March 6, 2017 - CROSSOVER Update

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Georgia Health Care Legislation Update: After Crossover Day

Crossover Day is the day a bill must cross from its chamber (House or Senate) of origin to the opposite chamber to remain viable for this legislative session. Here are some bills that made it through.

 Surprise Billing bills keep moving

SB 8 passed the Senate almost two weeks ago, but HB 71 did not receive a vote from the full House before the Crossover Day deadline. While HB 71 will no longer be considered on its own, lawmakers could include some of the bill's language in SB 8 as it moves through the House Insurance committee. We anticipate that consumer protections and transparency requirements will be maintained as the bill progresses through the House.


HB 276 & SB 103: The Pharmacy Patients Fair Practice Act | CROSSED OVER

HB 276 and SB 103 both seek to regulate pharmacy benefit managers, which are third party companies that manage the prescription drug programs of many insurance plans. Both bills would prohibit PBMs from certain practices that limit consumer access and choice to preferred pharmacies and to lower cost drugs. Both bills passed their respective chambers. 

SB 12 & HB 154: Oral health legislation | CROSSED OVER
Both bills allow for the "general supervision" of dental hygienists, which means hygienists can practice in safety net settings, school clinics, nursing homes, and private practices without a dentist being present.

SB 29: Testing for lead in drinking water | CROSSED OVER
This bill, sponsored by Sen. Vincent Fort, requires child care learning centers and private and public schools to test their drinking water for lead contamination. If lead contamination is found, the proposal requires the school to notify parents, students, and staff of the test results and present a remediation plan.  

SB 70: Renewal of provider fee | SIGNED INTO LAW
This legislation reauthorized the provider fee (aka "bed tax") for an additional three years. The provider fee helps to fund Georgia's Medicaid program by allowing the Department of Community Health to collect a tax on hospital revenues which is used to draw down additional federal dollars. The additional funds are disproportionately used to support rural and safety net hospitals that serve high numbers of indigent patients. The bill has already passed both chambers and been signed by Governor Deal. 

SB 81: Opioid abuse prevention legislation | CROSSED OVER
SB 81 requires that all physicians register and consult the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) under certain prescribing conditions. It also requires that providers report certain opioid-based Schedule II, III, IV, and V prescriptions to the PDMP. The bill allows the Composite Medical Board to determine penalties for willfully non-compliant providers. The bill also requires the tracking and reporting of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) and codifies the Governor’s emergency order on an overdose reversal drug (naloxone), making it available without a physician prescription.

SB 121: Opioid antagonist bill | CROSSED OVER
SB 121 codifies Governor Deal's executive order to allow consumers to access opioid antagonist drugs (e.g. Naloxone) over-the-counter without a prescription. The legislation also requires that every pharmacy keep a record of every opioid antagonist dispensed as a result of the standing order and maintain the record for two years. Unlike SB 81, a bill with similar language, this bill would not require that pharmacists submit this information to the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. 

Rx in Reach GA Coalition: HB 519: Step Therapy Bill| DID NOT CROSS OVER Requires health benefit plans to utilize certain clinical review criteria to establish step therapy protocols; to provide for a step therapy override determination process; to provide for definitions; to provide for statutory construction; to provide for rules and regulations; to provide for applicability; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes. We will continue to push for this vital legislation.

Other Important Legislation

HR 182: Resolution to restructure Georgia's Medicaid program
HR 182 was introduced with the purpose of providing legislative permission to the Governor and the Department of Community Health to seek per capita block grant funding for Georgia's Medicaid program. It remains unclear if this resolution will get a hearing or a vote. While resolutions are non-binding and do not impact state law, this resolution could begin a risky conversation among lawmakers. Shifting Georgia's Medicaid program from its current federal-state partnership structure to a block grant program would mean cuts in services and in beneficiaries, putting Georgia's most vulnerable children, parents, elderly, and people with disabilities at risk. This resolution is not subject to Crossover and remains viable in the House.

State budget includes important health items

The FY 2018 budget passed the House in mid-February and is now being considered by the Senate. As passed by the House, the budget includes increased Medicaid reimbursement rates for certain primary care codes and pediatric dental codes, which help to increase access to care for people with Medicaid coverage. The budget also includes funding for two new federally qualified health centers in Cook and Liberty counties. Additionally, the budget includes enhanced funding for supportive housing, an important determinant of health for people with behavioral health issues. 


ALERT : Senate "Repeal and Replace" Task Force
Early in the legislative session, the Senate established a task force to address impacts to Georgia from any federal changes to the Affordable Care Act. This committee has convened twice, but has not yet scheduled a public meeting. It is unlikely to be a very active committee until there is clarity at the federal level about the direction of health care policy changes, and which provisions or concepts of the ACA will be kept or repealed.