Savannah, GA – The 18th Annual HomeTown Health Spring Conference is now underway, and Thomas O’Brien, President of O’Brien & Feiler is attending for the first time as a Business Partner. OBF recently was vetted and approved by HomeTown Health, and is pleased to be participating as the sole Medicaid Eligibility Business Partner. The theme of the conference is “The Heart of Community – Rural Health Artistry”.
A Strong Start – HomeTown Legislative Update
Attendees on Thursday morning heard from Jimmy Lewis and Georgia Representative Terry England who provided an update regarding a busy legislative session. Several items were addressed to varying levels of success by the Georgia Legislature this session including:
- Micro-Hospital Rules – A narrow set of rules whereby larger hospital systems in lower population counties can take over small operations for the purposes of expanding the reach of their care.
- Raising the Tax Credit to 100% – Effective July 1, 2018, but not retroactive. This is a positive way in which hospitals can receive cash injections straight into their operating budgets.
- Mandatory Board Training – This bill ensures that member of hospital boards seek out training to ensure that they fulfill their fiduciary duties to the best of their ability.
- Surprise Medical Billing – No bill passed this session, because of disagreements regarding the different solutions available. Expect this to be raised again next session.
- Certificates of Need – No significant changes happened during this past legislative session, but the fight continues to brew, and has created substantial issues between balancing the issue of hospital protection (patient mix, etc.) with free market values.
- Garnishment of Refunds – this measure failed, but was designed to seek compensation for unpaid medical bills from debtors’ tax refunds.
- Remote Pharmacy – Providing better access to pharmacy services in the rural context.
- ER Triage – some rural hospitals will see increases in ER reimbursements.
- Establishing an Innovation Center – improving data sharing and best process adoption.
Among the concerns that were expressed during the legislative update was an expression of the composition changes of the Georgia Legislative bodies. Population density is pushing Georgia’s senate and house to be increasingly representative of larger cities in Georgia as opposed to the rural areas. In response to this, the need for education and collaboration between these sometimes disparate interests was underscored. Agriculture and agribusiness are pivotal to ensuring Georgia’s future, as is maintaining the ability to seek high quality medical care in rural areas.
Did you know?
- Health Services represent Georgia’s second largest budget line item after education.
- Georgia’s budget includes about 17-18% of discretionary funding, versus the federal government which has about 4%.
- Georgia welcomes about 115,000 new residents to the state yearly.
- 2018 has represented a cash drought for Georgia rural hospitals.
O’Brien & Feiler is pleased to be a part of this educational opportunity, and looks forward to continuing to support Georgia’s Rural Hospital through Medicaid Eligibility outreach, education, and assistance.