Since over 20 percent of the state budget is spent on health care and human services, it is not surprising that 2016 saw a number of legislative initiatives focused on health care and a major increase in the investment in health care spending for Georgia citizens.
Legislation affecting health care
• HB 362— Requires pharmacies to electronically track sales of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine using a “real-time electronic logging system” that registers customer information at the time of purchase and generates a stop sale alert to notify a pharmacy that the purchase exceeds the quantity limits.
• HB 509—Creates the Georgia Palliative Care and Quality of Life Advisory Council and establishes a state-wide Palliative Care Consumer and Professional Information and Education Program within the Department of Community Health (DCH).
• HB 649—“Georgia Lactation Consultant Practice Act”—Regulates the practice of lactation care services and licensure of lactation consultants by the Secretary of State
• HB 775—Prohibits on-line prescribing and dispensing of eyeglasses or contacts without a visit to an optometrist or ophthalmologist.
• HB 783— Revises and updates the definitions of Schedule I controlled substances under Georgia law, amending the term “low THC oil” or medical marijuana.
• HB 853—“Coverdell-Murphy Act”—Updates current system of levels of certified stroke centers to reflect advances in stroke treatments and therapy.
• HB 886— Requires any pharmacy, including specialty pharmacies, to utilize a shipping method that is in accordance with recognized standards when shipping medication to a patient. However, if the State Board of Pharmacy bans a medication from being sold in Georgia, either over the counter or otherwise, then the medication cannot not be delivered by mail.
• HB 902—Requires hospitals and related institutions to distribute educational information on influenza and vaccines to residents of assisted living communities.
• HB 910—Under current law, a party requesting a patient’s medical records is responsible for paying up to $20 for search, retrieval, and other direct administrative costs. This bill expands this code section so that the costs of obtaining health records also apply to psychiatric, psychological and other mental health records of a patient.
• HB 926—Tightens restrictions on drug compounding. Bill provides that compounding can only be conducted by outsourcing facilities but exempts intracompany out of state transfers where properly licensed.
• HB 965—“President Jimmy Carter Cancer Treatment Access Act”—Prohibits health plans that cover the treatment of stage four advanced, metastatic cancer from first requiring that an insured fail to respond to one drug before providing coverage for a different FDA-approved drug.
• HB 979—Makes assault of an emergency medical services worker punishable of between five and 20 years imprisonment.
Important budget additions for health care
• $300,000—To establish a Patient Centered Medical Home grant program
• $11.3 million—To provide a 3 percent inflation adjustment to the 2012 nursing home cost reports
• $26.2 million—To provide a Medicaid reimbursement rate increase on 32 select primary care provider and OB/GYN codes
• $250 Payment—Add-on Medicaid payment for newborn deliveries in rural counties
• $200,000—To add a new loan repayment program for physician assistants and advanced practice registered nurses
• $42,000—To fund the purchase of three telemedicine equipment devices to support Middle Georgia EMS services
• $50,000—Restores funds to the Georgia Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center
• $1.2 million—Adds funds for 80 new physician residency slots
• $219,684—Helps establish an emergency medicine residency program at Memorial Health University Medical Center
• $3 million—In bonds to DCH for the implementation of the Integrated Eligibility System
Full transcripts of bills may be found at http://www.legis.ga.gov/en-US/default.aspx. Simply type the bill number into the box at the top left-hand corner of the screen and specify if it is in the House or the Senate. The FY 2017 budget (H.B. 751) may be found at http://www.senate.ga.gov/sbeo/en-US/AppropriationsDocuments.aspx. As always, I welcome any questions you may have.
I may be reached at
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(404) 657-7094 (fax)
E-mail at Jack.Hill@senate.ga.gov
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