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Stone asks more of Phoebe

Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital offered to cut the price of its contract to provide inmate care with the county by $643k Monday.

Commissioner Jack Stone

Commissioner Jack Stone

— Dougherty County Commissioner Jack Stone urged his fellow commissioners Monday to write a letter to Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital executives urging them to chip in more to the financial stability to the county.

"The taxpayers of this county were there for them when they couldn't keep their doors open," Stone said. "I think it would nice if they could help the county when it needs it."

Stone's comments come after commissioners learned Monday that Phoebe had agreed to slash the price it was charging the county to provide health care services to inmates at the Dougherty County Jail, saving the county $643,000.

The move allowed County Administrator Richard Crowdis to cut the number of unpaid holidays he and fellow county employees will have to take from nine to three in the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Stone's message Monday echoes one he gave before the Hospital Authority of Albany and Dougherty County recently in which he told the members that, since they were required by the constitution of the state to provide health care to the indigent, Phoebe should pickup the full tab of inmates at the jail.

"They're job is make sure indigent people can get medical care," Stone said. "There ain't no more indigent people in Dougherty County than the people who are out at the jail."

Stone's call to Phoebe comes as the full Dougherty County Commission begins deliberations on its Fiscal Year 2013 budget, which is slated to begin July 1.

The budget has already largely been crafted by Crowdis, his staff and the Dougherty County Finance Subcommittee.

Monday, Stone called on the commission to send a letter to Phoebe CEO Joel Wernick and Board member Lemuel Griffin calling on Phoebe to step up and "help the county out."

Stone recalled a time when Phoebe's finances weren't as rosy as they appear to be now; a period when mustering $195 million for the purchase of their crosstown rival hospital was all but a pipe dream.

It was during that period that Stone says that former hospital administrator Duncan Moore called on the county commission to dedicate a portion of the millage rate levied on property owners to help prop the hospital up.

"There was a time, I'm told, that they couldn't keep the doors open if it wasn't for the taxpayers of this county," Stone said. "I think it's time that they returned the favor."

While Stone's comments seem harsh towards the not-for-profit hospital, he later tempered his comments, saying that Phoebe deserved to be the hospital to run the former campus of Palmyra Medical Centers.

County Attorney Spencer Lee hinted that it was partially Stone's comments that prompted a phone call from Phoebe's lead lawyer Tommy Chambless, who offered to cut the price on the jail contract.

"I think that this was their offer to help," Lee said. "If you're wanting to counter offer, then that's something else," Lee said to the commission.

Last year, Phoebe approached the county with a last--minute offer to cut the cost of the inmate healthcare contract in exchange for a one-year extension. That cut, coupled with more than $600,000 in savings from the county's health plan, allowed the county commission to spare its employees from any unpaid holidays.

Comments

Cartman 2 years, 2 months ago

Now Phoebe could buy Dougherty County.

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fatdaddygamer 2 years, 2 months ago

why cut the cost for just inmates? cut costs for me and everyone else.

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VietVet1 2 years, 2 months ago

Inmates aren't paying taxes. So they need yours.

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ObjectiveEyes 2 years, 2 months ago

"They're job is make sure indigent people can get medical care," Stone said. "There ain't no more indigent people in Dougherty County than the people who are out at the jail."

Finally, someone with the guts to call out Phoebe. The uninformed will marvel at Phoebe's "good deed" of saving the County $600k+. Where do you think this $600k and the $195 million to purchase Palmyra came from? It came out of the pockets of the hard-working citizens with insurance. But, it's like monopoly (no pun intended) money to them.

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KaosinAlbany 2 years, 2 months ago

I actually have to agree with Stone on this one. PPMH could do a little more for the community it serves. It's only fair.

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Cartman 2 years, 2 months ago

If we had a functional Hospital Authority, they could make that happen. They could still make it happen as a condition to the Palmyra lease. They should at least try to negotiate something better than a dollar a year.

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TheMember 2 years, 2 months ago

Go sit in the emergency room and watch all the Dougherty County citizens go to their "doctors appointments" They provide more free healthcare than Obama provides food stamps. Maybe not that much, but it is why the healthcare costs are so high. Keep messing with Phoebe, then they will stick the taxpapers with all the nonpayer's bills. If we exchange those write offs for Phoebe paying land tax, we would lose big time.

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WeAreThey 2 years, 2 months ago

Ever heard of MEDICAID ?? That's who reimburses Phoebe for the vast majority of that 'free' healthcare. And in case you haven't already heard, the taxpayers of Dougherty County are already bearing great cost burdens from this 'deal with the devil'.

Please take the time to read and learn about this issue before making uninformed statements. Our ignorance, as citizens, is being used as justification for the back room deals that have been done since 1990. Our ignorance has created our apathy. Our apathy has allowed our tenant to operate as they please.

This taxpayer, for one, would welcome the chance to see the math on the TRUE cost of the unreimbursed indigent care provided by Phoebe vs. the lost property tax revenue on all Phoebe-owned properties.

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TheMember 2 years, 2 months ago

Medicaid MAY pay 20% of the actual bill. I sure would hate to see Albany lose Phoebe, not sure about you, but I guess you think Albany would survive. Don't think so.

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WeAreThey 2 years, 2 months ago

'The actual bill'? What exactly is that? The routinely-inflated amount usually charged off? As I said before, I'd like to see the TRUE cost of the unreimbursed indigent care rendered by Phoebe.

Phoebe leave Albany? Mr. Wernick or his staff could leave town, I suppose. After all, they are just employees of the operator. But "Phoebe" leave? It all belongs to the Hospital Authority and is operated by a board of local citizens and physicians. I think they are all here for the long haul.

There's your ignorance showing again. Or perhaps it's a poor attempt at deliberate, fear-mongering disinformation.

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