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Health Costs

Report: State lags in public health spending

Georgia ranks 37th among states in per capita spending on public health, according to a newly released report.

Healthcare CostThe $18.48 that Georgia spent per capita on public health in fiscal years 2013 and 2014 is less than half the funding in some other Southeastern states, such as $59.22 in Alabama, $47.94 in Arkansas and $43.97 in Tennessee.

The Georgia public health budget did exceed those in Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina, said the report, released this week by the Trust for America’s Health.

Georgia’s per capita amount increased from the $18.08 per capita amount spent in 2012-2013. full story

Medicaid care coordination put back on hold

The state has shelved its attempt to coordinate care of Medicaid beneficiaries who are elderly or disabled.

Photo of the Georgia Capitol BuildingThe Georgia Department of Community Health said Tuesday that it was not proceeding “at this time’’ with soliciting bids from potential vendors to operate the program.

The agency’s statement, made in an email to GHN, follows the General Assembly’s removal of $12 million in state funds, intended for the startup of the program, from the fiscal 2016 budget proposed by Gov. Nathan Deal.

Community Health, though, denied that the removal of startup funds drove its decision to halt the contracting process. full story

Emory, WellStar commit to planning merger

The preliminary talks are over: Now Emory and WellStar officials will move forward on creating a merged health care system.


Reynold Jennings

Trustees of Emory University and WellStar Health System have approved a resolution to start the “design phase” of a new entity, the two organizations announced Thursday evening.

The combination of Emory Healthcare and WellStar would be easily the state’s biggest health system. But a merger won’t come quickly, officials said. And the deal still has not been clinched, they emphasize.

The potential combination of the two large metro Atlanta systems was announced Feb. 9. Officials said then that the initial talks between the two systems would continue for 45 days, and Thursday’s announcement made clear that the merger idea had been given a green light.

Some of the details to be worked out during the next phase of talks include the name of the new health system, its corporate office location, governance and structure. That is expected to take at least a year. full story

Emory, Aetna create latest ACO care model

Emory Healthcare and Aetna are teaming up in a collaboration known as an “accountable care organization’’ (ACO), which aims to enhance patient care and reduce costs.

ACOs are networks of hospitals and doctors — and sometimes insurers — that arose as a central feature of the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

aetMedical providers in ACOs typically are rewarded based on the quality of care they provide. Under a special Medicare program, the organizations get paid more for keeping their patients healthy and out of the hospital. Several ACOs have been formed in Georgia.

The ACO announcement Thursday did not mention Emory’s potential merger with rival WellStar Health System, nor what role the Aetna ACO might have in a merged entity.

Emory and WellStar, both major players in the metro Atlanta market, are currently in talks to merge their health care assets into a new medical powerhouse. full story

Commentary: Insurance that deserves more respect

The negative-sounding phrase “narrow networks” is used in health care circles to indicate a limited choice of hospitals and doctors in an insurance plan.


Graham Thompson

But an insurance industry official has a different take and a different phrase: “high-value’’ provider networks.

In  a new GHN Commentary, Graham Thompson, executive director of the Georgia Association of Health Plans, argues that such insurance networks have been unfairly maligned, and that they offer a  less expensive option for businesses and consumers.

“Consumers demand affordable options with access to doctors and hospitals with the best track record of delivering high-quality, cost-efficient care,’’ Thompson says.

Here’s a link to his Commentary.

Georgia Health News welcomes Commentary submissions. If you would like to propose a Commentary piece for Georgia Health News, please email Andy Miller, editor of GHN, at


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