The Georgia Pharmacy Association

GPhA Advocacy

Advocacy is one of the Georgia Pharmacy Association’s primary functions.

2017 Legislative Agenda

Our major bill: The Pharmacy Patient Fair Practices Act.

In the Senate, it’s SB103. In the House it’s HB 276. The bills are identical.

We think you’ll love this bill. In a nutshell, here’s what it does:

This is a pro-patient bill, and we’re grateful to Chairman Mullis and all the cosponsors in the Senate, and to Representative David Knight and the cosponsors in the House.

More updates and details to come, of course.

Got questions? Contact Greg Reybold: greybold@gpha.org or (404) 419-8118. He can fill you in on anything you need to know.

Legislative Update

February 13 – Week 4

Week four of Georgia’s legislative session is in the books as are 16 days of the 40 day session. With all of GPhA’s priority legislation introduced and likely to see committee soon, now is a great time to sign up for GPhA’s Pharmacists at the Capitol events. We are hoping for a strong showing in the coming weeks. Please click here and sign up for one of GPhA’s Pharmacists at the Capitol events. –Greg

Our major bill: The Pharmacy Patient Fair Practices Act

Previously introduced in the Senate by Senator Mullis (SB 130), an identical version of the Pharmacy Patient Fair Practices Act was introduced in the House by Representative David Knight as HB 276.

HB 276 has already received 50 cosponsors, and both bills are expected to go the insurance committee in their respective chambers soon.

HB 206 – DCH recoupment

HB 206 (introduced in week three) has been assigned to the House Health and Human Services Committee and is expected to be heard there in week 5. GPhA will offer testimony in support of this bill. It proposes to prohibit DCH from recouping for corrected clerical errors where no overpayment has occurred.

Other legislation introduced in week 4

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 249

Introduced by Representative Tanner, this bill looks to make changes to, amongst other things, Georgia’s prescription drug monitoring program. With regard to pharmacists, this bill looks to require dispensers to submit prescription information every 24 hours (it exempts naloxone) and encourages — but does not mandate — dispensers to check the system prior to dispensing prescriptions. It also looks to reduce the number of delegates at a dispenser or prescriber’s office to two staff members.

This bill would require prescribers to check the PDMP system when prescribing for certain Schedule II controlled substances (subject to exceptions, including writing for a three-day supply, writing for a patient in a hospital, writing for a patient in an outpatient hospice program, and writing for a patient who is under long-term care for cancer). Dispensers who fail to review the PDMP when required could be held accountable at the administrative board level as opposed to criminal sanctions.

GPhA is closely monitoring this bill and will look to add input when requested or as needed.

SB 121

This bill was introduced by Senator Miller and looks to codifying pharmacists’ ability to dispense naloxone pursuant to a standing order from the state health officer. It also requires pharmacists to maintain a copy of the standing order and to keep a record of every opioid antagonist dispensed including specific information for a period of two years though it carves out the need to report to the PDMP. GPhA is closely monitoring this bill and will look to add input when requested or as needed.

SB 125

Senator Jeffares introduced this legislation which would allow PAs to prescribe hydrocodone-compound products when delegated by a physician. Such prescriptions cannot exceed a five-day supply and PAs will have to complete certain continuing education requirements.

Updates on earlier legislation

SB 81

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee favorably reported SB 81 by substitute via a 7-6 vote. Unchanged were the provisions allowing pharmacists to dispense naloxone pursuant to a standard order from the state health officer and its scheduling as an exempt Schedule V controlled substance.

With regard to the prescription drug monitoring program, SB81 would require dispensers to submit controlled-substance prescription information to the PDMP at least every 24 hours. While under current law dispensers can delegate to technicians, SB 81 limits this ability to no more than two delegates per shift or rotation per dispenser. (Prescribers could delegate the task to any staff member, also with a maximum of two delegates per shift or rotation per prescriber.)

SB 81 would also add some new responsibilities for prescribers. In particular, every prescriber prescribing Schedule II-V controlled substances would need to register with the database within a specified time frame. Prescribers who are prescribing benzodiazepines, opiates, opioids, opioid analgesics, or opioid derivatives would be required to seek and review information from the database under certain circumstances and subject to certain exceptions.

SB 81 also imposes a five-day supply limit for prescribing benzodiazepines, opiates, opioids, opioid analgesics, or opioid derivatives to adults for the first time. (That limitation would not apply when a prescriber determines, in his or her professional judgment, that more than a five-day supply is necessary to treat a patient’s acute medical condition, chronic pain, or pain associated with cancer.) The bill originally applied that five-day limitation to all controlled substances (e.g., including ADHD medication) but was narrowed after concerns were voiced.

In terms of penalties for prescribers (and their designees) for knowingly and intentionally failing to seek and review information on the PDMP: SB 81 would make it a misdemeanor for the first three offenses. (There has been significant discussion regarding the penalties under existing law which would still stand.)

For dispensers, knowingly and intentionally failing to upload information or uploading incorrect information is a felony. Negligently doing so is a misdemeanor. For both dispensers and prescribers — and anyone else authorized to access the PDMP — knowingly and intentionally accessing or disclosing information from the PDMP is a felony and negligently doing so is a misdemeanor.

There has been discussion of a separate bill to bring dispenser penalties (for failing to upload information) into line with prescriber penalties. Amending SB 81 is also a possibility. GPhA continues to closely monitor this bill and offer input when requested or necessary.

Click here for all our legislative updates throughout the session.

What you can do

There’s a lot you can do to help us help you, your practice, and your patients.

Contact your legislators

Especially when we put out a call to action, your phone calls, letters, faxes, and postcards make a tremendous difference. When dozens or hundreds of their constituents reach out with an opinion, you can bet leglislators listen.

Don’t know who your legislators are? You’re not alone. Click here to go to the Common Cause website where you enter your address and get your list of who represents you.

Tell us about your connections

Are you on a first-name basis with a Georgia legislator? We want to know! Just drop a note to Greg Reybold at greybold@gpha.org and let him know.

Support PharmPAC

The Georgia Pharmacists Political Action Committee — PharmPAC — provides the resources for your association to lobby and advocate on behalf of pharmacy professionals across the state. Click here for more information.

Join our events

During each legislative session we have days when pharmacists visit the capitol en masse. A few years ago it was “VIP Day.” In 2015 it was “Day at the Dome.” In 2016 we began “Pharmacist Advocacy Teams.” Keep an eye on your e-mail and come to the capitol with a few dozen of your colleagues. The show of white coats is a powerful message.

GPhA and Georgia Politics

GPhA is deeply involved in the Georgia political scene. While we don’t like to use the phrase “fighting for pharmacists,” we are working — during the legislative session and throughout the year — to ensure that pharmacists’ voices are heard by legislators.

Actually, it’s more than the legislature. Regulations, interpretation, and enforcement by Georgia’s various departments and offices — think of the Board of Pharmacy, the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency, the Composite Medical Board, among others — can often affect pharmacists. We’re on top of those, too.

Each year we develop an advocacy agenda, based strongly on input from members. Those are the bills we focus on passing with the help of pharmacy-friendly legislators and our advocacy team. In addition to those, there are often other pieces of legislation we keep an eye on, either because we want them to pass or we want them to fail.

Relationships and issues

Even without a specific bill or regulation to work on, GPhA is always working to build relationships with policy makers on a state and national level.

All this means our staff stays abreast of current issues that could impact the profession of pharmacy — your practice and your patients. And we want to keep members informed as well. We send out news briefs with useful information, and calls to action when we need our membership to rise up to get out message out.

We work hard, and it pays off. Over the years, GPhA has been a driving force behind important legislation to benefit not just the pharmacy profession, but also our patients. In 2015 alone we expanded the immunizations Georgia pharmacists can provide and we’ve made the process of MAC pricing and reimbursement more transparent and more fair.

Got questions? Contact Greg Reybold: greybold@gpha.org or (404) 419-8118. He can fill you in on anything you need to know.

Why advocacy is important

Getting to know your legislators is a great idea. They’re real people, and yes, they listen. So invite them to your pharmacy. Take them for coffee. The important thing is that they hear from you, their constituent. You’re a much better lobbyist for pharmacy issues than GPhA’s lobbying team can be on its own.

To help prepare you for that task, we teamed up last year with the College of Pharmacy at UGA to produce a couple of instructional videos.

The first is a reminder about the importance of your grassroots efforts to keep your legislators informed:

The second is our shot at a guide for how to talk to your legislator: