Georgia is suffering a wave of overdoses as new forms of extremely potent and often deadly drugs make their way into our communities. In fact, a new report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality shows that opioid-related hospital admissions nearly doubled between 2009 and 2014 – the highest rate of the 43 states examined. The Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals and our 86 members across the state are proud to be part of the first-line of response to these sobering tragedies.
These illegal drugs, which know no geographic, demographic or economic bounds, have changed the way that overdoses come into our hospital emergency rooms and demonstrate the importance of having a robust and resilient network of hospital emergency departments.
Increasingly, overdoses come in clusters of multiple incidences within a short time. The impact on an emergency room can be paralyzing, even for a large Metro Atlanta hospital, much less a smaller facility in a rural market. The impact can also be lasting, as stabilized patients often require prolonged medical support, including intensive care and services from a number of different departments.
On top of this growing epidemic, emergency rooms are also experiencing increased visits related to behavioral or mental health, which have have skyrocketed nearly 60% over the same period. This is in addition to the heart attacks, accidents and other life threatening situations that bring patients through their doors and require a hospital’s full capabilities to treat. This week, Becker’s Hospital Review ranked the emergency rooms with the most visits per year, placing two Metro Atlanta facilities in the top ten nationwide.
As hospitals deal with the strain of increasing admissions, the existence of a strong network of neighboring hospitals helps distribute the patient load and ensure timely access to care. But today, as hospitals across Georgia struggle under the pressure of financial challenges caused by factors including changing demographics, growing numbers of underinsured and uninsured patients, and declining populations – that network is at risk.
For example, it is estimated that Georgia hospitals performed $1.7 billion dollars worth of uncompensated care in 2015 alone, which is simply unsustainable. In addition, potential cuts in Medicare and Medicaid are being discussed in Washington, DC, that would force more hospitals to close their doors, as 7 in Georgia and 80 across the nation have been forced to do since 2010.
One of the keys to the stability of Georgia’s network of care is the state’s Certificate of Need (CON) program. This critical tool helps the state manage the availability and financial survival of safety net hospitals while ensuring access to emergency departments, advanced treatment, and routine healthcare needs. Despite the tenuous status of our current healthcare system, CON continues to come under attack, largely by out-of-state corporate chains whose priorities place financial gain before patient care.
At least five legislative proposals were brought forth during this year’s session of the General Assembly that sought to weaken or repeal the CON laws that protect our healthcare system. Since that time, the Georgia Department of Community Health has considered an additional proposal, but voted to retain the current rules.
Many of the arguments for repealing or weakening CON hinge on the idea that more facilities, offering limited services, will enhance patient choice. But experience proves that these new facilities often choose to offer only the most-lucrative procedures, to the most well-insured patients. This occurs at the expense of existing hospitals, which then lose the benefit of offering profitable services that help cover the cost of much-needed but costly services, such as emergency rooms and trauma centers.
Healthcare markets are different from most “free” markets for goods and services. Consumers often do not understand the true costs of care, nor do they have sufficient information to compare services by different providers or in different facilities.
Simply having more facilities does not equate to greater access for patients. As existing hospitals are weakened financially, sometimes closing as a result, patient choice is actually reduced, while unneeded facilities proliferate in lucrative markets.
Expert testimony recently commissioned by the Georgia Attorney General’s office demonstrated that CON programs can reduce healthcare costs, improve the quality of healthcare services, and expand access to care. Conversely, if existing hospitals are weakened financially, sometimes closing as a result, patient choice is ultimately reduced.
Georgia’s hospital system faces serious challenges, from the rise of opioid overdose clusters and spread of infectious diseases like the Zika virus, to the political and financial challenges emanating from Washington, DC. Preserving and strengthening our front line of healthcare response is vital not only to our health, but to our continuing prosperity as a state. The time could not be worse for weakening protections for our hospital system, which would come at the unquestionable risk of reducing access to healthcare and emergency services.
Monty Veazey is President of the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals, a statewide organization of not-for-profit hospitals. He served in the Georgia House of Representatives from 1977 to 1983.
Sen. David Lucas to Host Second Rural Georgia Study Committee Meeting
ATLANTA (August 7, 2017) | Sen. David Lucas (D – Macon) will hold a two-day Rural Georgia Study Committee Meeting to discuss broadband, healthcare, telecommunications and developing tourism TOMORROW from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. and WEDNESDAY from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m. The meeting will be held at the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega.
WHO: Sen. David Lucas and Rural Georgia Study Committee Members
WHAT: Two-day Rural Georgia Study Committee Meeting
WHEN: Tuesday, August 8, 2017
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Wednesday, August 9, 2017
9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
WHERE: University of North Georgia
Continuing Education Center in Dahlonega
25 Schultz Avenue
Dahlonega, GA 30597
Sen. David Lucas, Sr. represents the 26th Senate District, which includes portions of Bibb, Houston and Jones Counties and all of Hancock, Twiggs, Washington and Wilkinson Counties. He may be reached at 404.656.5035 or by email at[email protected].
ATLANTA, June 30, 2017 – Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, along with Sens. Renee Unterman, Dean Burke, Chuck Hufstetler, Ben Watson, Kay Kirkpatrick, Jack Hill and Doc Rhett, will hold a meeting of Georgia’s Health Care Reform Task Force at Tift Regional Medical Center on MONDAY, July 10, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. Members will discuss innovative reforms to advance Georgia as a national leader in delivering patient-centered health care.
The Task Force will be hear presentations from representatives of Tift Regional Medical Center, Emory University, and Dr. Keith J. Mueller, Interim Dean of the College of Public Health at the University of Iowa.
Who: Lt. Governor Casey Cagle
What: Georgia’s Health Care Reform Task Force Meeting
When: Monday, July 10th at 10:00 a.m.
Where: Tift Regional Medical Center
901 18th St. Tifton, GA 31794
Most of our nation’s young people under the age of 30, are the products of some form of
government control. They enjoyed free meals at schools, health care, education, housing, etc..
The expected requirement of their acceptance was to obey teachers and school administrators.
The punishment that followed, if they deviated from the official dogma, was to be ostracized and
shamed. Through the collectivization of their thought process, they needed to only to know what
was taught to them and to ignore what they learn outside the school environment from their
parents, friends, relatives and Fox news. Attempts at original thought was/is discouraged.
Schools can’t proceed as they do without the political and financial support of politicians; the
very ones, the “Establishment Elites,” we are fighting today. It is they who organize the standard
dumb-down curriculum to ensure implementation of their socialist ideas without comment. All
propaganda and brainwashing. Don’t dare show up with a MAGA hat.
Unobstructed, politicians know that the more they lie the more we tend to believe them and
become more dependent on them. Without the constant barrage of propaganda, our attention
span would decline and they’ed lose control over our actions. The present predicament of the
Progressive sneaked up on ‘em and their supporters in the elections of 2012, 2014 and 2016.
The Democrat Elites lost control because believed their own nonsense and didn’t see the Trump
tidal wave coming. We see it often enough when we recognize otherwise smart folks acting
contrary to their own best interests without a second thought. That’s the power of propaganda
but, it must be a continuous daily drumming on the listeners’ senses if it is to stick!
Trump, like a breeze of fresh air, beyond all possible reasoning of media ‘pundents,’ confronted
them with a serious challenge to their belief system and their minds closed tight, because,
without a script or a firm belief that their dumbing down of the populous has really worked, they
don’t know what to do. Witness Sen. Elizabeth, the Indian Princess. Her defense of her
Pocahontas DNA tests was a fraud. That wee drop of native blood she says she has comes
from South America, from an illegal no doubt. Trump trolled her and, like a slippery fish bent on
absolution, she rose to the bait and now looks like a complete fool. It’s exactly the same for silly
Hillary who thinks she and Bill can tour the country, at $1000.00 a head, and draw the big
crowds like Trump does.
When challenged, progressives immediately go into avoidance behavior. They scream, holler or
’PooPoo’ the challenge as a “Vast Right-Wing conspiracy,” label it as stupid and unworkable and
move on to the next subject threatening dire punishment for any who dare question their truth.
Alinskites know that organized and sophisticated propaganda operates outside the normal level
of intelligence. So, without some reason to ask questions, as many intelligent people don’t, they
accept the lies and myths the same as the mass general population. Repeated often enough,
the propaganda then becomes conventional wisdom because, we rarely accept challenges to
conventional wisdom. Once belittled, it’s never considered again. Here is where they ignore
facts even when those facts support contrary knowledge, and embrace “stupid.”
When do myths, used to persuade people, become dangerous? When the people accept them
as ‘benefits. That’s the power of propaganda. Losing an illusion actually makes us wiser than
finding a truth.
Remember, freedom is the goal, the Constitution is the way. Now, go get ‘em! (17Oct18)
Featuring Dr. Bill Whaley.
Sponsered by the Georgia Cancer Specialists.
Dr. Whaley and BKP talk HIllary’s Health and National Healthcare.
Part Two of the GMFTO series on Medical Marijuana, Cannabis Oil, and the effects for health treatment in our nation.