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Hospitals

Cancer hospital fires back in fight over legislation

“Pure politics.”

That’s how Cancer Treatment Centers of America describes the opposition to legislation that would allow the cancer hospital to expand its capacity – and treat more Georgians.

David Kent

David Kent

“This is not about the citizens of Georgia,’’ said David Kent, chief operating officer of CTCA’s hospital in Newnan. “This is about [other] hospitals protecting their turf.”

Kent, in an interview with GHN, gave a passionate defense of House Bill 482, introduced Tuesday in the Georgia General Assembly. The proposal would eliminate a requirement that 65 percent of the cancer hospital’s patients come from out of state – a provision enacted by the Legislature in 2008 when it allowed CTCA to build the facility.

The new legislation is fiercely opposed by the state’s hospital associations.

Kent told Georgia Health News on Wednesday that due to the 65 percent restriction, the CTCA facility has been forced not to admit some Georgians seeking care. full story

Bill on cancer hospital takes immediate flak

The long-awaited “CTCA bill” has finally arrived – and Georgia’s hospital industry  immediately pounced on it in opposition.

Legislation that would end major regulatory restrictions on the Cancer Treatment Centers of America’s hospital in Newnan was introduced in the Georgia General Assembly on Tuesday. The lead sponsor is state Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

Cancer Treatment Center of America's hospital in Newnan

Cancer Treatment Center of America’s hospital in Newnan

When Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) first sought to build its “destination cancer hospital’’ in Georgia, it faced strong opposition from major Atlanta hospitals and their allies. In 2008, the Legislature allowed the facility to be built, but required that 65 percent of the CTCA hospital’s patients come from out of state.

House Bill 482 would eliminate that requirement, as well as the hospital’s current limit of 50 beds.

The hospital industry has been nervously awaiting the bill since the beginning of the legislative session. full story

Blue Cross offers help after customers hacked

Current and former Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia members are being offered free identity repair assistance and credit monitoring services in the wake of a massive data breach involving the insurer’s parent company, Anthem.

BCBSGA_4C

Blue Cross members dating back to 2004 can start accessing these services before receiving a mailed notification from Anthem that will be sent in the coming weeks.

Blue Cross, which currently has about 3 million members in Georgia, advises consumers to get more information from AnthemFacts.com  on how to access the services. All Georgia members are potentially affected, Blue Cross says.

Anthem recently announced that as many as 80 million customers of the company had their account information stolen.

“We are currently working with the FBI,’’ said Blue Cross of Georgia spokeswoman Debbie Diamond on Monday. “As the investigation unfolds, we’ll have a better idea of how many people are affected.’’

“It’s premature to speculate how [the breach] happened,’’ she added. full story

Merger would create a giant in Atlanta health care

It’s a long way from being a done deal, but if it happens it will shake up metro Atlanta health care.

Emory University and WellStar Health System announced last week that they are discussing a merger of their medical assets, a fusion that would face regulatory and logistical challenges. Completion of a deal is at least a year away.

Emory University Hospital Midtown

Emory University Hospital Midtown

Yet the news of even a possible marriage between nonprofit heavyweights Emory Healthcare and WellStar sent a tremor through the metro Atlanta health care industry.

The proposed union would be the biggest example of hospital consolidation so far in Georgia, and it could trigger other combinations.

Standalone metro hospitals such as Gwinnett Medical Center and DeKalb Medical may be forced to consider aligning with other entities, said David Smith of Kearny Street Consulting. full story

Emory, WellStar discuss a blockbuster merger

In the turbulent business of health care, bigger is often better.

Nowhere is that more evident than in the stunning announcement Monday that Emory University and WellStar Health System are talking about merging their medical assets in metro Atlanta.

If a deal is consummated, the resulting nonprofit health system would clearly be Georgia’s biggest and would comprise one of the largest such organizations in the nation.

WellStar Kennestone Hospital

WellStar Kennestone Hospital

The talks come at a time of revolutionary changes in health care, many of which were ignited by the Affordable Care Act.

That upheaval is having a profound effect in the Georgia hospital industry. Recently, GHN reported that the Texas-based chain Tenet Health is seeking a partner or buyer for its Georgia hospitals.

And Piedmont Healthcare, based in Atlanta, has begun talking about a partnership with St. Francis Hospital in Columbus, which is reeling from a $30 million accounting inaccuracy.

A merger, if completed, would combine Emory’s academic health system with WellStar’s expertise in running community hospitals.

“We want to end up with the best of community health care and the best of academic health care,’’ Emory University President James Wagner said Monday. “We hope to be a model for the Southeast and the rest of the country.”

It would also create a system with geographic reach across Atlanta and into the city’s northwest suburbs, where WellStar dominates the market. full story

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