Lower Oconee Community Hospital in southeast Georgia has closed due to financial problems, becoming the state’s fourth rural hospital to do so in the past two years. The 25-bed “critical access” hospital in Glenwood, in Wheeler County, is looking to restructure, its CEO said in a statement.
The 26 community boards that offer services to Georgians with behavioral health problems and developmental disabilities would face new oversight under a state Senate bill introduced this week. The legislation follows recent trouble connected with one such community service board in Coastal Georgia. A September state report on Gateway Behavioral Health Services last year said its operation was riddled with financial irregularities and management problems.
State Sen. Tommie Williams and three other General Assembly members Tuesday urged their colleagues to pass legislation this year that would require private health insurance companies in Georgia to cover treatment for autism. Williams’ niece’s daughter, Ava Bullard, is the inspiration for the proposed legislation, Ava’s Law. The issue has been raised at the Legislature for the past five years, Williams said.
Tea Party and other activists opposed to the federal Affordable Care Act packed a small hearing room Monday to listen to the arguments in favor of House Bill 707, sponsored by Rep. Jason Spencer (R-Woodbine). The bill would prevent state institutions and employees from implementing ACA provisions.
Pharmacy officials say robberies are occurring with greater frequency in Georgia. Ironically, the officials link the increase to the state’s recent success in cracking down on the scourge of “pill mills’’ in the state. Pill mills are clinics or doctor’s offices that prescribe oxycodone and other powerful narcotics without a legitimate medical purpose. Georgia became a pill mill magnet after neighboring states, including Florida, passed tougher laws regulating pain clinics.
A state agency offered some financial relief to state employees and teachers Monday by approving changes in their health plan at a specially called board meeting. The sudden action by the Department of Community Health board follows a deluge of complaints from members of the State Health Benefit Plan, which also covers other school personnel, state retirees and dependents.
State Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) and nine other Moral Monday Georgia supporters were arrested inside Gov. Nathan Deal’s office Monday after refusing repeated police orders to leave. The demonstrators wanted Deal to accept their letter urging him to expand the state’s Medicaid program.
More than 58,000 Georgians signed up for health coverage in the insurance exchange by Dec. 28, a nearly tenfold jump from the enrollment figure a month before, according to a federal report released Monday. The increase reflected a more functional federal website for people to navigate, and came ahead of the deadline of late December to sign up for insurance to begin Jan. 1.
A safe prediction for the upcoming session of the Georgia General Assembly is that dozens of bills involving health care will be up for consideration. That’s the case every year under the Gold Dome. But given the likelihood this year of a short session, ending in mid-March, it’s also a good bet that many health bills will be sidetracked or stalled before they come to a vote. Here’s a roundup of some of the important legislative issues in health care.
After two years of receiving a bonus, Georgia is not included in the latest round of federal performance awards for enrolling eligible children in government health insurance programs. A state qualifies for a federal bonus by implementing procedures to simplify enrollment and renewal to ensure that all eligible children have easier access to coverage under Medicaid and CHIP, which in Georgia is known as PeachCare.