Dr. Roslyn Banks-Jackson worries about what will happen to many women of Emanuel County when the local hospital shuts its labor and delivery unit.
Dr. Roslyn Banks-Jackson
She’s the only ob/gyn currently practicing in the east-central Georgia county. And the practice, Emanuel OB/GYN Clinic, owned by the hospital, will soon be closing as well.
Many of her low-income patients have no transportation, and they either walk or have to get rides from friends or relatives to get to their appointments.
When the closures come, those of Banks-Jackson’s patients who do have cars will be driving 30 to 40 minutes to other counties to deliver their babies, said her office manager, Ashley Williamson. Some patients may wind up delivering in the local emergency room, Williamson added.
Emanuel Medical Center, citing high costs and low reimbursements, decided last month to close the hospital’s obstetrical program June 30.
“I’m 100 percent positive we’ll have worsening [patient] outcomes as a county,’’ Banks-Jackson said Monday. For patients without a car, “I seriously doubt they’ll get prenatal care.’’
The shuttering of the labor and delivery unit follows similar actions by other hospitals across the state. The obstetrical closures have hit especially hard in rural Georgia, where health care has been imperiled by doctor shortages and shaky hospital finances. full story
A state Senate panel gave Georgia primary care doctors a potential financial boost Wednesday, putting millions of dollars into the state budget for a pay raise to deliver services to Medicaid patients.
The Senate Appropriations Committee passed a budget that awards $5.9 million in state funds for a Medicaid pay raise to ob/gyns, and $13.6 million to internists, pediatricians and family medicine physicians.
Dr. Evelyn Johnson of Brunswick says the pay raise will keep some doctors from closing their practices.
Those amounts surpass the House’s allocation of $3 million and $1.6 million to the respective groups.
The state funds would be matched by federal money.
The doctors can’t count on the raise yet. The Georgia budget has a ways to go before being finalized. full story
Georgia lawmakers considered insurance bills Wednesday that would create major changes in health plan networks in the state.
Sen. Chuck Hufstetler
The Senate Insurance and Labor Committee first heard testimony on Senate Bill 143, which would require the state employee and teacher health plan to include the state’s five Level 1 trauma centers as “in-network” facilities.
That would help Grady Health System, a trauma center in Atlanta that is now “out-of-network” for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia members.
Blue Cross is the main insurer in the State Health Benefit Plan. So approval of Senate Bill 143 would make Grady in-network for the plan’s 630,000 members.
The state of Georgia has similar requirements with the health plans that serve Medicaid and PeachCare members, said Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome), lead sponsor of the bill. full story
One in four Georgia hospitals earned an “A’’ grade in recently released ratings on patient safety.
The 27 percent figure put Georgia hospitals roughly in the middle of the pack among states, according to the Leapfrog Group’s safety scores report.
The ratings measure the ability of hospitals to prevent errors, injuries and infections. The report on the ratings is intended to help consumers as they choose a facility for health services.
More than 1,000 people die each day in the United States because of preventable hospital errors, according to the Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit, Washington-based organization that focuses on patient safety.
Nationwide, one in 25 patients actually picks up an infection in the hospital.
Georgia’s insurance commissioner, in a rare regulatory action, has told the state’s largest health insurer to rescind newly added amendments to contracts with thousands of physicians.
Physicians had complained that the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia contract revisions lacked clarity on the insurer’s payment rates for medical services.
“I heard from doctors all over the state about the heavy-handed approach taken by Blue Cross regarding their contract changes,” said Commissioner Ralph Hudgens in a statement. “I want doctors spending time caring for their patients, not being stonewalled by an insurance company.”
Consumers should not be affected by the move, insurance department officials say, as the existing physician contracts remain intact.
Blue Cross said in a statement Thursday that it had been working with Hudgens and the insurance department for several weeks to resolve the issue. full story