Georgia OBGyn Society 2023 Legislative Update
Georgia lawmakers returned to the Georgia Capitol on Tuesday, January 9 to commemorate the 2023 Legislative Session. With new leaders in both chambers, the session started on a historical note. After the resignation and passing of the former Speaker of the House, David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge), Jon Burns (R-Newington) was elected Georgia’s 75th Speaker of the House of Representatives. For the first time in memory, the daily legislative schedule was released for the entirety of the session, allowing lobbyists and lawmakers alike to act cohesively upon legislation. The House Health and Human Services Committee was reorganized with Lee Hawkins as Chairman of the Health Committee and Rep. Sharon Cooper was chosen as Chairman of the newly created Public Health Committee. Rep. Butch Parrish (R-Swainsboro) was elected to serve as the House Special Committee on Healthcare Chairman. This committee oversees and coordinates the House’s legislative and budgetary healthcare policy. Over the next 40 days, lawmakers weighed in on everything from rural physician tax credits and prenatal testing of HIV and syphilis to certificate of need and malpractice reform.
The Ga OBGyn Society’s Legislative Committee utilized the 2023 GOGS legislative priorities to monitor and impact critical pieces of legislation. In partnership with the Patient-Centered Physician’s Coalition, the Society produced advocacy webinars and held our annual Day at the Capitol legislative education and networking event.
See below for the GOGS legislative priorities and a summary of key items. A special thank you to Lauren Pollow and Skin Edge for tracking these bills and advocating for Georgia providers and patients.
GOGS 2023 Legislative Priorities
- Increase Medicaid reimbursement rates.
- Promote medical liability reform.
- Secure access to vital reproductive health services
- Repeal restrictive abortion laws.
- Champion enhanced contraceptive service delivery, including new evidence-based models
- Build systems of care that optimize patient access to and foster collaboration between obstetricians and certified nurse midwives/certified midwives.
- Ensure that accredited education and professional certification precede licensure for all delivery providers.
- Support maternal and perinatal mortality reduction efforts, including enhanced access to lactation support, insurance coverage for doula services, and state funding for AIM bundles.
- Improve emergency obstetric transportation in rural areas.
- Expand telehealth access by extending broadband internet services to rural communities.
H.B. 19The F.Y. 24 budget includes funds to increase select primary care and OB/GYN codes to 2021 Medicare levels. Our Patient-Centered Physician’s Coalition partners in Pediatrics, Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, and Osteopathic worked with GOGS on this legislation that will have the most significant impact on providers in rural areas where the payor is predominantly Medicaid. Status: PASSED
H.B. 315 Requires the Department of Insurance to promulgate rules and regulations regarding cost-sharing requirements for the diagnosis of and supplemental breast screening examinations. Status: PASSED
H.B. 470Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta) to enact CANDOR and H.B. 455 by Rep. John LaHood (R-Valdosta) would have provided confidentiality for programs to address physician wellness, including burnout and fatigue in physicians and other health care professionals. Status: DID NOT PASS
H.B. 557 Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah), permits APRNs and P.A.s under a protocol agreement or job description to write a 5-day initial prescription of hydrocodone or oxycodone or their compounds to patients 18 years of age or older with no allowance for subsequent prescriptions. The bill also permits APRNs and PAs to sign the forms for disability placards. Additionally, this legislation would automatically approve nurse protocol agreements and job descriptions where there is a change to the alternate delegating physician or delegating physician within the same or similar specialty or where a delegating physician submits a new protocol or job description with terms and provisions that are substantially the same as a previously submitted protocol or job description. Status: DID NOT PASS
SB 46Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) would require physicians and healthcare providers to test all pregnant women for HIV and syphilis at the first prenatal visit, at 28–32 weeks gestation, and delivery. Status: PASSED
S.B. 81 Sen. Tonya Anderson (D-Lithonia) would have provided for the licensure and regulation of community midwives. GOGS continues to work with our partners in midwifery to establish beneficial partnerships and legislation. Status: DID NOT PASS
S.B. 106 Sen. Larry Walker (R-Perry) creates a three-year pilot program to provide coverage for remote maternal health clinical services under the Medicaid program. Status: PASSED
S.B. 140 Prohibits surgical procedures “performed for the purpose of altering primary or secondary sexual characteristics” and the use of hormone therapy “on a minor for the treatment of gender dysphoria.” The bill, introduced by Sen. Carden Summers (R-Cordele), was amended to remove language barring criminal and civil liability for physicians. Status: PASSED
While there was no reproductive healthcare/abortion legislation passed this session, this is a two-year session which means any legislation that did not pass this year will be available for consideration in 2024. A summary of introduced reproductive legislation is below. None of these bills advanced this session. The GOGS Post Roe committee is closely monitoring a Texas lawsuit considering the approval of mifepristone, a medication provided during medication abortions. A Georgia Supreme Court case, Sistersong v. State of Georgia, challenges Georgia’s HB 481, which bans abortion at approximately six weeks of pregnancy. For updates on these cases and the latest information on reproductive health, please visit us at www.gaobgyn.org/reproductive-health.
H.B. 496 by Rep. Emory Dunahoo is the “Georgia Prenatal Equal Protection Act.” This law seeks to give a fetus equal personhood with a living human at every stage of development from fertilization until birth. Provides Prosecuting attorneys and the Attorney General the authority to prosecute any criminal cases arising from the provisions of this code section to perform any duty in investigating criminal offenses associated with this law.
HB604 by Rep. Charlice Byrd (R-Woodstock) creates personhood from the moment of conception and bans “abortifacients.”
H.R. 413 by Rep. Charlice Byrd (R-Woodstock) creates a Constitutional Amendment around recognizing fetal personhood and the paramount right to life at any stage of development.
S.R. 136 by Senator Gloria Butler (D-Stone Mountain) creates the Reproductive Freedom Act. Recognizes that everyone has the individual right to reproductive freedom which should not be denied, burdened, or infringed upon unless justified by a compelling state interest. Allows for the regulation of abortion care after fetal viability.
H.B. 75 by Rep. Shea Roberts (D-Atlanta)/S.B.15 by Senator Sally Harrell (D-Atlanta) creates the Reproductive Freedom Act. The RFA is a comprehensive bill that not only repeals the restrictions imposed by HB 481 but also enshrines in Georgia law fundamental protections for reproductive freedom and expands access to abortion care for all Georgians.
H.B. 795 by Rep. Viola Davis (D-Stone Mountain) creates an “immaculate conception” clause to provide for equal application and penalties. A prospective father of an unborn fetus shall receive the same penalties as the woman who is the prospective mother of the unborn fetus unless it is medically proven that the woman conceived the unborn fetus solely by immaculate conception.
H.B.796 by Rep. Viola Davis (D-Stone Mountain) relates to restrictions on the performance of abortion, availability of records, and civil cause of action. Enacts a medical oath protection clause. Requires the Georgia Composite Medical Board to initiate an investigation and issue a determination reporting finding of alleged misconduct. Findings are to be made available to the appropriate court prior to adjudication.
H.B. 1 by Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick 9 (D- Lithonia)- Georgia Pro-Birth Accountability Act which provides for the compensation of a pregnant woman who would terminate a child but cannot due to the Heartbeat Bill.