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Bill offered to close hospital authority loophole

Phoebe North Hospital located on Palmyra Road.

Phoebe North Hospital located on Palmyra Road.

ATLANTA — Weeks before the U.S. Supreme court handed down a ruling critical of Georgia's law regarding hospital authorities and antitrust scrutiny, state lawmakers authored a bill they believe closes the loophole and will keep the federal government out of the medical merger business.

HB 230 is authored by six legislators including Rep. Jay Powell, R-Camilla, and Rep. Ed Rynders, R-Leesbug, and corrects Georgia law so that "hospital authorities created thereunder are acting pursuant to state policy; to articulate clearly and express affirmatively, and to clarify that it is and has been, the policy of the State of Georgia that such hospital authorities in the exercise of the powers specifically granted to them in Article 4 of Chapter 7 of Title 31 shall be immune from antitrust liability to the same degree and extent as enjoyed by the State of Georgia."

In the opinion written Tuesday by Justice Sonya Sotomayor, all nine justices concur that Georgia law isn't "clearly articulated" or affirmatively expressed.

"Under this Court's state-action immunity doctrine, when a local governmental entity acts pursuant to a clearly articulated and affirmatively expressed state policy to displace competition, it is exempt from scrutiny under the federal antitrust laws," the opinion begins. "In this case, we must decide whether a Georgia law that creates special-purpose public entities called hospital authorities and gives those entities general corporate powers, including the power to acquire hospitals, clearly articulates and affirmatively expresses a state policy to permit acquisitions that substantially lessen competition.

"Because Georgia's grant of general corporate powers to hospital authorities does not include permission to use those powers anticompetitively, we hold that the clear-articulation test is not satisfied and state action immunity does not apply."

The bill was first introduced Feb. 6.

Rynders said Tuesday afternoon that he joined the bill when Powell brought it to him weeks ago because it was "clearly and anti-Washington bill."

"At the end of the day I don't want a Washington agency dictating healthcare decisions in the state," Rynders said. "If Archbold wanted to buy a hospital in Mitchell County they should be able to do that without interference from Washington. I don't care who the hospital is."

"I don't want large healthcare conglomerations forming all over the state, but not having local control and access scares me more," Rynders said.

Rynders said that the other sponsors of the bill, Mickey Channell, R-Greensboro, Jason Shaw, R-Lakeland, Richard Smith, R-Columbus and Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta, were mostly from rural areas that understand the challenges facing small community health organizations.

Powell and Rynders each have received campaign contributions totaling thousands of dollars from health-related organizations and individuals since 2010, according to the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission website, including donations from the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals, various health insurance organizations and, for Rynders specifically, donations from Phoebe CEO Joel Wernick, CFO Kerry Loudermilk for $250 each and from Hospital Corporation of America, Palmyra's parent organization.

Those donations, on Rynders end at least, came mostly when Rynders was vice chair of the state health and human relations committee. He is now secretary of the committee.

Comments

beenhereawhile 1 year, 10 months ago

So is this being done so to allow Phoebe to complete their purchase of Palmyra?

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FryarTuk 1 year, 10 months ago

It only addresses the first question about the clarity of state law. The second question wasn't addressed at all by SCOTUS and it will probably be back in front of them particularly if the Apellant division doesn't refer it back to Judge Sands and I don't know if that's possible. Anyway, I'll bet it returns to SCOTUS for final review. The meters in the lawyers offices are spinning. Yeah buddy, they gonna have champagne and caviar tonight.

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Trustbuster 1 year, 10 months ago

Rynders and his cohorts are thinking about their positions that guarantee their incumbency protection plans.

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Cartman 1 year, 10 months ago

Phoebe phriends to the rescue. That will clear the way for the puppet Hospital Authority to do what has already been done anyways.

You didn't think the Phoebe bunch was really worried, did you?

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ScubaGolfJim 1 year, 10 months ago

Wow. Imagine that. Legalized Monopolies courtesy of corrupt politicians. The State of Georgia hospital authorities blocked every move by the Palmyra groups to expand and grow. For years they created mini-monopolies for Phoebe and denied the citizens of southwest Georgia a choice in specific types of services. . I've really enjoyed past comments from Phoebe supporters stating "the government should stay out of business" while all along it was the state government manipulating the medical services available to the people. Now, more of the same. I guess we won't be hearing those Phoebe supporters saying for government to stay out of business now. Just like their silence when everything was going Phoebe's way with the 'government interference.' . And how 'independent' is this story when the writer says the bill "corrects Georgia law?" Shouldn't that be written something like "the supporters that introduced the bill state this is to correct what they see as a loophole in Georgia law?" See how easy that was to be 'neutral?'

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whattheheck 1 year, 10 months ago

Nothing like a bunch of political hacks trying to bail out friends so the screwing of the public can be consummated. So Ed and the other hacks were anticipating this action and had introduced a remedy on Feb 6?

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ScubaGolfJim 1 year, 10 months ago

Really Albany Herald? You 'Vote' for a comment and you're taken away from that page to a "Thank you for your vote page" and not even returned to the original page? Need an IT guy?

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FryarTuk 1 year, 10 months ago

Old Taxem Ed is at again savaging the Southwest Georgia workers needing reasonable medical prices.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 10 months ago

Thanks be to Ed Rynders for stabbing SWGA in the back, neck, heart, abdomen and everywhere else hard working taxpayers have to get treatment. He is bought and paid for by the healthcare big money.

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Jacob 1 year, 10 months ago

They don't own him 100%. The used car lobby has a nice chunk, too. I will forgo all charity giving and save up to donate to this bought and paid for hack. What a line of BS to explain his actions. That took huge brass ones to get his mouth around those words.

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Effetecorpseofimpudentsnobs 1 year, 10 months ago

"and save up to donate to this bought and paid for hack." Are you saying what you want to say? Is this ignorance or a mistake?

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FryarTuk 1 year, 10 months ago

Snob, I think it's a mistake. Prolly just quick typing. I know he goads others but let 'im up easy.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 10 months ago

If you know anybody in Valdosta let them know Jason Shaw is doing the consumers in by participating in this scam. If you know any body in Camilla let them know Jay Powell is in it too.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 10 months ago

Ed Rynders is still trying to turn that garbage skow around out in the ocean. LOL

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Happy 1 year, 10 months ago

Somebody PLEASE run against Rynders! He does not represent his constituents. T-SPLOST, Phoebe, what is next? He is too concerned with special interests and his position of pecking order and leadership under the gold dome. He runs unopposed and is building a war chest for the time someone will run against him. Voters need to take him out of office and send him back to being a slum lord full-time.

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Jacob 1 year, 10 months ago

Hell, I'm about ready to vote for Aurthur K. if that means getting rid of this puppet.

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Trustbuster 1 year, 10 months ago

The term limitation bill should pass if you want to end their careers.

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Trustbuster 1 year, 10 months ago

The problem I have with the bill is that it will still permit govt. sanctioned monopolies. There is nothing wrong if one hospital wants to buy another one outside the county. But it should not be sanctioned by a governing board. The state action doctrine is a bogus cover for territorial aggrandizement by a politically powerful hospital. Lets do no harm!

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rightasrain 1 year, 10 months ago

Yep, Rynders is "on the take" from Phoebe, Insurance Companies, etc; except they call it "campaign contributions". Rynders could care less about the voter as long as he gets his. Vote him out in the next election.

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chinaberry25 1 year, 10 months ago

Some of these judges need to be run against in Lee Co. too. None are lawyers. So folks here is a job ready made for you. Most of the judges in Lee Co. are despised anyway.

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spookj6 1 year, 10 months ago

Ole Ed will get his, when he need Phoebe guarantee they won't be there when he need them. We all could'ves seen it coming.

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ilovealbany 1 year, 10 months ago

Ed - "anti-Washington" really. Your still giving power to a Government and taking it away from the people. I hope that is not to hard for you to understand. Attitudes like this from politicians is what makes people anti-Government! The bill you are proposing would give the Government authority to condemn and confiscate your personal property if they felt like a service of the Hospital was needed in that location. Stop bowing to the dollar bill and please start truly representing your constituents!

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Kenny36 1 year, 10 months ago

HOW MUCH IS PHOEBE PAYING RYNDERS ?

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FryarTuk 1 year, 10 months ago

Ole Capt. Eddie didn't let his shirt tail touch his arse before turning this skow around. Joel will give him a butt kicking he ain't never had before if he don't make it work. But wait til it gets to the Senate. Freddie Powell Simms will be doing cartwheels in her full length mink coat to get this one through. And then the 'lustrous guvner, if he's got any more loans out there on his retirement covering the family bankruptcies, oooh they gonna be paid. I wonder who will pay them. I bet you some Cayman bank has been put on notice. Good gracious aint democracy something.

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