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Grady appeals to public in battle over contract

Charles Armbrust had severe headaches from what was eventually diagnosed as a brain aneurysm. He received surgery at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.

“Grady saved my life – that’s the bottom line,’’ said the former patient.

A video of a tearful Armbrust expressing his gratitude for his medical care is posted on a Grady web page describing problems that the health system says it’s experiencing in reaching a new contract with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia. Armbrust’s insurer is Blue Cross.

Grady Memorial Hospital

Grady Memorial Hospital

The powerful video is part of a campaign by Grady to call attention to low reimbursements from Georgia’s largest health insurer.

Those payments are lower than Blue Cross rates for other comparable hospitals in Atlanta and throughout the state, says Grady CEO John Haupert.

For trauma services, “it’s much lower than other hospitals,’’ Haupert told GHN on Monday. Overall, he said, Grady loses money when it treats most Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia patients.

Haupert said the two sides have been negotiating for a year. While these talks are continuing, he said, Grady has sent Blue Cross a termination notice that would be triggered Nov. 25.

Both Grady and Blue Cross say they hope an agreement is reached before the November deadline. The contract affects Grady’s hospital and other facilities, but not its physicians. full story

Medicaid fee funds preserved after brief scare

A Medicaid fee that brings in $31 million in federal funds for Georgia’s private hospitals was nearly sidetracked Tuesday because of the opposition of one member of the board of the state Department of Community Health.

Piedmont Atlanta Hospital

Piedmont Atlanta Hospital

The board member, former Gwinnett County legislator Clay Cox, agreed to reverse himself after it was pointed out that his “no” vote could effectively kill that portion of the state’s hospital provider fee, an important funding mechanism for Medicaid.

The Community Health Board ended up giving initial approval to the hospital provider fee and is expected to adopt it at the board’s November meeting.

The hospital provider fee – sometimes referred to as a “bed tax” – is collected from Georgia’s hospitals by Community Health. full story

Former hospital returning — as research site

The former Southwest Atlanta Hospital, closed for the past five years, is coming back to life, this time as a medical research center.

The historic hospital is being renovated to become the new home of the Atlanta Center for Medical Research this month.

ACMR said it has outgrown its Midtown Atlanta location and expects to more than double its current employment with the move.

The research organization, which conducts clinical trials for pharmaceutical companies and medical device firms, said it found the former hospital site to be the best location for its expansion.

The former Southwest Atlanta Hospital is being converted into a medical research center

The former Southwest Atlanta Hospital is being converted into a medical research center

“Southwest Hospital has really, really good bones,’’ said Eric Riesenberg, director of operations for ACMR. “It checked the most boxes.”

The property is being developed by Arberg Properties for an estimated $25 million. The purchase price of the property has not been disclosed. full story

Marcus Foundation gives big gift to Grady

Grady Health System has received $30 million from the Marcus Foundation to help expand its hospital’s emergency department and its stroke and neuroscience center.

Grady Memorial Hospital

Grady Memorial Hospital

It’s the second huge gift to Grady from the foundation, created by Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus.

Grady said Monday that $20 million of the donation would go toward building its new emergency center, while the remainder would help expand the stroke center.

“This incredibly generous gift brings the Marcus Foundation’s total investment in Grady to $50 million since 2009,” said Grady President and CEO John Haupert in a statement. full story

It’s official: Phoebe settlement is off

The Federal Trade Commission announced Friday that it has rejected a proposed settlement agreement with Phoebe Putney Health System over the latter’s 2011 merger with a rival Albany hospital.

The FTC and Phoebe tentatively reached the agreement last year, appearing to put an end to what was already a long-running, complicated legal dispute. But the federal agency has been signaling for months that it might not take the deal after all.

Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital

Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital

The agency’s decision to reject the settlement revives the high-profile regulatory fight between Phoebe Putney and the FTC. The matter will now return to an administrative court, where a hearing is expected over the feds’ antitrust allegations against Phoebe.

The federal agency has contended for three years that Phoebe’s acquisition of Palmyra Medical Center violated antitrust laws, reducing competition and potentially raising prices for consumers.

“We’ve argued all along that this merger would create a monopoly in Albany that would harm consumers and employers in the region,” Deborah Feinstein, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, said in a statement Friday. “Meaningful structural relief is needed to restore competition to this marketplace.”

Phoebe Putney officials called the FTC’s rejection of the deal disappointing. full story

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