Legislative Notebook: Bill could head off ER visits

March 11, 2013 

Georgians who have limited access to health care, whether because of poverty or simple distance to a hospital, might avoid a visit to an emergency room if they get home check-ins from medical professionals, said state Rep. James Beverly, D-Macon.

Beverly filed a bill that would set up a pilot program to try it out.

His House Bill 546 would allow select people to opt into regular visits from protocol technicians. A protocol technician, Beverly said, is a medical data entry worker who uploads a patient’s temperature, blood glucose level and other vital signs to someone such as a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant at a central site. Then that person can look for signs of trouble and make recommendations to patients.

The bill is based on a preventative health program already under way in Maryland, and can get federal funding, said Beverly, an optometrist. State Rep. Ben Watson, R-Savannah, a primary care physician, co-signed the bill.

But they must wait until January for any chance of passage. The annual state legislative session this year is more than three-quarters over, too late to consider new bills.

WR veterans school set for House approval

The idea of a $10 million bond to build a skilled trade college campus aimed at military veterans in Warner Robins is in the finalized House Appropriation Committee’s proposed spending bill for next year, bringing it a step closer to reality.

Gov. Nathan Deal has already announced support for the project, and House Bill 106 is set to get full House approval in the coming days. If the Senate also OKs the so-called gateway center, funding would start some time in the fiscal year beginning in July.

-- Maggie Lee

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