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2021 Georgia General Assembly
Update: April 5, 2021
2021 Session Wrap-Up
At midnight last Wednesday, the Georgia General Assembly adjourned its 2021 session. This year’s session, held in the midst of the pandemic, produced several important gains for pediatricians and the children, adolescents, and young adults we care for. One of the most important was an increase in the state Medicaid budget for FY 2022 of the 18 most commonly used E/M codes to 2020 Medicare levels. This results in increases of between 3-7% depending on the code. This increase was a direct product of the Chapter lobbying efforts for it, joined by our colleague societies in our PCP coalition: family medicine, internal medicine, osteopathic medicine, and OB-Gyn. We thank them for their efforts to help us achieve this important measure.
Below is a summary of the major bills we followed and their final status. (The Governor has 40 days following the end of the session (about May 10) to either sign or veto bills. Or he may allow bills to become law without his signature.) Key: S = Chapter supported; O = Chapter opposed.
- State FY 2022 Budget: HB 81, Passed. Medicaid budget (in Dept. of Community Health) contained $7M in state funds to increase 18 E/M PCP codes to 2020 Medicare levels.
The state Fiscal Year 2022 begins 7-1-21. S
2. HB 99—Would require facilities to permit use of employee bathrooms in emergencies for ulcerative colitis patients and others with similar conditions. Failed. S
3. HB 150—Prohibits cities from enacting ordinances that would prohibit certain types of energy, e.g. natural gas to be used in new home building . Passed. Due to the additional risk natural gas poses to children in their homes, we opposed.
4. HB 212–Revises state law regarding “Do Not Resuscitate” orders on minors, who can order. Failed. Monitored.
5. HB 272-Raises age in which juvenile offender will be tried in juvenile court (vs. adult court) from 16 to 17. Passed House, but failed in Senate. S
6. HB 287—Adds education on vaping and nicotine use and and sex trafficking to list of already-required subjects (e.g. drugs & alcohol) in which Georgia schools are required to provide student education. Passed. S
7. SB 212—Makes several changes to Georgia elections laws. Passed signed by Governor on March 25. We submitted a statement asserting the importance of convenient access to the polls by parents and caregivers of children to state leaders.
8. Telehealth. HB 307. Made positive updates to Georgia’s telehealth laws. Passed. S
9. APRN & PA’s, right to Rx for Schedule II drugs. Would have permitted them to prescribe 5 days of Schedule II drug on emergency basis to pts of any age. Passed House, failed in Senate. Strongly opposed
10. Codifies State Newborn screening & genetics committee & establishes timeframe for adding new RUSP conditions to Georgia panel. HB 567. Passed. S
11. Fast Track Medicaid Enrollment. Creates “express lane” for Medicaid enrollment and renewal by linking with HB 163. Passed. S
12. Transgender children, Sports participation. Would prohibit transgender girls from participating in girls’ sports. Three bills were introduced, but none got out of committee. HB 276, HB 372, SB 266
13. Medicaid coverage of donor breast milk for NICU babies, require. HB 825. Introduced late in session to begin advocacy. Strongly Support.
14. Pharmacists & vaccines, revise code, SB 46, updated vaccine code in light of pandemic. After our amendment was made to have COVID vaccine right be same as current flu vaccine (only to those 13+), we supported. Passed.
- Health insurers Prior Authorization policies. SB 80, requires that PA processes insurers (both private & Medicaid CMO) use be subject to certain rules, e.g. public posting of clinical criteria requirements, that determinations be made by physician in same specialty, etc. Passed. S
Thanks to all the Chapter members who contacted their legislators during the session and especially the members of our Legislative Committee who met weekly during the session to follow these issues. An also to our colleagues in other medical associations for working with us on so many of these issues. Questions? Contact Rick Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Melinda Willingham, MD, FAAP
Chair, Legislative Committee
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 email@example.com. 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.