House Bill 482, which would have allowed for the expansion of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America’s Newnan hospital, has come to a halt due to a lack of support.
“I felt it would be a debate without a purpose, because it wasn’t going to be a bill that was going to get out of that committee at this time,” said Rep. Wendell Willard, R-Sandy Springs about the bill’s cancelled first hearing.
Willard still hopes to eventually form a study committee that could better debate the issue, but the bill faces strong opposition from the state’s hospital industry.
Thanks to legislation passed in 2008, Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), a for-profit organization, was able to open a new hospital in Georgia while bypassing the “certificate of need” process that is normally required to build or expand a hospital.
However, the state did outline certain requirements: that the cancer hospital needed to attract 65 percent of its patients from out of state, limit its size to 50 beds and treat low-income Georgians by providing charity care and taking Medicaid patients.
HB 482 would have done away with the 50-bed maximum and requirement stating that the Cancer Treatment Center of America at Southeastern Regional Medical Center must draw the majority of its patients from outside of Georgia.
Because of the out-of-state requirement in place, CTCA said they are forced to deny treatment to Georgia patients seeking options at the Newnan cancer center.
Willard sponsored HB 482 because of his dislike for the state’s certificate of need requirements. “I really think it’s inappropriate for the government to put limitations on how many patients a medical facility should be able to receive within the jurisdiction where it’s located,” he said.
The bill came to light amid new public reports raising questions about whether the Newnan hospital was successfully meeting state mandates. In a recent report covering inpatient admissions, the CTCA hospital said it admitted three Medicaid patients last year from a total of 1,007 admissions, less than 1 percent. On the other hand, 88 percent of its hospital admissions consisted of patients with private insurance, according to the report.
Many of the state’s hospitals support the bill’s current stalemate. They do not believe it is fair to give CTCA additional special treatment.
“I think the committee realized how big this issue is and that you have got to have certificate of need in order for all patients to have access to health care,” said Monty Veazey, president of the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals, which represents nonprofit and community facilities.
Adapted from AJC.com (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)