The Georgia Board of Community Health in a unanimous 6-0 vote approved a controversial certificate-of-need rule on Dec. 13 that recognizes general surgeons as single specialists, paving the way for general surgeons to open ambulatory surgery centers. The rule goes into effect Jan. 1, 2008. While there are 200 small physician-owned ambulatory surgery centers in Georgiaowned by oral surgeons, ophthalmologist, plastic surgeons, gastroenterologists and orthopedic surgeonsnone are operated by general surgeons, according to the state Department of Community Health (DCH). Some experts estimate six to 12 general surgery groups will build or open ASCs if the rule goes unchallenged in court or overturned by the states General Assembly, which meets in January. We are thrilled for not only the general surgeons but for patients, said Kathy Browning, executive director of the Georgia Society of General Surgeons, Albany. They will have options to get higher quality and lower cost care, something they did not have before. The Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals says it will file a lawsuit to overturn the rule, says alliance president Monty Veazey. Hospitals also will ask the General Assembly to reverse the DCHs CON rule change, says Kevin Bloye, a spokesman with the Georgia Hospital Association. The GHA will join the lawsuit, he says. We are disappointed (in the boards decision), Bloye says. We still maintain the DCH doesnt have the legal authority to make changes.
Ga. general surgeons OK'd to open ambulatory surgery centers
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