Phoebe defends health care charges - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Phoebe defends health care charges

February 1, 2006

Albany -- For their third straight meeting, Phoebe's board brought in facts and figures to show their pricing is in line with other hospitals in Georgia.

Albany's big three industries claim their employee health care costs are the highest in the nation where they have plants. The biggest health provider in the region, Phoebe Putney Hospital again said that they are not the problem.

Phoebe Putney Hospital's board spent a good portion of their meeting reviewing Comparative Charge Data. Hospital leaders are concerned about Albany industry reports that show Southwest Georgia health care costs are among the highest anywhere.

Phoebe Putney C.E.O. Joel Wernick said "They have yet to provide Phoebe Putney specific data to respond to."

Wednesday's Charge Data from the Georgia Department of Community Health claimed that Phoebe's room charges, average first hour operating room, and average Inpatient charges are all lower than the average Georgia 300 bed hospital costs.

Phoebe C.E.O. Joel Wernick says working Americans are frustrated paying the health care costs for people who can't pay. "Seemingly goes against the fairness issue that Americans tend to judge things by. You know, I work hard for what I have, why should I have to bear part of that burden."

Albany Industry leaders started a tax free lobbying group called CACH, trying to get more competitive pricing in Georgia health care by updating Certificate of Need laws.

Phoebe benefits from certain health care monopolies because of Certificate of Need laws, and say indigent health care could suffer if those laws are changed. Wernick said "I do think it's important that they not confuse Certificate of Need with an overall broken national health care system."

CACH spokesperson Vince Falcione says their group welcomes Phoebe Putney's help to improve Southwest Georgia health care and it's costs.

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