The Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals and its 59 member hospitals filed a lawsuit in Dougherty County Superior Court seeking to invalidate a state rule approved Dec. 13 that redefines general surgery as a single specialty and updates the definition of multispecialty ambulatory surgery services. According to the alliance, the rule change allows general surgeons to establish free-standing ambulatory surgery centers without going through the states certificate-of-need process.
A representative of the Georgia Board of Community Health was unavailable for comment at deadline, but a Dec. 13, 2007, Department of Community Health news release stated that the board unanimously approved the rule changes with no objections, and that the changes were based on recommendations included in a report prepared by the states Commission on the Efficacy of the Certificate of Need Program, which was established by Georgia General Assembly.
The alliance also maintains that the rule change allows ASC single-specialty practices to avoid state-mandated indigent-care commitments. The Board of Community Health, however, also on Dec. 13 approved a resolution calling on the General Assembly to create legislation mandating exempted ASC owners and operators to provide charitable care and provide documentation of this care to the state.
The alliance has called the boards action a stunning abuse of governmental authority and maintains that the rule change runs contrary to recent legislative votes and court decisions and that the board lacks the authority to change the existing rule. -- by Andis Robeznieks
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