Friday, February 21, 2014

Legislation would authorize urgent-care centers in rural Georgia, where hospitals keep closing

Sen. David Lucas
Rural hospitals in Georgia keep closing, with three shutting their doors last year, one closing this year, and several more, most of them critical access hospitals, in danger of being shut down. With so many hospitals taking it day to day, Sen. David Lucas (D-Macon), whose district includes all or part of five rural counties, including one where the only hospital closed, has come up with a solution, presenting a bill to open small emergency rooms in under-served rural counties, Maggie Lee reports for The Telegraph in Macon.

The bill would allow tiny stabilization centers or urgent care centers "to provide triage, then send patients to hospitals" and  "exempts such stabilization centers from having to prove to state hospital regulators that they are a viable proposition," Lee writes. “We are not a Third World country,” Lucas told a Senate committee, but “somehow we’ve done everything in this state for economic development, airline tax breaks, folks who make planes get tax breaks, but we’re talking about the average Georgia citizen.”

Lucas, who suggested the centers would need to use federal funds, asked the committee "for a few days to fine-tune his bill in consultation with hospital regulators," saying the bill in its current form is not technically workable. (Read more)

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