New Georgia laws will expand tax relief for nonprofits, increase oversight of pharmacy benefit managers and change regulation of certain local government decisions.
Gov. Brian Kemp signed the handful of bills into law last week.
With the signing of Senate Bill 43, local governments that own or invest in electric services worth $300 million or less no longer are required to have a bond referendum to approve investments for improvements. The law took effect Wednesday.
The legislation was proposed in the Senate in 2019 by Sen. Chuck Payne, R-Dalton, and approved in February 2019 with a 42-12 vote.
The bill was presented on the House floor by Rep. Kasey Carpenter, R-Dalton, in June. It then passed the House, 91-75.
Lawmakers who opposed the legislation said it limits residents’ right to vote. Under the previous law, a majority vote was required to issue the bond.
Payne also proposed Senate Bill 104, which, along with SB 43, was signed and became law Wednesday.
It extends sales tax exemption of purchases made by and items donated to nonprofit health centers and food banks and expands sales tax exemption to blood banks to include organizations that collect organs.
“SB 43 and SB 104 not only represent years of hard work, listening to the concerns of constituents, but they also reflect a future of growth. By taking the initiative to support our local businesses and key industries, we are able to ensure that Georgia remains a great place to live, work and raise a family for years to come,” Payne said.
Kemp also signed House Bill 946 on Wednesday. It increases the regulation of pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs) in Georgia.
PBMs are subcontractors that often dictate how much a pharmacy can charge a customer for prescription medications. Health insurance companies and Medicaid pay PBMs to negotiate prices with drug manufacturers on their behalf and maintain medication lists.
Drug manufacturers set the list price, which is the real cost of the drug without health care coverage. However, PBMs often obtain rebates or discounts on the list price.
HB 946 allows physicians who work for or contracted by PBMs to only consult patients under the scope of their specialty. They must have been an expert in the specific field for five years.
It also recommends that the Department of Community Health require PBMs to enter into contracts with licensed Georgia physicians. Under the law, PBMs must submit a pricing report to the Georgia Department of Insurance every four months and pass on 100 percent of all rebates that it receives from pharmaceutical manufacturers to health insurance plans.
Kemp signed House Bill 918 on Tuesday, which gives pharmacies more leeway in the amount of time before and after audits, limits the number of prescriptions that can be audited and lowers penalties for errors.
Both PBM laws will take effect Jan. 1 , 2021.
Rep. David Knight, R-Griffin, a sponsor of both pharmacy-related bills, said they are the “toughest laws” on PBM operations to date. Both bills received bipartisan support.
“These bills help the state ensure that Georgians are receiving their prescriptions at fair and competitive prices, as well as reducing the burden PBMs place on taxpayer funds,” Knight said. “I am proud of the Georgia House Majority Caucus’ work to make drastic improvements to better regulate how PBMs operate in our state, while safeguarding Georgians, especially during this economic and public health crisis.”
Source: The Centersquare