State Rep wants Phoebe's finances open - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

State Rep wants Phoebe's finances open

August 24, 2004

Tifton-- The recent lawsuit filed by Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital against a man they say defamed them, has many speaking out, including state government officials.

Representative Austin Scott received more than 1,000 letters from Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital employees when the legislators proposed cuts to the Medicaid program. The letters, all the same, express concern the cuts would put the hospital in a financial crisis.

"When we responded and asked for copies of income statements and balance sheets of Phoebe they did not deliver them," Scott said.

Not only did that get Scott wondering about Phoebe's finances, but he says it wasn't the first time he's butted heads with the state's hospitals. "We tried to pass a bill this past year that would have required hospitals to give the same discount to uninsured patients that they give to insurance carriers. Two organizations that represent the various hospitals including the local hospital here both objected to the legislation."

The Tifton Representative says he applauds the efforts of Charles Rehberg, the man Phoebe is suing for defamation. "We need people like Charles Rehberg that are willing to come forward and tell the truth about the healthcare system and the finance mechanisms behind it, so that those of us that are making the policies can make policy that benefits the general public."

But Scott contends that hospitals like Phoebe aren't the only ones who don't like his bill to help the uninsured. He says a number of his own peers went to great lengths to stop it from ever getting to the house floor. "I think it would be interesting to see after the resistance that I've seen at the legislative level if there are any business relationships that exist between this organization and members of the legislature."

Even with the stiff opposition, the newly re-elected Scott says he will fight to push his bill through again.

Scott also says he's disappointed that Phoebe is using its corporate money to sue Rehberg. He thinks the hospital's board members should use their own money to fund the lawsuit.

posted at 5:10PM by dave.miller@walb.com

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