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Pediatricians, facing new realities, form network

More than 1,100 Georgia pediatricians have joined a new physician-led network that aims to improve quality of care and eventually contract for payments from insurers.

The sign-ups so far represent roughly one-third of the total number of pediatricians practicing in the state.

Dr. Bob Wiskind

Dr. Robert Wiskind

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta helped create the nonprofit entity, called the Children’s Care Network.

Dr. Robert Wiskind, an Atlanta pediatrician who is the network’s board chairman, told GHN recently that members will share  national “best practices’’ of medical care, such as identifying which children with concussions need to get a CT scan.

The doctors, who practice in the Atlanta region, will also share data on how the care they each give to kids compares with the care given by their peers.

The creation of the Children’s Care Network comes at a time of dramatic change in the way medical providers are paid for their services. full story

Milestone: 50 years of Medicare and Medicaid

When signing the bill creating Medicare and Medicaid 50 years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson held the ceremony in Independence, Missouri, where former President Harry Truman lived.

Truman, who had pushed unsuccessfully for national health insurance during his own presidency, was at LBJ’s side during the signing. (And in one of those of odd coincidences of U.S. political history, the two presidents from different eras would die less than a month apart in the early 1970s.)


President Lyndon Johnson signs the Medicare bill into law while former President Harry Truman (seated) looks on.

President Lyndon Johnson signs the Medicare bill into law while Harry Truman (seated) looks on.

The decades-long push to create the two health insurance programs was like “a long-distance run,’’ said Dr. David Satcher, a former U.S. surgeon general, at a Carter Center forum Wednesday.

Satcher added that it was also “like a relay race,’’ noting that Truman handed off the “baton’’ of national insurance to LBJ.

This week, federal officials along with many health care and community organizations are marking the 50th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid, created July 30, 1965.   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

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

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