Rural hospitals aren’t the only Georgia medical facilities bleeding red ink.
Southern Regional Medical Center in Riverdale, near the world’s busiest airport, has been losing money since 2007. And in its last fiscal year, the loss was $20.6 million.
To help the nonprofit hospital stay afloat, Clayton County commissioners this week approved a package of special tax-funded projects that would bring in $50 million to help the 331-bed facility. The SPLOST has to be approved by voters.
“The hospital is in an untenable position if we do not receive community support,’’ Claudia Hall, director of marketing for Southern Regional, told GHN.
She and others say that a Medicaid expansion in Georgia would help the hospital as well.
Southern Regional Medical Center
Four rural hospitals in Georgia have closed in the past two years, citing financial struggles.
A closure of the much larger Southern Regional, just a short drive from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, would be a devastating financial blow to Clayton County. The hospital has 1,850 employees and more than 500 physicians and specialists on the medical staff. full story
More than half of Georgians with HIV are not currently in treatment, health officials say.
A Senate bill aims to bring thousands more of these patients into care.
If enacted, SB 342 would allow the state’s Department of Public Health to alert a physician of a patient’s HIV or AIDS status.
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. Treatments now available can help keep an infection from developing into AIDS, or can help prolong the lives of people who have already developed AIDS.
Under the bill, when someone with HIV arrives for care at a facility, and their medical data show that the individual has not had a regular blood test, Public Health would send a message to the patient’s health care provider about that out-of-care status.
The doctor would then encourage the patient to return to treatment, which includes taking a combination of prescription drugs to suppress their viral load. Antiretroviral therapy doesn’t cure HIV, but stops it from reproducing itself and spreading. full story
The 2014 legislative session was expected to be a quiet one for health care.
Experts predicted that little of significance on health issues would pass before Georgia lawmakers wrapped up a quick, tidy General Assembly session.
The predictions of a dull session were way off target – sort of like picking Denver to beat Seattle in the Super Bowl.
Major bills on medical marijuana, Medicaid expansion, insurance navigators, autism coverage, abortion, foster care, and the Department of Community Health board have all moved through a chamber or were pending for a vote Monday. In the process, these and other health care proposals captured major legislative attention.
Monday, the 30th day of the legislative session, was Crossover Day. That’s a kind of midpoint deadline for bills to advance. A piece of legislation must have passed at least one chamber by midnight on Crossover Day to have a chance at becoming law during the session.
By late afternoon Monday, a handful of bills had moved out of a chamber with clear-cut votes.
A bill to require legislative approval for any Medicaid expansion passed by a 118-57 House vote. The main sponsor of HB 990, Rep. Jan Jones (R-Milton), House speaker pro tempore, said the bill — by adding another obstacle to expansion — would prevent added strain on the state budget and taxpayers. full story
Willie Johnson of Doraville didn’t know what to expect when he went to a recent health care information event in Stone Mountain.
Johnson, a part-time restaurant worker, had no health insurance. So when he heard a spot on radio station V-103 about the event at Berean Christian Church, he decided to find out for himself.
At the church, he met officials with Enroll America, a nonprofit organization seeking to help people gain coverage under the Affordable Care Act. They gave him information about the health insurance exchange that the federal government operates in Georgia.
Soon afterward, Johnson, 47, enrolled in an exchange policy that he says will cost him just $30 a month.
State Rep. Karen Bennett speaks at an education event at Fairfield Baptist Church as Enroll America’s Whitney Horton looks on
The involvement of a church in an ACA enrollment event is not incidental.
Enroll America, federal officials and others working to help uninsured Americans sign up for the new health coverage have frequently tapped churches and other places of worship to host educational events on the ACA, which is often called Obamacare.
Johnson says African-Americans feel at home at such events because “we trust the church.’’ full story
A state House panel Wednesday unanimously approved a bill that would permit medical marijuana to be grown and used in Georgia for treatment of patients with cancer, glaucoma and seizure disorders under tightly controlled restrictions.
State. Rep. Allen Peake
The Health and Human Services Committee’s passage of the high-profile legislation paves the way for the full House to vote on the bill and, if approved, send it to the Senate for consideration.
HB 885, sponsored by Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon), underwent significant revisions to address concerns that the original bill would have unintentionally run afoul of federal law.
Peake championed the legislation, called Haleigh’s Hope Act, after learning of the plight of 4-year-old Haleigh Cox of Monroe County. The girl suffers from epilepsy and endures as many as 100 seizures a day. full story