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Sale of Riverdale hospital nears final review

Prime Healthcare Foundation’s purchase of Clayton County’s only hospital is on its way to the Georgia attorney general for review.

Southern Regional Medical Center

Southern Regional Medical Center

A bankruptcy court issued its final approval order on the deal this week.

Officials with Prime Healthcare hope the acquisition of Southern Regional Medical Center is completed in December. Southern Regional, in Riverdale south of Atlanta, would be California-based Prime’s first hospital in Georgia.

The state attorney general must review all transactions related to the acquisition or sale of assets of nonprofit hospitals in Georgia. Barring some unforeseen legal challenge, Attorney General Sam Olens is expected to approve the Southern Regional deal. full story

Commentary: Stop these big insurance deals

This week, shareholders of Aetna and Humana voted to approve the merger of the two health insurance giants.

Dr. Deep Shah

Dr. Deep Shah

Federal and state regulators will still have their say on the deal, and on another insurance mega-merger, that of Anthem and Cigna.

In a new GHN Commentary, Dr. Deep Shah, an Emory medical resident, argues that the two deals “would represent unprecedented consolidation of Georgia’s health insurance market.”

He says the mergers would lead to lower wages, higher premiums and deductibles, and narrower provider networks. Shah calls on regulators, including Georgia’s insurance commissioner, to stop the deals.

Here’s a link to Shah’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


‘Balance billing’ draws legislative scrutiny

A patient scheduled for surgery makes sure that both the hospital and surgeon are in the health plan’s network prior to the operation.

Sen. Renee Unterman

Sen. Renee Unterman

But after the surgery, a surprise bill arrives for hundreds of dollars. It turns out that the anesthesiologist used in the procedure was not in the patient’s insurance network – and the patient had no idea.

Such “balance billing’’ situations often confound and upset consumers receiving medical care – and can lead to tough collections practices.

A state legislative panel hearing Thursday discussed surprise billing for medical care. The subcommittee was chaired by state Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford), who said she has heard from many constituents complaining about medical debt, bankruptcies due to medical bills, and credit rating downgrades.

“It’s so hard on the consumer,’’ said Unterman, chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

Physicians and members of the hospital and insurance industries testified on surprise medical bills, pointing to varying reasons for their use. They agreed, though, that it’s something that can hit consumers hard. full story

Suwanee medical school starting PA program

The Georgia campus of Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine has been approved to launch a physician assistant program.

GAPCOM-logo (2)The two-year master’s degree program will begin next June, with 20 students in the first class. The Georgia campus of PCOM is in Suwanee, a northeastern suburb of Atlanta.

Physician assistants practice medicine with supervision by licensed physicians, delivering a range of medical services in a variety of settings.

The number of PAs in Georgia has increased by 67 percent over the past 10 years, now surpassing 3,000. Still, experts say there’s a shortage of them in the state. full story

Ebola work reflects Health Connect South’s goal

Dr. Ian Crozier was caring for Ebola-infected people in Sierra Leone in 2014 when he contracted the disease himself.

The 44-year-old physician flew to Atlanta and was placed in the special isolation unit at Emory University Hospital. Crozier, known as “Patient 3” at Emory to protect his identity, was very sick, with multiple organ failure.


Later, after he was successfully treated and discharged, the Ebola virus was found in his eye. That brought Crozier back to the Emory unit for more treatment.

Crozier will be among several veterans of the Ebola response effort who will reassemble at a conference in Atlanta next Wednesday.

Health Connect South will bring together, along with Crozier,  the CDC director, Dr. Tom Frieden; the medical director of the Emory isolation unit, Dr. Bruce Ribner; Georgia’s public health chief, Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald; and Georgia hospital officials, among others. full story

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