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Charity clinics in Georgia save money, study finds

Georgia’s charity health clinics produce cost savings when treating patients with hypertension, a new University of Georgia study has found.

Serving patients with high blood pressure in Georgia Charitable Care Network clinics is less expensive than treating them in other settings, including by federally qualified health centers, by Medicaid providers and through private insurance, the study said.


Medical care being delivered at the Center for Black Women’s Wellness in Atlanta.

Fueling those savings are doctors who volunteer their time at the clinics for free, and the free medications given to these organizations, said Phaedra Corso, a health policy expert at the University of Georgia’s College of Public Health. Corso led the study, which was funded by Healthcare Georgia Foundation.

There are more than 90 of these charity clinics serving the uninsured across Georgia, the second-highest number among all states after Florida. Most of them are free to patients, but some charge a small fee. full story

What affects your health? Many things

Having insurance is important to people’s health, but other factors also have a significant impact.

Dr Harry Heiman

Dr. Harry Heiman

They include education, economic stability, physical environment and access to healthy food, notes Dr. Harry Heiman of Morehouse School of Medicine in a new report, written with Samantha Artiga with the Kaiser Family Foundation.

A broad approach in addressing these “social determinants of health” will help improve health outcomes and “achieve health equity,” the authors say.

“Health behaviors, such as smoking and diet and exercise, are the most important determinants of premature death,’’ Heiman and Artiga write. “Moreover, there is growing recognition that a broad range of social, economic, and environmental factors shape individuals’ opportunities and barriers to engage in healthy behaviors.”

Here is a link to their issue brief.


Another rural hospital going out of business

A rural hospital in northwest Georgia, burdened by a heavy debt load and large financial losses, is set to close Dec. 4.

Hutcheson Medical Center in Fort Oglethorpe would be the fifth rural Georgia hospital to shut its doors since 2013.

Hutcheson Medical Center

Hutcheson Medical Center

A bankruptcy court judge issued the order for the closure this week, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported.

Hospital employees were told of the closing date on Thursday, according to the Walker County Messenger/Catoosa County News.

The Hutcheson CEO, Farrell Hayes, declined comment Friday on the closure, referring GHN to the trustee appointed by a bankruptcy court judge to oversee hospital operations during its Chapter 11 reorganization. Trustee Ron Glass could not be reached for comment. full story

More Georgia kids insured as ACA takes hold

The number of uninsured children in Georgia dropped by nearly 50,000 after the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act in 2014, a new report has found.

But the state’s 189,000 children who remain uninsured make Georgia’s rate relatively high – 7.6 percent, versus 6 percent nationally.

childrenplayThe report from Georgetown University Health Policy Institute’s Center for Children and Families said the national total of 4.4 million uninsured children in 2014 was down from 5.2 million the previous year. The 6 percent national average is a historic low, the report said.

“The Affordable Care Act is one of the most significant domestic policy initiatives in decades, and it builds on more than a decade of success in reducing the number of uninsured children through Medicaid and [the Children’s Health Insurance Program],” said Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown center. “This national achievement in reducing the number of uninsured children is the result of many efforts made by many different policymakers and stakeholders at the state and national levels.”

About half the remaining uninsured children live in six states – Texas, California, Florida, Georgia, Arizona and Pennsylvania. (Most of those states are among the nation’s most populous overall.) full story

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

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