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Physicians

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 amiller@georgiahealthnews.com

 

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 amiller@georgiahealthnews.com

2 more hospitals closing baby delivery units

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

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

Key panel gives doctors a pay raise for Medicaid

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.

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

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