The Pulse

Merger mania: Aetna to buy Humana

Insurance giant Aetna said Friday that it has agreed to buy rival Humana for $37 billion in a deal that reflects the rampant consolidation in health care.

aetThe acquisition, if approved by shareholders and regulators, will roughly double Aetna’s membership in Georgia.

Connecticut-based Aetna has roughly 700,000 Georgia members in its health plans, while Louisville, Ky.-based Humana covers 692,000 in Georgia.  full story

Alcoholics Anonymous convention hits Atlanta

Chase S. began drinking as a high school freshman in Cobb County.

“I drank pretty heavily,’’ he says now.

int_conv_2015_logoBut just before he turned 18, Chase got sober, turning to Alcoholics Anonymous for help.

“It’s a fellowship program that saved my life,’’ says Chase, now 28.

He’s joining thousands of A.A. members Thursday through Sunday at the  2015 International Convention of Alcoholics Anonymous in Atlanta. More than 60,000 people are expected at the conference, representing 93 countries. full story

Doctors’ suit aims to topple state’s CON rules

Two Cartersville ob/gyns filed suit Tuesday to overturn the state’s health care regulatory process, saying it restricts competition and is unconstitutional.

iStock_000023217379LargeDrs. 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

Piedmont’s next leader: A doctor in charge

The recently named CEO of Piedmont Atlanta Hospital says being a doctor will give him an advantage in his new role.

Dr. Patrick Battey

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

Legalized fireworks can still be dangerous

This Wednesday, sales of fireworks become legal in Georgia.

Fireworks_June_23_2012The 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

Consumer Corner

New teen drivers ‘crash’ in test

About four in 10 newly licensed teen drivers “crashed” in a simulated driving test.

Around the State

Obesity among minorities

Health officials and community partners came together at the Morehouse School of Medicine to talk about obesity among minorities.

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Boating patrol hits lakes

The Department of Natural Resources expects waterways to be far busier than usual this holiday weekend, so rangers will be increasing efforts to keep the waters safe statewide.

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Augusta Chronicle

Steroid distribution scheme

Federal prosecutors say four Georgia men have been sentenced in a steroid distribution scheme involving raw materials imported from China.

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Associated Press

Ebola training center

HHS named Emory University as lead coordinating center of the National Ebola Training and Education Center.

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Atlanta Business Chronicle

Clinic incident ‘unacceptable’

The VA secretary, citing a troubling Oakwood incident, says the agency has made progress but still has a long way to go.

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Macon Telegraph


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