Twenty-two Georgia hospitals have joined a project to reduce maternal death rates in the United States, a nursing group announced Wednesday. The Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses has launched an initiative to improve the treatment of pregnancy-related complications, and is focusing on birthing hospitals in Georgia and New Jersey. Georgia ranks 50th among states in maternal deaths.
The concept of a patient-centered medical home — which combines the modern-day advantages of computerized medical data with the old-time convenience of having a familiar doctor — is catching on across the country. More primary care practices have started to provide team care, and almost 7,000 have already been recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance as patient-centered medical homes. In Georgia, health insurers such as Aetna, Blue Cross, Kaiser Permanente and WellCare have launched medical home-style programs.
Georgia insurers received more than 220,000 applications for health coverage in the Affordable Care Act’s exchange as of the official federal deadline of March 31, state officials said Wednesday. Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, though, said premiums have been received for only 107,581 of those policies, which cover 149,465 people.
State officials said Tuesday that they plan to increase the number of insurers and health plan options for state employees and teachers next year. The State Health Benefit Plan (SHBP) has been a target of fierce criticism since Jan. 1. That’s when changes to its benefit design, plus the use of just one insurer, sparked widespread complaints from teachers and state employees about a lack of choice of insurance plans and higher health care costs.
The Federal Trade Commission on Monday requested 60 days beyond a previous deadline to decide whether to sign off on its 2013 antitrust settlement with an Albany hospital system. Monday was the FTC’s deadline to finalize the agreement with Phoebe Putney Health System.
About 70 percent of the overall budget for the Department of Public Health comes from federal grants. And that federal money has seen significant reductions. From fiscal 2012 to fiscal 2013, across all programs, Public Health lost about $25 million in federal money. And that drop has continued.
Last year, a bill that would renew a financing mechanism for the state’s Medicaid program hurtled irresistibly through the Georgia General Assembly. Gov. Nathan Deal signed it into law almost as soon as it was passed. The main part of the provider fee was eventually approved by the feds last year. But a second part of that provider fee, aimed at helping hospitals that were financial “losers’’ under the original distribution formula, has still not been approved.
Georgia’s high-profile hospital antitrust saga may not be over after all. The Federal Trade Commission is asking a state agency whether a potential divestiture of the Albany hospital that Phoebe Putney acquired in 2011 would require regulatory approval. Last August, the FTC and Phoebe Putney Health System announced they were settling the agency’s long-running antitrust suit over the hospital acquisition. But that deal has not yet been finalized.
The final enrollment day for the ACA insurance exchange was marred by computer glitches. The problem was a frustrating reminder of the much worse technical problems that plagued the website for weeks after it debuted in early October and November.