What’s a good local nursing home for a loved one? Which hospital is closest to your home? Where would a personal care home resident...

What’s a good local nursing home for a loved one?

Which hospital is closest to your home?

Where would a personal care home resident go if a tornado damaged that facility?

The answers just got closer. Now Georgians can search for all licensed health care facilities by city or ZIP code through a new webtool, GaMap2Care, developed by the staff of the state Department of Community Health. (Here’s the link: www.GaMap2Care.info)

The geomapping technology gives the size of a hospital, nursing home, dialysis clinic or other health facility, shows its address and phone number, and gives a Google map aerial view and a street view.

Georgia’s more than 7,000 licensed facilities — ranging from hospitals and nursing homes to surgery centers, hospices, rural health clinics and drug abuse treatment centers — can all be found on the site. Community Health staffers said Thursday that they know of no other state with a similar search tool.

DCH officials said it will help the state in case of emergencies or natural disasters to notify and identify health facilities for the possible relocation of residents.

Community Health officials also discussed Medicaid expansion, the new managed care initiative for the aged, blind and disabled population in Medicaid, and the importance of the hospital provider tax in interviews with reporters after the agency’s board meeting Thursday.
At that meeting, Ross Mason announced his resignation as chairman of the agency board, citing personal and business reasons. No successor was named.

Mason commended DCH staff for “fabulous work’’ on creating the GaMap2Care tool.

Community Health’s commissioner, David Cook, said GaMap2Care “will allow the public to make more informed choices as they search, see and select health care facilities.’’

“It will be helpful for the health care business community when deciding where to locate a new facility,” Cook added.

The tool will improve scheduling efficiency for agency surveyors who inspect facilities.

The GaMap2Care site also has information on recent inspection reports for many facilities, though not all. Those reports that are shown appear to have scant information for consumers.

For quality of care and inspection information, a consumer may want to check the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Hospital Compare, Nursing Home Compare, Home Health Compare and Dialysis Facility Compare sites.

Separately, Community Health officials said Thursday that the managed care program envisioned for aged, blind and disabled Medicaid patients will aim to improve the coordination of their care. Some beneficiaries are overusing local hospital emergency rooms, the officials noted.

The goal is to ‘‘connect people to a medical home,’’ said state Medicaid director Jerry Dubberly. The ‘‘medical home’’ concept is about designating a single health care provider for as many of a patient’s needs as possible.

Cook, the agency commissioner, also said that CMS will have to give more guidance to states on their decisions whether to expand their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states must have more flexibility to reject expansion than the ACA initially gave them.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has said he does not intend to expand the state’s Medicaid rolls under the current federal rules governing the change.

“We’re very interested in having more clarity and getting more information from CMS’’ about Medicaid expansion, Cook said.

Cook warned that the ACA’s provision to increase the pay of doctors under Medicaid starting in January isn’t possible from a technical standpoint. Instead, he said, Community Health hopes to get those extra payments implemented in a few months, and then make them retroactive.

And he reasserted the budgetary importance of the hospital provider tax, which brings $600 million into the Medicaid program annually and is up for renewal next year.

The levy is expected to draw some legislative opposition in the Georgia General Assembly.


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Andy Miller

Andy Miller is editor and CEO of Georgia Health News

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