U.S. District Court Judge Louis Sands has issued a temporary restraining order against further moves by Phoebe Putney Health System to consolidate with the former Palmyra Medical Center in Albany.
The ruling had been sought by the Federal Trade Commission. Phoebe Putney officials said in a statement that the judge’s action won’t alter day-to-day operations at the former Palmyra, which was purchased from HCA and has been renamed Phoebe North.
The FTC’s Richard Feinstein noted Wednesday in a statement that the ruling also prohibits “any price changes to existing health-plan contracts, pending our Motion for Preliminary Injunction.” A hearing on that motion has been scheduled for June 14, said Feinstein, who is director of the agency’s Bureau of Competition.
Here’s a link to Sands’ order.
It’s the latest legal step in a battle that has lasted more than two years. full story
A statewide helpline for child abuse prevention is being revived.
Prevent Child Abuse Georgia aims to re-establish a 1-800 helpline by the end of the year, thanks to a foundation grant.
The helpline went out of service in 2011, when PCA Georgia itself was closed down for financial reasons. The helpline had handled more than 10,000 calls in the first four years of its operation, GHN reported in 2011. It provided Georgians concerned about the welfare of a child with access to information, support and links to community resources.
The Prevent Child Abuse organization reopened several months after closing, and is now housed at the Center for Healthy Development in Georgia State’s Institute of Public Health.
A $165,000 challenge grant from the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation will put the helpline back in business, said Julia Neighbors, director of PCA Georgia.
The helpline “was an important and valuable resource,’’ Neighbors said Wednesday. “This was a gap we want to close.’’ full story
Among Gov. Nathan Deal’s five vetoes this year, probably the most surprising one targeted a bill that would have given sales tax breaks to charitable medical clinics, federally qualified health centers, food banks and other charities.
The measure, House Bill 193, had overwhelming legislative support. It passed the House unanimously during the 2013 legislative session, and the Senate approved it 52-2.
The legislation would have restored sales tax exemptions for community health centers and volunteer charity clinics – tax breaks that had sunset (expired automatically) in 2010. Other exemptions would have gone to food banks; hunger relief nonprofits; food donated for disaster relief; and for Goodwill.
If the bill had not been vetoed, medical and other supplies that these nonprofits buy would not have a sales tax imposed. The fiscal impact of the bill would have been a total of $9 million over three years in state and local tax revenue.
Deal’s veto message on HB 193 notes that a 2010 tax reform council recommended that all non-government and non-business exemptions sunset so the Legislature can decide whether they justify being renewed.
Deal said in his message that he would ask the Competitiveness Initiative task force to review the bill and render an opinion on whether it is justified.
But Alan Essig of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute told GHN in an interview Tuesday that this principle of reviewing tax breaks “was used selectively’’ by the governor. Deal signed a tax break bill that will benefit Gulfstream, and that will cost the state more in tax revenue than the break for charities would have, Essig said. full story
Amber Tench did her homework before deciding to enter a two-year nursing program last year. She talked with nurses, met with career counselors and searched the Internet.
Then she took the leap.
“I’ve always wanted to do something to help other people, but I also had to be practical,” said Tench, who graduated from Habersham County High School in northeast Georgia in 2011 and attends nearby North Georgia Technical College.
“Everyone hears about the tangible benefits of going into nursing nowadays, from other nursing students, from schools. It pays well, and people will always require health care, so there will always be a need for nurses,” said Tench.
It’s true that the need for nurses will never disappear, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that 711,900 new nursing jobs will be created by 2020.
But in the current economy, the job prospects for a nurse are surprisingly uncertain. full story
Overweight patients are being encouraged to take a walk, if not a hike.
A unique collaboration between the Georgia Association of Physician Assistants (GAPA) and Georgia State Parks seeks to promote physical fitness in a fresh-air way.
For a day trip to one of Georgia’s state parks, there’s normally a $5 parking fee. But nowadays, physician assistants in the state can hand out “Rx For Fitness” prescriptions that allow that charge to be waived.
Will park visitors find a canyon trail more exhilarating than a stationary treadmill? “That’s the hope,” says Kim Hatcher, a spokeswoman for the Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites. “The state park is a perfect diversion from a neighborhood sidewalk.” full story