Legislative Update and Action Alert
Legislative Update, Week Four and Five
Grassroots activity is critical at this time. All APRN’s in Georgia need to establish communication with your State Representatives and State Senators. Leave them with a page or two from your Professional Association materials explaining who you are (Including your scope of practice, education and certification, what you do, and the barriers you face in providing access to quality, efficient and cost-effective health care to your patients. As our legislation proceeds, the legislators who vote on it need to HEAR FROM YOU, YOUR PATIENTS, and SUPPORTIVE PHYSICIANS. Without this grassroots activity our ability to counter the message of organized medicine is severely limited. Please e-mail me with a brief report of any legislative contact and the result, as well as copies of any letters of support you generate.
Email address: legislation@CAPRN.org
Legislative Update, Week Four and Five
The pace of the 2011 General Assembly has proceeded at a particularly slow and measured pace. Few bills than usual have been introduced as yet and even fewer have been passed out of committee as a new government and many new legislatures organize themselves. Also the horrendous budget challenges of this session have taken priority over new legislation.
APRN Legislative Notes
APRN bill draft has been discussed with Rep. Tom Weldon who will serve as sponsor. The draft will be in circulation as co-sponsors sign and review said legislation. Updates will be posted once a bill number is assigned. Behind the scenes discussions have commenced about components of the bill and what strategies would best advance the APRN priorities.
New Proposed Legislation
Please review as to how any of these bills could affect your practice and communicate your concerns to legislation@CAPRN.org
HB99- By Representative Clark; A BILL to be entitled an Act to amend Article 2 of Chapter 26 of Title 43 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to licensed practical nurses, so as to require fingerprint record checks for applicants for licensure as a licensed practical nurse; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.
HB 147 – Rep. Ben Watson (R-Savannah) proposed changes to the "Patient Right to Know Act of 2001" in Chapter 34A of Title 43 to include information as to whether a physician has medical practice insurance as a part of the physician profile and it would further permit the patient to make the inquiry as to whether the physician carries medical malpractice insurance.
HB 145 – Rep. Matt Hatchett (R-Dublin) authored this initiative amending definitions in the "Georgia Physical Therapy Act" at O.C.G.A. § 43-33-3(7) adding "dry needling" to the definition of "physical therapy."
HB 214 – Rep. Mickey Channell (R-Greensboro) authored this amendment to Title 31 adding a new Chapter 2A to establish a new Department of Public Health. This Bill would reassign functions of the Division of Public Health currently housed in the Department of Community Health and create a new department with a Board and Commissioner of Public Health. Within this new Department would be regulations of food service establishments; rules and regulations for nutritional screenings and eye, ear, and dental examinations of students; reporting of disabled newborns; and etc. It would also have attached to it an Office of Women's Health.
SB 63 – Sen. John Albers (R-Fulton) introduced this amendment to Title 49, which would enact the "Georgia Medical Assistance Fraud Prevention Program" and would be implemented by the Department of Community Health. The idea is to use "smart cards" for the Medicaid and PeachCare programs so that participants in those programs would utilize those cards when accessing services through one of the State's providers. Specifically, in O.C.G.A. § 49-4-202, it would require that the Department establish this initiative, and use a third-party vendor for implementation and maintenance of the program. Before rolling out the program statewide, a pilot initiative would be established for a minimum period of three months, and not to exceed a total of six months, within Glynn, Ware, Pierce, Wayne, Camden, and Brantley counties. The pilot program would involve the distribution of fingerprint scanners and card readers at each provider location within the designated counties. The Department would implement the pilot program before October 1, 2011. The idea would be to "authenticate" recipients at the beginning and completion of each point of transaction in order to prevent card sharing other fraud. The smart cards would include recipients' prescription history information in order to assist in prevention of drug overutilization and to mitigate costs and risks associated with prescription drugs. Sensitive information would be stored and split into multiple parts and encrypted, with one part being stored on the host data base. Biometric fingerprint scanners and card readers would be used for "real time" and be required to be used at each point of transaction with provider. These secure finger-imaging systems would be required to be compliant with the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, P.L. 104-191.
SB 81 – Sen. Buddy Carter (R-Savannah) introduced changes to Georgia's Pharmacy Code found in Chapter 4 of Title 26. One change relates to the powers, duties, and authority of the State Board of Pharmacy found in O.C.G.A. § 26-4-28(7) regarding the registration and regulation of pharmacy technicians. It would require them to submit to mental or physical examinations by licensed health care providers designated by the board of pharmacy. Those results would be admissible in any hearing before the board.
Day 13 of the Legislative Session proved to be constructive with the House passing its version of the FY 2011 Amended Budget in HB 77. HB 77, per Chairman England, is being released from the House the earliest it has in recent memory. Chairman England acknowledged that FY 2012 Budget will require more hours of work. Roughly, it is a Budget containing slightly more than $18 billion in funding. Approximately $589 million was cut and the cuts to the budget will impact many services.
House Health and Human Services Committee
Chairwoman Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta) hosted her first Committee meeting of the 2011 Session during week 4, introducing the new Members of the Committee and staff to all attendees. New House Members include the following Representatives: Josh Clark; Valerie Clark; Matt Hatchett; Ben Watson; BJ Pak; and Mickey Channell.
Rep. Valerie Clark presented HB 99 to the Committee, explaining that the legislation was being brought at the request of the Secretary of State and its licensing division for LPNs. She noted it was a "housekeeping" proposal to provide for fingerprint checks to be made on LPNs who have applied for licensure. At present, there are 2,500 licenses requested annually and the licensing board has found 5-10% with "issues" such as having alcohol consumption on their job sites or other such problems. This added fingerprint would not cost the State more as there is a $25 fee for license applications. The board uses a third-party vendor, Cogent, to work with the GBI in making these background checks (the fingerprint checks are done for RNs). Rep. Joe Wilkinson (R-Atlanta) moved that the Bill pass and his motion carried without discussion.
Senate Health and Human Services Committee
Among actions and discussions from this Committee, a presentation was made by the Atlanta Community Food Bank and its sister food banks about the work which they perform across all 159 counties in Georgia. Last year, the General Assembly eliminated the sales and use tax exemption that the Food Banks held. That exemption allowed these nonprofit entities to purchase more foods to help needy families. The Food Banks asked for support because of the shortage of resources and pressing logistics issues. Sen. Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta) asked for additional information from the Food Banks on their maintenance of efforts as they supply the Department of Human Services the ability to draw down more federal funding.