The Pulse

Emory-Adventist Hospital plans to close

Emory-Adventist Hospital announced Wednesday that it will close its doors by the end of October.

The 88-bed hospital, in the suburb of Smyrna just northwest of the city of Atlanta, “is no longer sustainable in today’s dramatically changed health care environment,’’ officials said in a press release. The hospital’s board approved the closure decision Monday.

Emory-Adventist Hospital

The nonprofit facility, a joint venture between Atlanta-based Emory Healthcare and the Florida-based Adventist Health System, employs 400 to 500 people. The employees were notified of the impending closure on Wednesday, said a hospital spokeswoman, Tonya Long.

Emory-Adventist has been losing money, Long said. “Like many hospitals, we’ve faced a lot of financial challenges.” full story

Cutting coal power will save many lives, EPA says

While opponents say the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to reduce carbon emissions will cost jobs and bring higher electric bills, supporters of the proposal have a counter-argument: beneficial health effects.

Dr. LeRoy Graham

Dr. LeRoy Graham

The EPA is holding hearings in Atlanta and three other cities this week on its plan for reducing power plants’ carbon emissions.

Those in favor of the changes say that as coal plants shut down or are replaced with cleaner natural gas, there will be fewer conventional pollutants in the air. Specifically, that means fewer lung-damaging particulates and less ground-level ozone, or smog.

The EPA expects that the resulting cleaner air will mean fewer asthma attacks and hospitalizations, and 2,700 to 6,600 fewer premature deaths per year by 2030.

Dr. LeRoy Graham, a pediatric pulmonologist who practices in the Atlanta area, said Tuesday in a GHN interview that as the carbon “footprint” in the air increases, “people with lung problems are suffering more. The health threats are increasing.’’ full story

State says it’s hard at work on Medicaid backlog

A state health agency says it’s working though the application backlog for Medicaid that recently provoked federal scrutiny.

clipboardThe Department of Community Health has made decisions on eligibility for up to 70 percent of the 88,854 “account transfers” from Georgia’s insurance exchange, the agency said Friday.

The backlog in Georgia is linked to the thousands of people expected to join Medicaid and PeachCare this year as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

These new enrollees are not coming in because of expansion of Medicaid, as is happening in some states, because Georgia has declined to pursue expansion. But Georgia is reported to have tens of thousands of people who are already eligible for Medicaid or PeachCare but have not been getting it. Their names have emerged through the enrollment process in the ACA’s insurance exchange.

“We have been in the process of comparing the information in the account transfers to our various eligibility databases for several weeks,’’ said Pam Keene, Community Health spokeswoman, in an email to GHN. “Those who were found eligible are already receiving benefits. Those who were deemed ineligible have been notified and referred to the [exchange] where appropriate.”

An estimated 18,000 of the transfer files processed have been enrolled in Medicaid or PeachCare, Community Health said. But because the account transfers represent families with possibly more than one person eligible, the number enrolled would be higher. full story

Insurers to pay $11 million in Georgia rebates

A federal rule on health insurers’ spending will bring $11 million in rebates to Georgia individuals and employers this summer.

Federal figures released Thursday show that 304,000 Georgians will benefit from the refunds, with an average rebate of $53 per family, as a result of the “Medical Loss Ratio” (MLR) rule on 2013 insurance plans.

1088819262-1249Created by the Affordable Care Act, the MLR standard generally requires health insurers to spend at least 80 percent of the premium dollars they collect on medical care or activities to improve the quality of health care.

In Georgia, $5.5 million will go to refunds to 180,000 individual consumers, while $5.4 million will go to employers in the small-group market. In both these sectors, the required threshold is 80 percent.

The large employer market, where the minimum requirement is 85 percent, accounts for just $270,000 in refunds in Georgia for last year’s health plans.

Humana plans in Georgia will have to pay the highest amount in rebates — $4.5 million combined in the small-group and large employer market. full story

Merger shows health IT still blooming in Georgia

Seven years ago, Baha Zeidan and two of his Valdosta colleagues entered a local competition for business plans, looking to build on their idea for a health care software startup.

At the time, the three young men, all graduates of Valdosta State University, were working at a medical lab company in the South Georgia city.

The group saw a need for better software for the health care industry, which still was bogged down with paper medical records.

Baha Zeidan

Baha Zeidan

The Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce awarded Zeidan, Douglas Swords and Daniel Henry the first prize of $15,000 for their business plan. The contest award also came with legal and other services.

“That was the start of the company,’’ Zeidan said Wednesday.

Azalea Health, launched in 2008 in Valdosta, “the Azalea City,” focused on providing electronic health records and billing software for physicians, along with software for laboratories.

On Tuesday, seven years after the contest award, the company announced a merger with Alpharetta-based simplifyMD, another private health IT firm. The merged company will have 70 employees and will have offices in Valdosta, Alpharetta and Macon as well as in Gainesville, Fla. full story

Consumer Corner

Teens still lag on HPV vaccinations

The number of preteens and teens getting the HPV vaccine is still dismally low.

Around the State

DFCS pay spurs turnover

Interim DFCS director Bobby Cagle tells a Senate committee that low pay for caseworkers causes a high turnover rate.

Read the full article:
WABE

Smyrna: Same-sex benefits

A policy that would allow the same-sex partners of city employees to receive the same benefits as their heterosexual counterparts is under consideration by Smyrna officials.

Read the full article:
Marietta Daily Journal

Mental health designation

Floyd has requested state approval to have Floyd Behavioral Health Center designated as an Emergency Receiving Facility.

Read the full article:
Rome News-Tribune

Ending sexual violence

A group of teenage boys will gather in a three-day program to educate and provide awareness to males ages 17 to 19 about sexual violence.

Read the full article:
Savannah Morning News

Execs facing federal charges

Two executives are facing federal charges for their alleged involvement in a scheme that involved recruiting pregnant immigrant women to give birth at area hospitals.

Read the full article:
wsbtv.com

Sponsorships



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