Cancer Treatment Hospitals battle Hospital Lobby for Expansion

| October 13, 2015

Healthcare Costs

ATLANTA — A key House leader is joining her Senate colleagues in raising concerns about a move to let a politically connected private cancer hospital treat more Georgia patients.

House Health and Human Services Chairwoman Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta, said her committee is keeping a close eye on an upcoming vote by the Department of Community Health board on Cancer Treatment Centers of America’s plans to expand its patient base.

“I and the rest of my committee members will closely monitor the board’s action, and we reserve the right to intervene or take corrective action, if necessary,” Cooper said.

The national cancer treatment company tried and failed earlier this year to get the General Assembly to approve the expansion, so it is now seeking the change from the DCH board. That move has angered some legislative leaders, who say the company is trying to make an end run around the General Assembly.

Cooper’s counterpart, Senate Health and Human Services Chairwoman Renee Unterman, R-Buford, has already blasted the move.

The DCH is holding a public hearing on the issue Tuesday, and the board is supposed to take final action at its November meeting.

The board in September tentatively approved the rule change to allow the company to shed its in-state patient cap.

CTCA says the cap unfairly prevents Georgia patients from getting help at its facility. Other hospitals say CTCA cherry-picks patients with the highest-paying insurance coverage while leaving other hospitals to shoulder the burden of care for Medicaid cancer patients and other indigent patients.

Georgia typically requires hospitals to go through a stringent “Certificate of Need” process that is intended to control costs and prevent an oversupply of health care facilities. But in 2008, the General Assembly allowed CTCA to open a facility in Newnan as a so-called “destination hospital.” As such, lawmakers limited it to 50 beds and required that at least 65 percent of its patients come from out of state.

The new rule would give the hospital a pathway to become a general hospital that isn’t required to have an emergency room. With the new designation, it would no longer have to get most of its patients from out of state. It would also be able to apply to expand beyond 50 beds.



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