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Hospitals

Merger mania: Aetna to buy Humana

Insurance giant Aetna said Friday that it has agreed to buy rival Humana for $37 billion in a deal that reflects the rampant consolidation in health care.

aetThe acquisition, if approved by shareholders and regulators, will roughly double Aetna’s membership in Georgia.

Connecticut-based Aetna has roughly 700,000 Georgia members in its health plans, while Louisville, Ky.-based Humana covers 692,000 in Georgia.  full story

Doctors’ suit aims to topple state’s CON rules

Two Cartersville ob/gyns filed suit Tuesday to overturn the state’s health care regulatory process, saying it restricts competition and is unconstitutional.

iStock_000023217379LargeDrs. Hugo Ribot and Malcolm Barfield are challenging the Georgia certificate-of-need program, a complex set of regulations governing the creation and expansion of medical facilities.

The CON process has long been controversial because hospitals often use it to challenge competitors’ proposed projects. It has also pitted doctors against hospitals in battles over building surgery centers.

The physicians’ lawsuit asserts that Georgia’s CON laws “are a restraint on competition, economic liberty, and consumer choice.”

The CON regulations “encourage and facilitate state-granted monopolies and have the effect of restricting competition in the provision of health care services,” the lawsuit says. full story

Piedmont’s next leader: A doctor in charge

The recently named CEO of Piedmont Atlanta Hospital says being a doctor will give him an advantage in his new role.

Dr. Patrick Battey

Dr. Patrick Battey

“As a physician, seeing what the nuts and bolts of what our patients are going through brings an additional lens’’ to the position, said Dr. Patrick Battey, who will take over as CEO in January.

Battey, 61, a vascular surgeon, has been co-CEO of Piedmont Atlanta Hospital with Les Donahue, who is retiring at the end of the year.

It’s uncommon for a physician to serve as CEO of a major Georgia hospital. full story

A tale of two (neighboring) hospitals

Piedmont Fayette Hospital is expanding its emergency room capacity to keep up with Fayette County’s growth and rising patient numbers.

Fayette County

Fayette County

The $40 million project will also add more beds to the hospital, located in Fayetteville, south of Atlanta.

More than 61,000 patients were treated in the hospital ER last fiscal year, but Piedmont Fayette officials expect the number to exceed 67,000 this year.

“We’re at capacity now, and this will help us better serve our patients,” CEO Michael Burnett said last week. And he announced that the hospital wants to add even more capacity in the near future.

Many Georgia hospitals are reeling financially from the high costs of uncompensated care, because they are treating so many uninsured patients. full story

Ailing Riverdale hospital in financial talks

The CEO of struggling Southern Regional Medical Center said Thursday that the hospital is having discussions with possible financial partners.

Kim Ryan

Kim Ryan

“We have some companies interested in us about being a capital partner,’’ Kim Ryan told GHN on Thursday.

Ryan said these potential partners are health care companies, but she did not identify them further.

This type of external funding is Southern Regional’s “best hope” of survival, she said, adding that she is optimistic that a partner will be found.  full story

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