Two Cartersville ob/gyns filed suit Tuesday to overturn the state’s health care regulatory process, saying it restricts competition and is unconstitutional.
Drs. Hugo Ribot and Malcolm Barfield are challenging the Georgia certificate-of-need program, a complex set of regulations governing the creation and expansion of medical facilities.
The CON process has long been controversial because hospitals often use it to challenge competitors’ proposed projects. It has also pitted doctors against hospitals in battles over building surgery centers.
The physicians’ lawsuit asserts that Georgia’s CON laws “are a restraint on competition, economic liberty, and consumer choice.”
The CON regulations “encourage and facilitate state-granted monopolies and have the effect of restricting competition in the provision of health care services,” the lawsuit says. full story
The recently named CEO of Piedmont Atlanta Hospital says being a doctor will give him an advantage in his new role.
Dr. Patrick Battey
“As a physician, seeing what the nuts and bolts of what our patients are going through brings an additional lens’’ to the position, said Dr. Patrick Battey, who will take over as CEO in January.
Battey, 61, a vascular surgeon, has been co-CEO of Piedmont Atlanta Hospital with Les Donahue, who is retiring at the end of the year.
It’s uncommon for a physician to serve as CEO of a major Georgia hospital. full story
This Wednesday, sales of fireworks become legal in Georgia.
The new law may make Saturday’s Fourth of July an especially explosive holiday.
Medical professionals urge safety when setting off fireworks, noting that many people end up in emergency rooms with injuries. This past weekend’s disaster at a crowded celebration in Taiwan, when decorative sprays of colored powder ignited and burned about 500 people, shows the danger of carelessness with potentially dangerous substances.
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta says burns are the most common fireworks-related injury to all parts of the body except the eyes, where contusions, lacerations, and foreign bodies in the eyes occur more frequently.
Dr. Natalie Lane, medical director of the Children’s Hospital of Georgia Emergency Department in Augusta, says, “A sparkler can burn as hot as a blowtorch; and, unfortunately, we have had to treat children with sparkler burns several times. But these are avoidable injuries, if families will carefully follow safety procedures.” full story
The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 6-3 ruling Thursday, upheld the Affordable Care Act subsidies that have helped millions of Americans, including 412,000 Georgians, obtain insurance coverage.
The ruling was hailed as a huge victory for President Obama and for the ACA, although the constitutionality of the 2010 law was not in dispute in this case.
The justices ruled that federal subsidies can be offered in insurance exchanges run by the federal government, as they are in Georgia and 33 other states.
The plaintiffs in the case argued that the health law did not permit such subsidies in states that have federally operated exchanges. The pointed to the ACA’s language, which says the subsidies are available through an exchange that was “established by the State.”
“Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court’s majority. “If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter.” full story
Ten years ago, the Georgia Legislature passed a law prohibiting smoking in bars and restaurants. It was promoted as a way to improve “the health, comfort and environment’’ of Georgians.
The law, still in effect, has some exemptions, including allowing smoking in an establishment if it prohibits entry to anyone under age 18.
Despite the 2005 law, a recent study from Georgia State University found some surprising results on smoking.
Researchers found that the percentage of Georgia restaurants and bars allowing smoking nearly doubled in the first six years after the law’s passage.
Georgia State researchers also found a significant number of owners taking advantage of exemptions in the law.
The percentage of restaurants and bars in Georgia that allowed smoking rose from 9.1 percent in 2006 to 17.6 percent in 2012, according to the study, published last month in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease: Public Health Research, Practice and Policy. full story