Rural hospitals aren’t the only Georgia medical facilities bleeding red ink.
Southern Regional Medical Center in Riverdale, near the world’s busiest airport, has been losing money since 2007. And in its last fiscal year, the loss was $20.6 million.
To help the nonprofit hospital stay afloat, Clayton County commissioners this week approved a package of special tax-funded projects that would bring in $50 million to help the 331-bed facility. The SPLOST has to be approved by voters.
“The hospital is in an untenable position if we do not receive community support,’’ Claudia Hall, director of marketing for Southern Regional, told GHN.
She and others say that a Medicaid expansion in Georgia would help the hospital as well.
Southern Regional Medical Center
Four rural hospitals in Georgia have closed in the past two years, citing financial struggles.
A closure of the much larger Southern Regional, just a short drive from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, would be a devastating financial blow to Clayton County. The hospital has 1,850 employees and more than 500 physicians and specialists on the medical staff. full story
Willie Johnson of Doraville didn’t know what to expect when he went to a recent health care information event in Stone Mountain.
Johnson, a part-time restaurant worker, had no health insurance. So when he heard a spot on radio station V-103 about the event at Berean Christian Church, he decided to find out for himself.
At the church, he met officials with Enroll America, a nonprofit organization seeking to help people gain coverage under the Affordable Care Act. They gave him information about the health insurance exchange that the federal government operates in Georgia.
Soon afterward, Johnson, 47, enrolled in an exchange policy that he says will cost him just $30 a month.
State Rep. Karen Bennett speaks at an education event at Fairfield Baptist Church as Enroll America’s Whitney Horton looks on
The involvement of a church in an ACA enrollment event is not incidental.
Enroll America, federal officials and others working to help uninsured Americans sign up for the new health coverage have frequently tapped churches and other places of worship to host educational events on the ACA, which is often called Obamacare.
Johnson says African-Americans feel at home at such events because “we trust the church.’’ full story
The physician pay hike for Medicaid services is finally beginning to reach Georgia doctors, more than a year after it was intended to take effect.
The three managed care organizations serving the majority of Medicaid beneficiaries are sending the extra payments to physicians starting this month, according to a schedule released by the Department of Community Health.
The pay hike was required under the Affordable Care Act, with the goal of paying family physicians, pediatricians and internists the same for Medicaid services as they get under Medicare. full story
A House committee Monday narrowly approved a bill that targets potential conflicts of interest involving Department of Community Health Board members.
Governmental Affairs Committee Chairwoman Amy Carter (R-Valdosta) voted in favor of it, breaking a 4-to-4 tie vote among the other panel members and sending the bill to the House Rules Committee for consideration before it reaches the House floor.
Rep. Amy Carter
HB 913 would prohibit board membership for anyone having an “ownership interest in an entity or program” licensed or regulated by DCH. The legislation, however, exempts medical professionals such as physicians and dentists.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Trey Kelley (R-Cedartown), said it would still allow medical professionals to serve on the board even if they had an ownership interest in an entity regulated by DCH.
Among people who would be barred from the DCH board under the legislation are people who have an ownership interest in a company that “provides medical staffing services to an entity that is licensed or regulated” by DCH. full story
The issue of Medicaid expansion drew its first full-scale 2014 General Assembly hearing Wednesday. As expected, the arguments reflected the passions surrounding the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
A House Judiciary subcommittee voted to pass HB 990, which would require the Legislature to approve any expansion of Medicaid here, rather than leaving the decision up to the governor alone. At least for the foreseeable future, this would appear to put another obstacle in the path of expansion in Georgia.
Rep. Jan Jones
Later, a second GOP-sponsored proposal on Obamacare also won the panel’s approval.
The main sponsor of the expansion bill, Rep. Jan Jones (R-Milton), House speaker pro tempore, said the Medicaid program already costs the state $3 billion a year, and that expansion would add to that tab. “It’s vitally important that [expansion] require a vote of the Legislature.”
Another proponent, Rep. Jason Spencer (R-Woodbine), said Medicaid should switch to more state control under a “block grant’’ in order to prevent patients from “gaming the system.’’
But Cathryn Marchman of Mercy Care, a safety-net health center in Atlanta that treats thousands of uninsured patients, took exception to that language. She told the panel, “Trying to get medical care is not gaming the system.’’ full story