The Pulse

Budget focus: Medicaid growth, hep C drugs, SHBP

The state’s Department of Community Health is asking for additional state funds to cover projected Georgia enrollment for Medicaid and PeachCare, which for the first time will exceed 2 million.

Clyde Reese

Clyde Reese

The budget proposal also requests $23 million to cover the high cost of drugs to treat hepatitis C patients in both the midyear fiscal 2016 budget and in the 2017 plan.

The budget plans, approved by Community Health’s board Thursday, now go to Gov. Nathan Deal and then to the Georgia General Assembly for approval.

It would be the second straight year that the agency will not have to cut its base budget, said Community Health Commissioner Clyde Reese. The agency’s current budget is roughly $3 billion in state funds.

Hepatitis C drugs have an astronomical cost, averaging more than $30,000 per patient per month in retail price. But states, including Georgia, can get a discount on that price for their Medicaid programs that could reach 40 percent. full story

South Georgia teen rests after beating the plague

The first Georgia patient ever diagnosed with the plague is recovering at home after a week in a Thomasville hospital.

Hannah Lindquist, 18, probably was bitten by an infected flea while hiking with her family in Yosemite National Park in California, her father, Ben, told GHN on Wednesday.

Hannah, under doctors’ orders, will take a semester off from Valdosta State University, where she is a sophomore majoring in biology and pre-med, said Ben Lindquist, an attorney in Thomasville.

Hannah Lindquist in the hospital

Hannah Lindquist in the hospital

“Although still on Doxycycline [an antibiotic], medically Hannah is cured and is now in the process of recuperating and regaining her strength,’’ noted her father. “Thankfully, all Hannah’s tests have returned normal.”

He added, though, that “Hannah’s doctors have cautioned it will be a while before she’s feeling 100 percent.”

Lindquist credited “God’s mercy,” his wife’s quick action, and a doctor prescribing the right antibiotic as helping save Hannah’s life. full story

‘Narrow’ networks are the exchange norm here

Georgia had the highest percentage of “narrow’’ insurance networks in the 2014 health exchanges, a new report says.

Healthcare CostFive of six Georgia “Silver” exchange plans last year had medical provider networks with a limited choice of doctors, the report said.

The 83 percent of Georgia plans having narrow networks surpassed that of all other states, according to University of Pennsylvania researchers.

The report, released Monday, said health insurers are using narrow networks to keep premiums down as consumers shop for coverage on the exchanges, created under the Affordable Care Act. full story

Pediatricians, facing new realities, form network

More than 1,100 Georgia pediatricians have joined a new physician-led network that aims to improve quality of care and eventually contract for payments from insurers.

The sign-ups so far represent roughly one-third of the total number of pediatricians practicing in the state.

Dr. Bob Wiskind

Dr. Robert Wiskind

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta helped create the nonprofit entity, called the Children’s Care Network.

Dr. Robert Wiskind, an Atlanta pediatrician who is the network’s board chairman, told GHN recently that members will share  national “best practices’’ of medical care, such as identifying which children with concussions need to get a CT scan.

The doctors, who practice in the Atlanta region, will also share data on how the care they each give to kids compares with the care given by their peers.

The creation of the Children’s Care Network comes at a time of dramatic change in the way medical providers are paid for their services. full story

Carter says cancer has reached his brain

Former President Jimmy Carter said Thursday that the cancer originally found in his liver has spread to his brain.

Carter, speaking at an Atlanta news conference, also said he would receive his first radiation treatment later Thursday.

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“Four spots of melanoma’’ have been found on his brain, he told a media throng at the Carter Center.

Carter, 90, the only Georgian ever to become U.S. president, announced his cancer diagnosis last week. On Thursday, he appeared remarkably upbeat while discussing his illness for the first time, even showing his sense of humor at several junctures. He also showed his deep religious faith.

After finding out the cancer had spread to his brain, Carter said, “I just thought I had a few weeks left, but I was surprisingly at ease. I’ve had a wonderful life. It’s in God’s hands. I’ll be prepared for anything that comes.”  full story

Consumer Corner

Texting helps diabetes patients

Mobile technology can help diabetes patients with the process of titrating their dosage without having to see a doctor.

Around the State

Savannah: Student shot, killed

A Savannah State University student was fatally wounded Thursday night during an altercation at the student union.

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Savannah Morning News

Spread of chemicals

Chemicals from a Superfund site near Brunswick move up and down the Georgia coast by traveling up the food chain.

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WABE

Coweta: Crisis center opens

A walk-in mental health crisis center has now opened in Newnan.

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Newnan Times-Herald

Warner Robins: Theft case

The former office manager of a thriving surgical practice has been charged with embezzling more than $1 million from her former employer.

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Macon Telegraph

25 acres for med cannabis

Just 25 acres would be enough space to cultivate all of the marijuana needed to treat the patients in Georgia with eight conditions, a California grower told a state commission.

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Athens Banner-Herald

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