Subscribe to The Pulse

Hospitals

Northside, Gwinnett Medical talk giant merger

Up until now, Northside Hospital has stayed relatively quiet in the almost frantic rush by metro Atlanta hospital systems to seek mergers or acquisitions.

But Northside is now jumping into the fray,  with a Wednesday announcement that it and Gwinnett Medical Center will begin talks to merge operations.

Northside Hospital

Northside Hospital in Sandy Springs

If an agreement is reached, the resulting system would build a strong arch from the northern Atlanta suburbs eastward into populous Gwinnett County. Northside operates hospitals in Canton and Cumming as well as its flagship hospital in Sandy Springs, which it says delivers more babies than any other U.S. hospital and performs the most surgeries in Georgia.

Gwinnett Medical operates hospitals in Lawrenceville and Duluth. Gwinnett County is the second most populous in the state.

The merger talks follow the recent aggressive moves of  Marietta-based WellStar Health System. WellStar has begun talks to buy Tenet Healthcare’s five hospitals in metro Atlanta after earlier abandoning a proposed deal with Emory Healthcare. WellStar also has a proposed deal in place to acquire West Georgia Health. full story

Deal shows clout of Georgia health IT

MEA|NEA, a health IT company based in the Atlanta suburb of Norcross, announced Tuesday that it has acquired another company in the industry, the White Stone Group.

Stethoscope on a computer keyboardThe combined company has more than 1 million customers in the medical and dental markets.

MEA|NEA said it will form two complementary business units — one focused on providers, patients and insurers in dental care, and the other focused on medical care.

A private company, MEA|NEA will maintain operations in Norcross and in Knoxville, Tenn. full story

State outlines arguments against Medicaid ‘waiver’

The state’s Medicaid agency has all but ruled out Grady Health System’s “waiver’’ proposal to cover more uninsured Georgians.

Photo of the Georgia Capitol Building“We’re not going to move forward on this at this time,’’ Clyde Reese, commissioner of the Department of Community Health, said at an agency board meeting Thursday.

He cited “significant costs to the state” to implement the proposal.

Reese added that federal officials indicated they would consider the waiver proposal only if Georgia was willing also to expand its Medicaid program. That is something Georgia political leaders have emphatically declined to do.   full story

State agency: Medicaid ‘waiver’ plan too expensive

Grady Health System’s proposal to cover more uninsured through a “waiver’’ has run into a major snag at the state’s Medicaid agency.

The big problem is concern about the cost.

Photo of the Georgia Capitol BuildingThe current waiver proposal “is cost-prohibitive to the state,’’ Jeremy Arieh, a spokesman for the Georgia Department of Community Health, told GHN on Tuesday.

The Grady plan contains several factors “that present a challenge and a significant cost to the state,’’ he added.

DCH and Grady officials met recently to discuss the waiver proposal, which would use federal matching Medicaid dollars to help set up pilot sites that would give coverage to the uninsured. Participating medical providers would then manage these patients’ care and potentially improve their health. full story

Most Georgia hospitals face readmission fines

Two-thirds of Georgia hospitals will receive Medicare fines for having too many discharged patients return within a month for additional care, federal data show.

The 67 percent of Georgia hospitals facing penalties is higher than the national average of 54 percent, according to a Kaiser Health News analysis.

Piedmont Henry Hospital

Piedmont Henry Hospital

The readmission penalties, launched as part of the Affordable Care Act, seek to encourage hospitals to pay closer attention to what happens to patients after discharge.

Since the fines began, national readmission rates have declined, but roughly one of every five Medicare patients sent to the hospital ends up returning within a month of being released, Kaiser Health News’ Jordan Rau reported this week.

The fines will be applied to Medicare payments when the federal fiscal year 2016 begins in October. In this round, the average Medicare payment reduction is 0.61 percent per patient stay. Georgia’s average penalty is 0.47 percent.

The maximum possible fine is 3 percent. Piedmont Henry Hospital in Stockbridge will get the highest fine in Georgia, at 2.59 percent.  full story

  • Sign up for our mailing list.