Update: January 15, 2018
By Greg Reybold
Georgia’s 2018 legislative session opened on Monday, January 8, and GPhA was there, paying close attention through all four days of the first week of session. It is important to note that this is the second year of the 2017-2018 legislative session and so bills introduced but not passed in the 2017 session can continue to make their way through the legislative process.
As we do every year, GPhA will be in attendance at the Gold Dome daily, monitoring legislation, advocating for and against legislation, and looking to protect and advance the care of patients and the practice of pharmacy by engaging with legislators and stake holders. Also, we will be providing weekly updates on bills we are watching, and, from time to time issuing legislative alerts and asking you to take action.
Now, to the details . . .
Week 1 was a light week in terms of legislation introduced that will impact the practice of pharmacy but there were a few bills introduced which are worth noting as set forth below.
Introduced by Senator Michael “Doc” Rhett, this legislation seeks to implement a program of premium assistance in order to enable eligible individuals to obtain health care coverage. More specifically, it proposes that the Department of Community Health create and implement the program via state plan amendment and federal waivers – in which the Department is authorized to pay premiums and supplemental cost-sharing subsidies directly to providers of qualified health plans for enrolled eligible individuals. The Bill does contemplate eligible individuals to pay a personal responsibility premium as a condition of receiving assistance.
Introduced by Senator Blake Tillery, this bill proposes to increase the civil penalties for false or fraudulent Medicaid claims. Under current law, civil penalties are not less than $5,000 and not more than $11,000 for each false or fraudulent claim. This Bill seek to increase the minimum penalty to $11,000 and the maximum penalty to 22,000 for each false or fraudulent claim.
Introduced by Senator Donzella James, this bill requires, amongst other things, that all electric and nonelectric personal assistive mobility device sold in this state after December 31, 2018, shall be sold equipped with reflectors (front, rear, and side) which shall be visible from a distance of 300 feet when directly in front of lawful upper beams of headlights on a motor vehicle.
Georgia Healthcare Reform Task Force
The Georgia Healthcare Reform Taskforce, led by Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, which previously held five meetings across the state, held a meeting on Monday, January 9th, and voted in favor of their initial set of recommendations as follows:
- Establish the Health Coordination and Innovation Council (HCIC);
- Establish the Health System Innovation Center (HSIC) to leverage health policy and data resources and provide technical assistance to rural leaders; and
- Charge the HCIC and HSIC with developing a strategic plan utilizing baseline analytics.
The task force also discussed issues including waivers, data collection, and the opioid epidemic. Senator Unterman, a member of the committee, indicated that legislation seeking to combat the opioid epidemic will be forthcoming. In this regard, GPhA has been in attendance at several town hall meetings throughout the state as well as DPH’s stakeholder meeting, is a part of the Attorney General’s Opioid Task Force, and has been engaged with legislators regularly on the issue of combatting the opioid epidemic.
GPhA also closely followed the work of the House of Representatives Rural Development Council which made several recommendations impacting pharmacy in their final report including:
- Encourage a hospital pharmacist be on the Pharmacy Board.
- Clarify the inconsistencies in Remote pharmacy laws related to the 24-hour requirement for pharmacists to check-in and the requirement for a physical pharmacist.
- Encourage a transparent live-bid, real-time auditing Pharmacy Benefit Manager model.
- Expand the scope of practice/training for some mid-levels (EMS, pharmacists, PAs, social workers) to provide certain services for: minor care; chronic case management; urgent care; telemedicine; and post-hospital visits to avoid readmissions.
The full report can be read here: http://www.house.ga.gov/Documents/CommitteeDocuments/2017/HouseRuralDevelopmentCouncil/2017_FINAL_Recommendations.pdf
GPhA will continue to follow the work of the Council and engage with legislators in order to be heard on all issues impacting Georgia pharmacists and their patients.
Pharmacists at the Capitol
While GPhA is at the Capitol daily fighting for pharmacists and their patients, the true voice and the true strength of the Association lies with you, our members. That is why is so important that your legislators hear from you, their constituents, on issues that impact pharmacy.
Please signup today for one of our Pharmacists at the Capitol events by clicking the following link: http://www.gpha.org/atthecapitol
The first three events have already been scheduled and we are hoping for a great turn out. The last two year’s events were a tremendous success in that they proved effective in advancing pharmacy priorities and they were fun. In fact, we are pleased to report that two of our current GPhA Region Presidents volunteered for the positions after attending GPhA’s Pharmacists at the Capitol events.
- Wednesday, January 24 — 10:00 a.m. to noon
- Wednesday, February 7 — 10:00 a.m. to noon
- Wednesday, February 14 — 10:00 a.m. to noon