Phoebe board member wants competition - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Phoebe board member wants competition

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November 7, 2005

Albany -- An Albany doctor says Phoebe Putney Hospital needs some competition. Dr. Charles Gebhardt, who's on the Phoebe Board of Directors, says high health care costs are hurting Albany businesses and workers.

Gebhardt says those who suffer most are the uninsured.  "As expensive as medicine is, unless you've got good insurance, you are at a lower level of quality."

Several of Albany's largest industries have reported medical costs in South Georgia are higher than anywhere in their company locations.

Gebhardt says Phoebe Putney controls too much of the market. "This problem developed when the hospital authority leased the local community hospital to that hospital's board," said Gebhardt.

Gebhardt says the safeguard of a hospital authority overseeing the people hired to run the business office is not working. And now high medical cost are impacting Albany workers hardest.  "We are actually seeing a decline in income because of your health care costs. Particularly we see that in Albany."

Albany businesses are passing on skyrocketing medical costs to workers. Dr. Gebhardt said, "We see more and more of the health care cost burden is being borne by the employee. Because the employers feels like they have to share more of the cost with them, because of the rapid inflation."

Fewer people have health insurance because of rapidly rising costs. But without insurance, Gebhardt says the patients will get inferior treatment.  "The truth of the matter is for about 90 percent of Americans, the best medical care is not available unless you've got health insurance."

Dr. Gebhardt says citizens should write to politicians and urge them to update Certificate of Need laws, allowing more competition in medicinal care.

Phoebe officials say a recent medical cost study conducted by the hosptial shows Phoebe charges less than most other Georgia hospitals.

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