The Georgia Pharmacy Association

Legislative Update: Week 4 (Feb. 9)

By Greg Reybold

Week 4

Legislative session is in full swing, bills continue to be introduced, and bills previously introduced continue to make their way through the legislative process. Through it all, GPhA continues to be at the Capitol, advocating for pro-pharmacy, pro-patient legislation and engaging with legislators on the finer points of several pieces of legislation.

Week 4 also saw GPhA’s first Day at the Dome event with students from GPhA and PCOM storming the Capitol — advocating for updating pharmacist point-of-care testing authority as well as for certain increases with regard to scope of practice as recommended by the House Rural Development Committee. Following the event, we received several positive comments about our student advocates, and several inquiries from legislators regarding expanding scope of practice. The day was indeed a success.

Pharmacists at the Capitol

For our pharmacist members, our Pharmacists at the Capitol events are an opportunity for pharmacists themselves to get involved and be heard.

Please signup today for one of our Pharmacists at the Capitol events by visiting GPhA.org/atthecapitol

Legislation introduced this week

Beyond advocating for GPhA’s legislative priorities, GPhA also monitors other legislation that impacts the practice of pharmacy. We not only want to keep you abreast of changes, we also want to be sure, when necessary, pharmacists are heard on these issues.

HB 747

Introduced by Representative Sharon Cooper, the chair of the House Health & Human Services Committee, this bill seeks to require unrestricted access to medications for Medicaid hemophilia patients. It was initially scheduled for an HHS Committee hearing this week but was taken off the calendar for further discussion prior to being heard by committee.

HB 755

Introduced by Representative Cannon, this bill looks to implement a pilot program providing pre-exposure prophylaxis drug assistance to person persons at risk of HIV.

HB 769

Sponsored by Representative Jasperse (in connection with implementing certain recommendations of the House Rural Development Committee relating to rural healthcare), this bill would streamline credentialing and billing processes for state medical plans, establish a center for rural healthcare innovation and sustainability within the state office of rural health; and establish micro-hospitals (institutions in rural counties that have between two and seven beds and that provide services 24/7).

The bill also looks to allow hospital pharmacies to utilize remote order entry when (1) a licensed pharmacist is not physically present in the hospital, the hospital pharmacy is closed, and a licensed pharmacist will be physically present in the hospital pharmacy within 48 hours (currently 24 hours); or (2) at least one licensed pharmacist is physically present in another hospital within this state that remotely serves only on weekends not more than four other hospitals under the same ownership or management which have an average daily census of fewer than 12 acute patients. The bill also removes the requirement that a hospital have at least one pharmacist physically present in the hospital pharmacy with at least one other pharmacist practicing pharmacy in the hospital but not present in the hospital pharmacy.

GPhA is currently evaluating this legislation and we’ll engaging in conversations.

HB 782

Introduced by Representative Rhodes, this bill makes certain narrow revisions to Georgia’s PDMP as recommended by the Department of Public Health, which administers the program. It looks to ease requirements in connection with prescriber and dispenser delegation while at the same time allowing DPH to share PDMP info with other state PDMPs, as well as prescriber or healthcare facility electronic medical record systems.

GPhA has had several discussions with DPH officials in advance of this legislation and is supportive of these narrow changes.

SB 357

This bill was sponsored by Senator Burke and seeks to create the Healthcare Coordination and Innovation Council to improve coordination of the state’s healthcare system. The bill would establish six fixed positions (state directors and commissioners) as well as eight appointments by the governor: four representatives from medical schools, universities, or academia, and four from the private healthcare sector as well as certain ex officio members.

GPhA fully supports the formation of this council. However, we’re engaging in talks with senators and proposing expanding the number of providers for appointment from four to six and specifying the providers to include one of each of the following: pharmacist physician, nurse, dentist, and PA. This bill passed out of the Senate HHS Committee via substitute.

Updates on legislation previously introduced

HB 687

Chairman Smith’s surprise-billing legislation (see week 3 update) passed out of the House Insurance Subcommittee.

SB 321

Senator Tillery’s bill, which would increase penalties for provider Medicaid fraud (see week 1 update) passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee via substitute.

SB 352

Senator Unterman’s opioid omnibus bill (see week 3 update) passed out of the Senate HHS Committee via substitute.

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