Davis resigns state hospital association board seat over licensing issue

University Hospital CEO Jim Davis was to become chairman of the Georgia Hospital Association next year but after some other hospital executives objected to his stance opposing the state’s health care licensing law, he chose to resign from the board.

 

Davis raised eyebrows in February when he spoke out about the state’s Certificate of Need laws, which require hospitals to get a state license before adding beds, building a new facility or adding expensive equipment. That law is preventing University from building a hospital in Columbia County while awarding that particular license to a competitor, AU Medical Center, though that license is under a court challenge.

Davis told the University board that when the state awarded AUMC and denied competing proposals from University and Doctors Hospital, it created “a regulated monopoly, which is what the CON gives them, to one of the richest and fastest-growing counties in our market.” In his email last week when he resigned, Davis said Columbia County “is an almost 100% insured county that University and Doctors Hospitals depend on to offset the poorer payers in the rest of the market. The state-owned AU Medical Center was chosen as the winner based upon a process that was shaky if not shady at best.”

After its initial appeal of the decision was denied, University chose not to keep appealing the decision. But Doctors is pursuing it in the court system and the case was recently sent back from the Georgia Court of Appeals to the Superior Court of Fulton County at Doctors’ request to add documents not previously transmitted to the appeals court before it will go back there again for a decision.

Two months after his initial remarks, Davis said he received a phone call while visiting his “very ill parents” in Ohio, the upshot of which was that some members were “not comfortable with me being chairman next year due to my opinions on CON,” Davis said in a statement. “I then decided to resign to eliminate the issue and their concerns.”

He had just discussed the issue with GHA leadership at a retreat and “it was clear that the group wants CON to remain untouched. I heard that and accepted that,” he said in his resignation email and had planned to remain silent, before hearing about the concerns of other members and deciding to resign from the board altogether.

GHA President Earl Rogers said in a statement, “While we respect his decision and recognize that we have a difference of opinion on this policy issue, we will focus on the many issues that unite our industry as we continue to support University Health Care System as a member of GHA.”

Davis also reiterated his support for the hospital group overall.

”We wish GHA all the best as University Hospital will continue to be counted as one of its member organizations,” he said in a statement.

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or tom.corwin@augustachronicle.com

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