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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

Cancer program focuses on best-rated treatments

Hundreds of Georgians have received cancer treatment under a new payment model created by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia’s parent company.

Dr. Jennifer Malin

Dr. Jennifer Malin

Last year, Georgia was one of six states that Anthem chose to begin the oncology program, which encourages doctors to treat patients under a standardized cancer regimen.

Physicians get extra pay if they choose one of several treatment protocols approved by the insurer.

Anthem said Monday that about two-thirds of patients with colon, breast or lung cancer in the six states were part of the Cancer Care Quality Program, which debuted last July.

The protocols used are recommended as being the best in quality and the most cost-effective, Anthem said.

Physicians are paid an extra $350 management fee per month for each patient on active therapy.

Currently, there is much variation in quality of care in cancer treatment, and costs have soared, Dr. Jennifer Malin, an oncologist and staff vice president for Anthem clinical strategy, said in an interview. full story

Commentary: Analyzing malpractice reform

Is there a feasible way to reform the medical malpractice system? Would changes be worthwhile?

Katja Ridderbusch

Katja Ridderbusch

Katja Ridderbusch, an Atlanta-based foreign correspondent for German news media, looks to European and other countries’ legal systems for an answer.

In a new GHN Commentary, Ridderbusch describes the differences between tort systems and poses possible solutions for the high malpractice costs in America.

“The premium for medical liability insurance for a general surgeon in the United States can be as high as $130,000 to $190,000 in areas such as Long Island, N.Y., or Miami,’’ she notes. “In Germany, it’s between $5,000 and $10,000.”

Here’s a link to her Commentary.

Georgia Health News welcomes Commentary submissions. If you would like to propose a Commentary piece for Georgia Health News, please email Andy Miller, editor of GHN, at


Commentary: Where doctors find wisdom

Dr. Scott A. Kelly

Dr. Scott A. Kelly

Atlanta physician Dr. Scott A. Kelly says he has learned plenty from his patients.

Listening to people he has treated has made him a better doctor, Kelly says.

He has written a book about being taught such lessons from patients, titled “What I’ve Learned from You.”

In a new GHN Commentary, Kelly adds that part of  his responsibility as a physician is “to bring compassion back to the doctor-patient relationship.”

Here’s a link to Kelly’s Commentary.


Georgia Health News welcomes Commentary submissions. If you would like to propose a Commentary piece for Georgia Health News, please email Andy Miller, editor of GHN, at

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