The giant health insurance mergers now on the table would reduce the number of major national insurers from five to three.
John Oxendine, Georgia’s former insurance commissioner, believes that a Big Three is not enough for a competitive balance.
“Three is not competitive,’’ Oxendine told GHN last week in an interview. “My personal opinion is that it would be very bad for consumers.”
The two deals – Aetna buying Humana and Anthem buying Cigna – were each announced in July. The former would double Aetna’s size in Georgia, while the latter would add to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia’s big membership lead over other insurers in the state. Anthem is Blue Cross’ parent company.
If both deals ultimately are approved by regulators and shareholders, the two combined companies, Aetna and Anthem, would be part of the new Big Three, with UnitedHealthcare being the other giant national player. full story
The nonprofit owner of Southern Regional Medical Center in Riverdale announced late Thursday that it has filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Northern District of Georgia.
A media release announcing the filing emphasized that Clayton County’s lone hospital will remain open and operating while Southern Regional Health System officials consider a proposed sale of the medical center to a California-based nonprofit.
Southern Regional said it will fulfill its obligations to its employees and vendors, and continue to deliver high-quality medical care. The organization also said it has obtained a commitment for post-bankruptcy financing.
Last week, Prime Healthcare Foundation signed a letter of intent to acquire the 331-bed Riverdale hospital.
Southern Regional Medical Center, reeling from a heavy load of uncompensated care, has been in danger of closing its doors. full story
Atlanta’s Northside Hospital has acquired 22 medical imaging centers in Georgia, expanding its reach in outpatient services.
Northside Hospital in Atlanta
The purchase of MedQuest’s centers in the state brings Northside’s total of imaging centers to 56 in North and Central Georgia.
“We’re committed to a strong outpatient infrastructure,’’ Lee Echols, vice president of marketing and communications for Northside, said Thursday. “The growth of outpatient services is absolutely dramatic.’’
The acquisition price was not disclosed. MedQuest, headquartered in the northern Atlanta suburb of Alpharetta, is a subsidiary of North Carolina-based Novant Health. full story
When signing the bill creating Medicare and Medicaid 50 years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson held the ceremony in Independence, Missouri, where former President Harry Truman lived.
Truman, who had pushed unsuccessfully for national health insurance during his own presidency, was at LBJ’s side during the signing. (And in one of those of odd coincidences of U.S. political history, the two presidents from different eras would die less than a month apart in the early 1970s.)
President Lyndon Johnson signs the Medicare bill into law while Harry Truman (seated) looks on.
The decades-long push to create the two health insurance programs was like “a long-distance run,’’ said Dr. David Satcher, a former U.S. surgeon general, at a Carter Center forum Wednesday.
Satcher added that it was also “like a relay race,’’ noting that Truman handed off the “baton’’ of national insurance to LBJ.
This week, federal officials along with many health care and community organizations are marking the 50th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid, created July 30, 1965. full story
About 3,000 Georgians have been told that some of their health information was inadvertently disclosed.
The data breach affected clients in the Community Care Services Program, which helps people at risk of nursing home placement to remain in their communities.
The program is managed by the Department of Human Services Division of Aging Services, in partnership with Georgia’s 12 Area Agencies on Aging. Overall, CCSP serves about 9,500 people.
The problem involved the unintentional disclosure of certain health diagnoses of program participants through an email to a contracted provider. full story