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MCG Health sees 'rocky' path

'Complex care' income may offset stalemate in government programs

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Facing an uncertain future with a "rocky" state revenue outlook, the company that runs Medical College of Georgia Hospital and Clinics is looking at a budget that sees little help from government programs and relies on strong growth in clinical services such as cardiovascular health and transplantation, officials said Wednesday.

Topic: Medical College of Georgia
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The health system is facing a new reorganization under incoming MCG President Ricardo Azziz and MCG Health Inc. Interim CEO Sandra I. McVicker said continuing greater cooperation is needed. Some MCG Health board members are also seeking greater oversight over capital spending by the health system.

The Executive Committee of the board met Wednesday to take a first look at the budget for next fiscal year, which begins July 1. The board will vote on a final revised budget at its June meeting. The budget for next year calls for a final margin of only 1.25 percent, or about $6 million, at the end of next fiscal year. And that's hoping the state budget doesn't take a turn for the worse, said Chief Financial Officer Dennis Roemer. "The state budget situation is just going to be a little bit rocky for a while," he said.

A slight increase in Medicaid funding will be mostly offset by a small cut in Medicare, which accounts for a lot of the health system's business, Roemer said. "So on 60 percent of our business we are going to get a whopping net $2 million payment increase," he said.

The health system will benefit from some increased payments from managed care contracts, and about $16 million is expected from increased revenue from particular clinical services.

The system is planning on 3 percent to 5 percent growth, particularly in "complex care," Roemer said, such as inpatient and outpatient cardiology and kidney and pancreas transplantation.

Some board members balked, however, on the more than $27 million in capital requests without greater information about the projects, such as how they would justify the investment and over what time period.

Board member and University System of Georgia Chancellor Erroll B. Davis Jr. said it was "sort of a 'trust me' approach. I am not sure that really meets a standard of oversight for a modern board in terms of governing." He said he would work with management on a modified approach.

The administration of the health system, the school, and Physicians Practice Group, which represents its doctors, have been working more closely for months to better coordinate efforts and that will certainly be needed going forward, McVicker said.

"It is going to take the physician group, the college, as well as us, all agreeing on the same things and the same initiatives that we all move forward together on," she said. "And I don't think I can emphasize that enough."

What's next

Unification of Medical College of Georgia, its health system and the physicians group might take another step forward today as attorneys for all sides gather on a conference call to try to come up with a timeline.

The University System of Georgia Board of Regents is reviewing plans to unite the three under a board chaired by incoming MCG President Ricardo Azziz. Attorneys will be looking over the governing documents with Regent Felton Jenkins, who is chairing the ad hoc committee, Chancellor Erroll B. Davis Jr., and Azziz.

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FedupwithAUG
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FedupwithAUG 05/20/10 - 01:55 am
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time to bail?

time to bail?

OnlyinAgs
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OnlyinAgs 05/20/10 - 06:51 am
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It will work, we wouldn't be

It will work, we wouldn't be in this situation had they left it like it was. MCGHI was a thorn and a waste of years.

ripjones
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ripjones 05/20/10 - 08:10 am
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What a crock. MCG gets an

What a crock. MCG gets an "exemption" from the "hospital tax" that the other hospitals will have to come up with. That works out to about 3 million dollars. Yes, I'd take a look at the 27 million dollars wanted for capital.

FedupwithAUG
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FedupwithAUG 05/20/10 - 09:41 am
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OnlyinAgs, "thorn and a waste

OnlyinAgs, "thorn and a waste of years"? It just so happens they were in the red, way in the red, for years before the Health system was created. Once the Health system was created they turned things around and now are profitable and in the black. Seems to me the School and PPG see all this money and want a lager piece of the pie, say the whole pie!

stillamazed
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stillamazed 05/20/10 - 09:41 am
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No surprise considering the

No surprise considering the salaries of the higher ups and their assistants that was reported on here last week, how about cutting some salaries.....some of them are making more than doctors make.

JustinCase
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JustinCase 05/20/10 - 10:25 am
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stillamazed, Really?

stillamazed, Really? Seriously, you are really going with that comment?
...BIG SIGH... Just an FYI - No MCG Health employee salary was in the article the AC ran and you referenced. Those were MCG (the State college) administrator salaries, not MCG Health (the hospital) salaries. Am I completely wasting my time repeating this, or did most of you not read the article?
Maybe this will help.
State colleges and universities: A state sponsored institution for the purpose of higher education created to educate and grant degrees; often a part of a university that educates students and/or pays football coaches larges sums of money for mediocre production.

Hospitals: a health facility or medical institution where sick or injured people are given medical or surgical care .

Maybe a quote from the movie Airplane will make it easier to understand.
Rucker: You'd better tell the Captain we've got to land as soon as we can. This woman has to be gotten to a hospital.
Elaine: A Hospital? What is it?
Rucker: It's a big building with patients, but that's not important right now.

WorriedAboutOurFuture
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WorriedAboutOurFuture 05/20/10 - 03:08 pm
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Nailed it exactly, FedUp.

Nailed it exactly, FedUp. Most Augustans haven't a clue about this. And you may well be on target about the pie as well, even though HI has been giving campus-side millions in profits year after year. I'm not sure the school is really up to running the hospital and clinics any more than it was 15 years ago.

And thank you, Justin. You'd think people could keep this straight, wouldn't you?

JustinCase
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JustinCase 05/20/10 - 04:32 pm
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Worried about our future, by

Worried about our future, by the way, so am I! Yes, I would think that they would understand this very simple difference.

What is astounding to me is that with all the STATE budget cuts for education, I have not seen one comment about the obsene amount of money paid to coaches. What is with that? There are kids who go to bed hungry and uneducated, but coaches are paid millions every year. Where is the outrage?

I read outrage because people who work for the State of Georgia are deemed over paid by the AC, but not one mention of the football coaches pay at UGA or GT. Seriously? Where is that article because I'd like to comment on it?

JustinCase
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JustinCase 05/20/10 - 04:34 pm
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*obscene - sorry!

*obscene - sorry!

WakeUpAugusta
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WakeUpAugusta 05/20/10 - 05:32 pm
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Without a Medical School

Without a Medical School there would be no MCGHI. The mission of a teaching hospital is tied to the mission of the Medical School - educating physicians and other health care providers. And those who think University Hospital would pick up to train the medical students and residents if there was no MCGHI are dreaming. Just ask your University hospital physician if he/she wants to invite medical students and residents into his/her office, supervise them, evaluate them and take time out of his/her practice (taking a hit to his/her income) and do all that the physicians, staff and yes administrators, have to do in a medical school/teaching hospital setting. There is a reason why medical schools are associated with teaching hospitals - so that they can work together to achieve a unified mission. Something that was lacking when MCGHI was a standalone. But it really boils down to one question - Does GA and this city want to support a top flight Medical University or not. Is health care, and educating future leaders for health care in this state as important as football? Finally, without MCG (the school) this city would not have the "medical community" that everyone loves to talk about as an economic driver. University, Trinity, Doctors are all here because there was a Medical School that spawned a "medical community", by training all the doctors that work in these other hospitals. Do you think that doctors graduate from Harvard, Emory, Vanderbuilt, Duke, etc. and say, "Gee I think I'll move to Augusta and start a practice." It may be that there is some fat at MCG, MCGHI and every other health care institution in this and every community. Just like there is fat in the govt and every for profit business as well. But to constantly color MCG, MCGHI and their management as overpaid and useless is simply ignorant. Maybe MCG should move to Athens.

DanK
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DanK 05/20/10 - 06:11 pm
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It's true that the hospital

It's true that the hospital was running a deficit for years before Health Inc was created as a separate operation run by Snell. He turned it around and made the hospital profitable. However, the entire focus of medical education and patient care has changed in recent years. The emphasis now is clinical translation science -- getting research knowledge to patient care as quickly as possible. Better integration of the medical schools and their teaching hospitals facilitates this, improving the quality of care and the quality of education. Incoming president Azziz has been very much involved in developing this approach at UCLA and brings a lot of feet-on-the-ground experience to this transition. It is also in this arena that NIH grants are flowing these days, so the ability of MCG to make this transition will not only affect patient care and education, but also improve the ability of MCG to get NIH grants. Is it simple to do? No. But necessary for MCG to grow and to beter serve the Augusta community.

FedupwithAUG
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FedupwithAUG 05/21/10 - 12:05 am
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I hope DR. Azziz has the

I hope DR. Azziz has the common sence and backgound information to understand that MCGHI is about saving $ and PPG is about spending $. All the PPG/MCG administrators should be worried about that article.

Weed
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Weed 05/21/10 - 02:40 pm
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Doctors have been saying it

Doctors have been saying it and now hospitals - health care will drive many hospitals to close their doors. Doctors will pool up in their area of expertise and have small clinic and out patient care. We are on the tip of the iceberg here and we will in 5 years see a total different health care than today.

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