Healthcare Business News

Ga. bills encouraging transparency already generating controversy

By Rachel Landen
Posted: January 31, 2014 - 1:45 pm ET

Two Georgia bills have the potential to increase transparency for the state's community hospitals, but the proposals already are generating controversy in the state's healthcare community.

Rep. Jason Spencer and Sen. Jeff Mullis, both Republicans, introduced legislation—one in the Georgia House and one in the Senate—that would require regular hospital audits be submitted to the state. If a hospital does not cooperate, the state would have the discretion to withhold state funds.

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Spencer was prompted to sponsor House Bill 839 because of concerns over spending by St. Marys Hospital Authority, located in his district. According to Spencer, “there had never been an audit conducted throughout the more than 50 years of its existence prior to the 2012 fiscal year.” The closing of another county hospital in his part of the state also motivated Spencer to act, he said.

Mullis introduced his bill after concerns were raised about a hospital authority in northwest Georgia, his part of the state, which had run up a $60 million debt.

Spencer's bill, as well as Mullis' SB 302, also call for the appointment of a county commissioner to each hospital's voting board.

This particular proposal has caused some opponents to voice concern over a possible conflict of interest. County commissioners underwrite hospital debt, but also would be voting members of local hospital boards, presenting the opportunity of conflicts of interest. County commissioners authorize debt issuance for local community hospitals, so having a commissioner on a hospital board could present that person with an inherent conflict, opponents say,

Follow Rachel Landen on Twitter: @MHrlanden

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