The Pulse

Health data breach affects thousands

About 3,000 Georgians have been told that some of their health information was inadvertently disclosed.

dhslogoThe data breach affected clients in the Community Care Services Program, which helps people at risk of nursing home placement to remain in their communities.

The program is managed by the Department of Human Services Division of Aging Services, in partnership with Georgia’s 12 Area Agencies on Aging. Overall, CCSP serves about 9,500 people.

The problem involved the unintentional disclosure of certain health diagnoses of program participants through an email to a contracted provider. full story

Mega-merger would bolster Blue Cross here

Anthem’s agreement to buy Cigna for $48 billion, if consummated, would cement the dominant position of Georgia’s leading health insurer.

The insurer deal, announced Friday, follows the merger agreement announced earlier this month between two other insurance heavyweights, Aetna and Humana. And both fit into the picture of fast-paced consolidation across the health care industry, partly driven by changes from the Affordable Care Act.

clipboardIf both consolidations are approved by regulators and shareholders, the national effect would be huge, with the number of large, for-profit health insurers shrinking from five to three.

Indianapolis-based Anthem is the parent company of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, which is the big player in the Peach State, with about 3 million members here.

Cigna officials here could not be reached for comment, but one industry estimate put that insurer’s health plan and Medicare membership in Georgia at roughly 600,000. full story

WellStar in talks to buy Tenet’s hospitals in state

(Updated at 2:15 p.m.)

WellStar Health System, fresh from abandoning a proposed deal with Emory Healthcare, has now landed a new potential partner.

The Marietta-based WellStar is beginning negotiations with Tenet Healthcare to buy Tenet’s five hospitals in Georgia — all in greater metro Atlanta.

North Fulton Hospital

North Fulton Hospital

The two organizations issued a statement Thursday confirming the start of “exclusive, non-binding discussions’’ about a potential sale of Tenet’s Atlanta-area hospitals and other facilities to WellStar.

“This is to ensure that these hospitals and facilities are best positioned to meet the needs of their communities and continue delivering high-quality health care for many years to come,’’ said the statement.

WellStar and Tenet declined further comment about the potential deal.

The wave of consolidation in the health care business was also evident elsewhere Thursday, with reports on a looming deal by Anthem to acquire fellow insurer Cigna. full story

Deal may save faltering Clayton hospital

Last month, a consulting firm was hired to find a financial partner to rescue the ailing Southern Regional Medical Center.

img-stock-IMG_2483It looks like a match has been made.

Prime Healthcare Foundation, a nonprofit based in California, has signed a letter of intent to acquire the Riverdale hospital. The Clayton County commissioners approved that letter Tuesday.

The parties will move toward negotiating and executing the terms of an acquisition of Southern Regional. The health system’s board and the local hospital authority must sign off on the deal.

Southern Regional, saddled with a heavy burden of uncompensated care, has been in danger of closing its doors.  full story

Poll finds big gaps in rural health care

Most rural Georgia residents in a new survey say they have experienced problems with the affordability of health insurance and the cost of health care.

Healthcare CostWhen asked the biggest problem facing local health care, 68 percent named cost, with quality of care and access to care trailing far behind, according to the survey of 491 people. It was conducted by Opinion Savvy and commissioned by Healthcare Georgia Foundation.

The poll may be the first to focus entirely on rural health care issues in Georgia. It comes in the wake of four rural hospital closings in the state since the beginning of 2013.

Those hospitals closed due to financial problems, and the economic and medical effects of their loss have drawn the attention of Georgia’s political leadership.

Across America, rural residents generally lag far behind people in other areas when it comes to health and quality of medical care.  full story

Consumer Corner

Lowering prices for cancer drugs

Cancer drugs can cost a $120,000 a year, and out-of-pocket expenses for the insured can run $25,000 to $30,000.

Around the State

DeKalb: Boil water advisory

All 700,000 residents in DeKalb County are still under a boil water advisory days after a water main broke.

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Rape evidence demands

Georgia law enforcement agencies have swamped the state crime lab with requests to provide DNA analysis on “rape kits.”

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Augusta Chronicle

Floyd creating ACO

The Floyd Healthcare Management board is expected to create a new subsidiary consisting of an Accountable Care Organization.

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Rome News-Tribune

Chatham: Mosquito control

Chatham County Mosquito Control has evidence that the Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus is circulating in the mosquito population.

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Savannah Morning News

Theater gunman’s Ga. link

A man who lost his family, home and businesses did not say a word as he opened fire on strangers in a darkened movie theater.

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Associated Press


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