Phoebe responds to lawsuit - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Phoebe responds to lawsuit

By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

July 7, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Phoebe Putney hospital officials say a lawsuit filed against them by Palmyra Medical Centers has no merit. The lawsuit accuses Phoebe of being a monopoly and of coercing employers and insurance companies into exclusive contracts.

Phoebe says it competes, is good at it, and offers the best healthcare in the region.

When a lawsuit was filed Thursday against Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, Phoebe Putney Health system and the Hospital Authority of Dougherty County, Phoebe officials were shocked.

"We're amazed that Palmyra, a for profit hospital owned by HCA, a $33 Billion health care conglomerate feels like they can't compete against a stand alone community hospital," said Jackie Ryan.

The lawsuit alleges that Phoebe coerces businesses and insurance companies to enter into exclusive agreements that drive away competition in the region.

Ryan asked, "Do you think you could force an insurer into a contract? We negotiate contracts very carefully and we do compete and we compete aggressively and we've earned those contracts in a competitive market place and we've earned them because frankly, we provide the best care at the lowest possible cost."

Jackie Ryan, the assistant Vice President for Marketing and Communications for Phoebe says exclusive contracting is a common everyday practice in the health care industry.  When asked"Is Phoebe a monopoly in Southwest Georgia?"  She replied, "Phoebe competes everyday for every patient we have and every patient who comes through our doors has a choice. There's plenty of competition here."

Ryan says not only does Phoebe offer superior service, but as a non-profit offers charity and indigent care.

Officials from Palmyra Medical Center won't go on camera, but they issued a statement when the lawsuit was filed Thursday.  In it, President and CEO Bud Wethington said the lawsuit was filed to "break the monopoly Phoebe Putney has on local hospital services, to open commercial insurance arrangements up to competition, to provide new Palmyra services and to restore patient choice to our region."

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