ATLANTA – A combination of state senators, health-care executives, and an insurance industry representative were named Wednesday to a study committee that will look for ways to reform the state’s certificate of need (CON) process.

Capitol Beat News Service
This story also appeared in Capitol Beat News Service

Lt. Gov. Burt Jones, who presides over the Senate, appointed the members of the Senate Study Committee on Certificate of Need Reform after efforts to address the issue during this year’s General Assembly session failed.

Legislation that gained the most traction before falling by the wayside was a bill that would have exempted most rural hospitals from Georgia’s CON law, which requires applicants looking to build new health-care facilities or provide new medical services to demonstrate a need for them in their communities. The Senate passed the measure in late February, but it died in the state House of Representatives.

A second Senate bill that would have repealed the CON law entirely except in connection with long-term care facilities cleared a Senate committee but failed to reach the floor for a vote.

“As a sixth-generation rural Georgian, I understand from personal experience what a lack of health-care access means to rural Georgia families,” Jones said Wednesday. “Expanding access to health care and reviewing how the current certificate of need laws are hindering this process will be a focus of this study committee.”

State Sen. Ben Watson

The 12-member study committee will be chaired by Sen. Greg Dolezal, R-Cumming, chief sponsor of the bill that made it through the Senate. Other senators who will serve on the panel include Matt Brass, R-Newnan; Bill Cowsert, R-Athens; Ed Harbison, D-Columbus; Kay Kirkpatrick, R-Marietta; Freddie Powell Sims, D-Dawson; and Ben Watson, R-Savannah.

Citizen appointees to the panel include Mark Baker, CEO of Hughston Clinic; Matt Hasbrouck, CEO at Memorial Meadows in Vidalia; Christine Macewen of Piedmont Health Care; Jesse Weathington, CEO of the Georgia Association of Health Plans; and Dr. Steven Wertheim, former co-president of Resurgens.

The study committee will hold meetings throughout the state in communities where proposed health-care projects were denied or limited due to CON regulations. Dates and locations will be announced at a later date.

This story available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, an initiative of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.

Dave Williams is bureau chief for Capitol Beat News Service, a service of the Georgia Press Education Foundation.