The Pulse

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

High court preserves all ACA subsidies

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.

John Roberts

John Roberts

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

Smoking not extinguished in bars, restaurants

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.

Cigarette BurningThe 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

Consumer Corner

Benefits of sports to a kid’s mind, heart

Parents talk about sports teaching their children about discipline, dedication and how to get along with others.

Around the State

Atlanta: Urban farming

A thriving urban farm in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward has been providing the community with fresh fruits and vegetables for almost 10 years now.

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Running race with prosthetic

A Carrollton man who lost his leg after a hit-and-run crash will run in this year’s Peachtree Road Race with a prosthetic leg.

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The ACA and minorities

The director of health policy at the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse, Dr. Harry Heiman, discussed how Obamacare is faring among minorities.

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Dalton: Rare condition

A few minutes after her daughter was born, Paisley Suddeth was told Mallorie had a rare congenital defect that affected the arrangement of the organs in her body.

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Dalton Daily Citizen

Floyd: Domestic violence

Hospitality House has provided services to child and adult survivors of domestic abuse since 1978.

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Rome News-Tribune


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