricians
On Friday, June 26, the Georgia General Assembly adjourned concluding the remaining 11 days its 2020 session. The legislature suspended its session on March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, at Day 29. Like most years, the 2020 session, while easily the most unusual ever, nevertheless yield a combination of wins and losses for us, but with a definite emphasis on the positive.
First, even though the FY 2021 state budget was hammered with revenue losses and ultimately cut nearly $1B out of the $26B budget, pediatricians will see modest Medicaid rate increases. Budget writers added $2.4M in state funds to increase PCP and the Chapter is recommending that these funds be used to increase the 99213 and 99214. Thanks also to our primary care coalition partners, and the associations of family medicine, internal medicine, OB-Gyn and the DO’s.
A tax on vaping products was passed and so for the first time Georgia will tax these lethal devices; and also in that bill, the age to purchase tobacco was raised to 21. On the downside, our efforts—again with coalition partners—to increase the tobacco tax were stalled. The lawmakers also passed a long, long overdue hate crimes bill and Governor Kemp immediately signed it in an impressive ceremony that very Friday—the last day.
Also, on the negative, was a bill, SB 321 that would give nurse practitioners the unfettered right to order “radiographic imaging” for all patients, including children. We opposed this bill and will now make an appeal to Governor Kemp to veto it. For without a veto, this bill will needlessly endanger children with imaging ordered by those with far less training and expertise in pediatric care.
Following is a chart that details the status of the bill we followed during the 2020 session. As always, thank you to Melinda Willingham, MD, Legislative Committee chair and all the members who engaged during this unprecedented session.
House Appropriations Committee Leadership
Terry England, Auburn
Rep. Butch Parrish, Swainsboro
Chair, Sub-committee on Community Health/Medicaid
Rep. David Ralston, Blue Ridge
Speaker of the House
Senate Appropriations Committee
Sen. Blake Tillery, Vidalia, Chair
Sen. Ben Watson, MD, Savannah
Chair, Senate Health & Human Services
Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, Cumming
Sen. Mike Dugan, Carrollton
Senate Majority Leader
Sen. Butch Miller, Gainesville
Senate President Pro Tem
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
American Academy of Pediatrics Georgia Chapter