FTC orders Health Group closure - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

FTC orders Health Group closure

September 10, 2003

Tifton - Health care is expensive and costs are on the rise. That's why Worksite is holding a symposium to teach employers how to keep costs down.

Worksite President Bill Bennett says the symposium is, "To make employers aware of the alternatives they can use to manage costs not shift costs."

But the FTC says one reason healthcare in South Georgia is so expensive is because groups like South Georgia Health Partners are fixing prices. The group is owned by five physician-hospital organizations located in Moultrie, Thomasville, Tifton, Valdosta, and Waycross.

"Unless other hospitals are extremely efficient," says SGHP CEO Frank Riley, "you're not going to find any that are lower in their average charge than our hospitals have been."

But after a year long investigation the FTC has decided to shut the group down.

"We can't fight this out in court," Riley says, "So our organization felt the best thing for us to do was just dissolve at the end of the year.

Frank Jones is the CFO of a Tifton business, he says shutting down the health group may help to lower prices, but it won't completely resolve the problem.

Jones says, "I think it will give another opportunity for employers to maybe receive a pricing decrease that will help reduce the healthcare costs, but that alone, we've seen, is not the answer."

But hopefully an answer will soon be discovered that allows for more affordable healthcare to all of South Georgia.

South Georgia Health Partners may fulfill current contracts but will completely close on December 31st.

posted at 6:27 PM by karen.collier@walb.com