The Pulse

State takes action on Blue Cross contracts

Georgia’s insurance commissioner, in a rare regulatory action, has told the state’s largest health insurer to rescind newly added amendments to contracts with thousands of physicians.

clipboardPhysicians had complained that the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia contract revisions lacked clarity on the insurer’s payment rates for medical services.

“I heard from doctors all over the state about the heavy-handed approach taken by Blue Cross regarding their contract changes,” said Commissioner Ralph Hudgens in a statement.  “I want doctors spending time caring for their patients, not being stonewalled by an insurance company.”

Consumers should not be affected by the move, insurance department officials say, as the existing physician contracts remain intact.

Blue Cross said in a statement Thursday that it had been working with Hudgens and the insurance department for several weeks to resolve the issue. full story

Free of Ebola, nurse discharged from Emory

Texas nurse Amber Vinson was discharged Tuesday from Emory University Hospital, becoming the fourth patient with Ebola to be successfully treated at the Atlanta facility.

Amber Vinson

Amber Vinson

“I’m so grateful to be well,” Vinson said in a statement to reporters. “With God, all things are possible.”

Vinson, 29, and fellow nurse Nina Pham, 26, contracted Ebola at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas while caring for Thomas Eric Duncan, a recent arrival from West Africa who died of the disease early this month.

The two women remain the only people known to have been infected with the disease within the United States. Their diagnoses a few days apart raised fears across the nation, but did not signal a wave of infections. Pham was released last week after successful treatment at a National Institutes of Health hospital in Bethesda, Md. full story

Commentary: This is not Europe

Socialized, European-style health care.

That’s one of the descriptions of the Affordable Care Act offered by critics of the health reform law.

Katja Ridderbusch

Katja Ridderbusch

In a new GHN Commentary, a German journalist says the issue is not that simple. She notes how health care systems in Europe differ from one another and how they differ from the U.S. system under Obamacare.

Many Americans view the government requirement to buy insurance as “a constraint on their personal freedom,’’  Katja Ridderbusch writes in her Commentary.

But she adds that “most Europeans view mandatory insurance as peace of mind, providing the freedom of not having to worry about exploding medical costs and instead, being able to focus on whatever they consider important in their lives.”

Here is a link to her Commentary.

Georgia Health News welcomes Commentary submissions. If you would like to propose a Commentary piece for Georgia Health News, please email Andy Miller, editor of GHN, at

Ebola ‘hot zone’ immigrants numerous in ATL area

About 90 percent of Georgia residents who were born in two Ebola-ravaged West African nations live in six metro Atlanta counties, a map produced by public health officials shows.

That map, along with one charting refugees from Liberia and Sierra Leone, was created by the Department of Public Health to help its “outreach and educational efforts” on Ebola, said DPH spokesman Ryan Deal.

“This is especially important as the holidays approach, giving rise to increased travel as families unite,’’ Deal said in an email to GHN.

The agency did not calculate the numbers of people living in Georgia from Guinea, the third West African country devastated by the current outbreak of the disease.

Meanwhile on Monday, Gov. Nathan Deal announced new, tougher monitoring measures for people who have come into contact with Ebola patients in Africa. Some travelers would be subject to quarantine under the new policy even if they showed no symptoms of the disease.

Broad quarantines are being implemented elsewhere. New Jersey and New York introduced strict regulations last week, followed quickly by Illinois. The regulations apply to aid workers operating in West Africa, regardless of whether they have shown symptoms of the deadly virus.

West_African_map2(Click map to enlarge)

Since the summer, much Ebola-related activity has occurred in Atlanta and Georgia. The CDC has more than 100 workers in the three West African nations and operates a special SWAT-like team to respond to new infections in the United States. full story

Personal health: Sticker shock at pharmacy

My recent sinus infection came on suddenly and painfully. After diagnosing it, my physician e-prescribed me an antibiotic.

cohdra_100_9279This is tricky territory for me. I’m sensitive to some antibiotics. Years ago, I took a couple of varieties to treat similar infections, and wound up with oral thrush in one case and C. difficile in another. Both were 100 times worse than the original ailment.

My physician knew this history. He prescribed a two-week supply of doxycyline hyclate, a dependable antibiotic that he felt I could tolerate well, partly because I had handled it well in the past.

So I headed to my pharmacy to pick up the “doxy.”

“It’s one seventeen,’’ said the clerk, in an oddly sheepish way.

I pulled a dollar from my wallet and extracted some change from my pants pocket.

She looked at the money and said, “No. It’s a hundred and seventeen dollars.’’

“Whoa,’’ I said. “$117?” full story

Consumer Corner

More than 100 genes linked to autism

Researchers have identified more than 100 genes that are mutated in children with autism.

Around the State

Law backs Ebola quarantine

The law in Georgia pretty clearly gives the Georgia Department of Public Health commissioner the authority to quarantine without a court order, the department said.

Read the full article:
Augusta Chronicle

Coweta: Health care boost

Coweta County has taken the lead as the strongest job market in the region over the past year with an employment gain of 8.1 percent, with health care supplying a boost.

Read the full article:
Newnan Times-Herald

Newton: School attendance

Alarm over word that a Newton High teacher may have come into contact with a person who had been in West Africa appears to subsiding, as attendance returned to normal.

Read the full article:
Rockdale Citizen

Macon: Cancer center

The new Peyton Anderson Cancer Center is scheduled to start seeing patients Nov. 17.

Read the full article:
Macon Telegraph

Ebola czar visiting CDC

U.S. Ebola czar Ron Klain will be in Atlanta on Thursday for meetings at the CDC headquarters with Dr. Tom Frieden and other officials.

Read the full article:
Atlanta Business Chronicle


University of Georgia College of Public Health Logo

(Click on the logo for more information about our sponsors.)

Foundation Support for GHN:

Healthcare Georgia Foundation
Kaiser Permanente
Reynolds Charitable Fund
Georgia Health Foundation