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Georgia Senate lawmakers have passed a bill aimed at relaxing health permit regulations, marking its final approval

Georgia lawmakers reached a consensus on Thursday regarding amendments to the state’s health care permitting law, as the House and Senate both granted final approval to House Bill 1339. The bill now awaits the decision of Gov. Brian Kemp, who will decide whether to sign it into law or veto it.

One significant aspect of the measure is its provision allowing the historically Black Morehouse School of Medicine to establish a hospital in central Atlanta, intended to offer services similar to those provided by the now-defunct Atlanta Medical Center. Additionally, the bill permits the opening of hospitals without permits in rural counties where a hospital has been closed for over a year. This could potentially enable the reopening of a hospital in Cuthbert, a town in southwest Georgia, which ceased operations in 2020.

Certificates of need (CON), a regulatory framework established in Georgia since the 1970s, mandate that individuals seeking to develop health facilities or introduce new services must demonstrate the necessity for expansion. The objective of these permits is to prevent excessive spending that could inflate health care expenses. Lt. Gov. Burt Jones, a Republican, has advocated for reducing or eliminating these regulations, citing them as obstacles to expanding quality health care. A previous disagreement between Jones and House Speaker Jon Burns involved a proposal to construct a new hospital in Butts County, where Jones resides, with opposition from the existing hospital.

Reflecting on the vote, Jones emphasized the necessity of reforming CON laws to improve access to quality health care, stating, “For decades, CON laws have unfortunately represented a barrier to expanding quality healthcare.” He applauded the legislative progress made towards addressing these obstacles.

While the Senate had proposed additional changes, such as allowing outpatient surgery centers to serve multiple medical specialties without permits and permitting new imaging centers to open without permits, the House rejected these amendments. However, the House did approve the establishment of outpatient birthing centers without permits.

Moreover, the bill facilitates the construction of new hospitals in counties with populations under 50,000, contingent upon commitments to provide charity care, participate in the statewide trauma system, and offer psychiatric services. It also eliminates dollar caps on expenditures for existing hospitals on buildings or equipment, provided they are not introducing new services, and streamlines processes for transferring beds between campuses or relocating hospitals.

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Georgia Senate lawmakers have passed a bill aimed at relaxing health permit regulations, marking its final approval

Georgia lawmakers reached a consensus on Thursday regarding amendments to the state’s health care permitting law, as the House and Senate both granted final approval to House Bill 1339. The bill now awaits the decision of Gov. Brian Kemp, who will decide whether to sign it into law or veto it.

One significant aspect of the measure is its provision allowing the historically Black Morehouse School of Medicine to establish a hospital in central Atlanta, intended to offer services similar to those provided by the now-defunct Atlanta Medical Center. Additionally, the bill permits the opening of hospitals without permits in rural counties where a hospital has been closed for over a year. This could potentially enable the reopening of a hospital in Cuthbert, a town in southwest Georgia, which ceased operations in 2020.

Certificates of need (CON), a regulatory framework established in Georgia since the 1970s, mandate that individuals seeking to develop health facilities or introduce new services must demonstrate the necessity for expansion. The objective of these permits is to prevent excessive spending that could inflate health care expenses. Lt. Gov. Burt Jones, a Republican, has advocated for reducing or eliminating these regulations, citing them as obstacles to expanding quality health care. A previous disagreement between Jones and House Speaker Jon Burns involved a proposal to construct a new hospital in Butts County, where Jones resides, with opposition from the existing hospital.

Reflecting on the vote, Jones emphasized the necessity of reforming CON laws to improve access to quality health care, stating, “For decades, CON laws have unfortunately represented a barrier to expanding quality healthcare.” He applauded the legislative progress made towards addressing these obstacles.

While the Senate had proposed additional changes, such as allowing outpatient surgery centers to serve multiple medical specialties without permits and permitting new imaging centers to open without permits, the House rejected these amendments. However, the House did approve the establishment of outpatient birthing centers without permits.

Moreover, the bill facilitates the construction of new hospitals in counties with populations under 50,000, contingent upon commitments to provide charity care, participate in the statewide trauma system, and offer psychiatric services. It also eliminates dollar caps on expenditures for existing hospitals on buildings or equipment, provided they are not introducing new services, and streamlines processes for transferring beds between campuses or relocating hospitals.

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