New laws take effect July 1 in Ga.

New laws take effect July 1 in Ga.
Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta. Photo source: WTOC

ATLANTA, Ga. (WTOC) - July 1st, 2019 marks a new fiscal year for the State of Georgia - which means several new laws will be going into effect.

State Senator Ben Watson says a number of these laws are the result of years of hard work from legislators and advocates.

House Bill 62 was signed into law by Governor Brian Kemp. Starting Monday - medical offices that conduct mammograms are now required to let the patient know when their results show dense breast tissue - which may require additional testing.

The law also states the results summary should include details regarding the next steps and the reason for notification. It was given the nickname “Margie’s Law” in recognition of Margie Singleton. The Savannah resident had a delayed diagnosis, probably due to dense breast tissue.

There are more than 30 states with this type of legislation already in place.

The following are the laws going into effect on Monday, July 1, according to State Senator Ben Watson’s Office:

  • Senate Bill 16 authorizes the Georgia Composite Medical Board to administer the Georgia Interstate Medical Licensure Compact. The new law allows doctors who have a clean disciplinary record to be eligible for an expedited licensure process to practice medicine in Georgia. States entered into the Compact are able to share information with each other regarding the doctor’s disciplinary record and background check information, ensuring our state is allowing the best doctors to participate in this program.
  • Senate Bill 18 allows physicians to provide health care to a patient through a direct primary care agreement without being subject to insurance regulations. A direct primary care agreement allows a patient to directly contract with a doctor, without insurance. For example, you might pay a doctor a set amount for unlimited visits a month. This is generally used for primary care visits and would not be used for emergency visits. This is an alternative to insurance for some, and I think this could help encourage more doctors to practice medicine, particularly in rural parts of our state.
  • Senate Bill 184 requires state employee health insurance plans to pay for services provided by federally qualified health centers at the same rates as Medicare. This provision excludes licensed group health maintenance organizations with exclusive medical contracts.
  • House Bill 39 enters Georgia into the Physical Therapy Licensure Compact to facilitate the licensure of physical therapists who are members of one of the 21 compact member states. Additionally, HB 39 allows the State Board of Physical Therapy to conduct a background check on those applying for a license.
  • House Bill 62 requires health care facilities that conduct mammograms to notify the patient when their results show dense breast tissue. Additionally, HB 62 requires the mammogram results summary to include information regarding next steps and the reason for notification.
  • House Bill 217 exempts syringe services programs from civil and criminal liability for possession, distribution and exchange of hypodermic syringes and needles, regardless of knowledge of its drug-related use.
  • House Bill 228 will raise the minimum age for marriage to 17 years and limit the age difference to four years when a minor is involved. The current marriage age is 16 years.
  • And lastly, the FY 2020 budget, House Bill 31, will take effect on July 1st. There are several budget items that are relevant to our district, including funds for the Port of Savannah, Savannah State, Georgia Southern, Savannah Technical College and the Savannah Logistics and Technology Corridor, which runs along 1-95. However, one of the budget items that has been talked about the most in the news is the $3,000 salary increase for certified teachers and school personnel including counselors, social workers, psychologists, special education specialists and technology specialist. Additionally, the budget addresses a 2% raise for assistant teachers, $1 million for additional high school counselors and programs for Title I schools, and an increase of 25 cents to $15.50 per month for each year of service for the benefit utilized by non-certified school employees, like school bus drivers.

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