“During a time when the administration is making numerous, often confusing changes to health insurance, more consumer assistance is needed, not less."-- Laura Colbert, Executive Director, Georgians for a Healthy Future
A flurry of activity for Crossover Day
Last Wednesday was Crossover Day at the Capitol, meaning a bill must cross from its chamber of origin to the opposite chamber to remain viable for this legislative session. This week’s legislative update provides a rundown of consumer health legislation: which bills made it through and which did not. You can see a list of all the bills we’re tracking here, along with more information about the bills included here
Surprise billing & transparency legislation keeps moving
SB 359, the most comprehensive surprise billing legislation to be considered by the Georgia General Assembly this session, received approval by the full Senate on Wednesday and will be considered by the House Insurance Committee in the coming weeks. As previously reported, HB 678, a bill that increases provider network and billing transparency, passed the House several weeks ago. It has since been referred to the Senate Health & Human Services Committee. HB 799, which addressed out of network care in emergency situations, did not receive a vote by the House but much of the bill’s language is included in SB 359.
Legislation to close Georgia’s coverage gap did not receive legislative attention
HB 669, sponsored by House MInority Leader Bob Trammell, did not receive a committee hearing or a vote by the Crossover Day deadline. The legislation would expand Georgia’s Medicaid program to cover adults making less than $16,000 annually and parents making less than $21,000 for a family of three, as 32 other states have now done. The bill was assigned to the House Appropriations Committee and remains the most significant step the state could take towards addressing the opioid crisis, strengthening rural hospitals, and increasing access to care for thousands of hard-working Georgians.
Crossover Day Recap
HB 683: Amended FY2018 Budget | CROSSED OVER
HB 683 makes adjustments to the state budget for the current fiscal year which runs through June 30, 2018. The “little budget”, as it is known, has passed both chambers of the General Assembly but has not yet received “agrees” by both chambers, the final step before sending the budget to the Governor for his signature.
HB 684: FY 2019 Budget | REMAINS IN HOUSE
HB 684 is the budget document for the coming state fiscal year which will run from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019. The budget includes several new investments in children’s mental health and mostly maintains funding for other health care programs and priorities. For more information on the health care highlights in the proposed FY2019 budget, read the Community Health and Behavioral Health budget overviews from the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute.
HB 769: Recommendations from the House Rural Development Council | CROSSED OVER
HB 769 is the result of the 2017 House Rural Development Council’s work. The bill includes a number of provisions, most prominently of which is the creation of a Rural Center for Health Care Innovation and Sustainability within the existing State Office of Rural Health. The bill also increases the rural hospital tax credit to 100%, directs the Department of Community Health to streamline and create efficiencies within the state medical plan, allows for the establishment of micro-hospitals, sets up an incentive program for physicians practicing in rural areas, and redefines “rural county”.
HB 827: Rural hospitals tax credit increase | CROSSED OVER
HB 827, introduced by Rep. Trey Kelley, would expand the rural hospital tax credit program from a 90% credit to a 100% credit. The tax credit program went into effect last year and has resulted in the donation of about $10 million to rural hospitals thus far.
HB 872: Provider network transparency | DID NOT CROSS OVER
HB 872, sponsored by Rep. Knight, requires insurers to make a plain language description of their provider network standards publicly available on their website among other provisions. The bill also stipulates that if an insurer advertises a physician as being in a plan’s provider network when a consumer enrolls in an insurance plan, the insurer is required to cover the health care services received from that provider at an in-network rate during the entire contract year.
HB 873: Prescription drug formulary and prior authorization transparency | DID NOT CROSS OVER
This bill requires that insurers provide an easy-to-find, accurate, and updated drug formulary list on their website and requires the Insurance Commissioner to create rules about the format and information within the formulary so that consumers can more easily understand what prescriptions are covered under their insurance plan and the costs associated. The legislation also requires that a single, standard prior authorization form be developed that would apply to all insurers and pharmacy benefit managers regulated in Georgia.
HB 877: “Modified risk” tobacco | DID NOT CROSS OVER
HB 877 would have cut Georgia’s tobacco tax in half for so-called “modified risk” tobacco products. The bill lost decisively on the House floor by a vote of 109-59. Thank you to those of you who contacted your state representatives last week ahead of the House’s vote!
SB 325: Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Act | CROSSED OVER
SB 325 would allow Georgia to enter the “Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Act” which allows health care providers to more easily obtain licenses to practice in multiple states. It also grants states easier access to investigative and disciplinary information about providers.
SB 351: Changes for APRNs | CROSSED OVER
SB 351 would expand from four to eight the number of advanced practice registered nurses a physician is allowed to supervise and would allow APRNs to order radiographic imaging for patients if their supervising physician delegated the authority. The legislation is significantly diminished from the original proposal which would have granted APRNs a greater scope of practice.
SB 352: Legislation to establish Commission on Substance Abuse & Recovery | CROSSED OVER
SB 352 establishes a Commission on Substance Abuse & Recovery, headed by a director, which would be charged with coordinating data among relevant government entities; informing strategies to combat the opioid crisis within the Departments of Public Health and Education, the Attorney General’s Office, and other state entities; consulting with the Governor’s office on a potential Medicaid waiver related to opioid abuse; and developing and informing other efforts to expand access to prevention, treatment, and recovery support services across the state.
SB 357: Legislation to establish Health Coordination and Innovation Council | CROSSED OVER
SB 357 establishes the Health Coordination and Innovation Council, the Health System Innovation Center, and an advisory board to the Council. The Council would act as a permanent statewide coordinating platform, bringing together all of health care’s major stakeholders, and the Center is proposed as a research body that would collect and analyze data to support the work of the Council.
SB 418: FDA and USDA Preemption bill | DID NOT CROSS OVER
SB 418, sponsored by Rep. John Wilkinson, would preempt local governments from regulating any product currently under the jurisdiction of the FDA, USDA, or the Georgia Department of Agriculture, including tobacco and marijuana. The bill failed in the Senate by a 34-19 vote, but is expected to come back in an amended form.