Frequently Asked Questions

What is Speak Now Georgia?

We are a patient-led grassroots movement created to draw attention to and action toward reforming state restrictions on patient options for cancer care. These limitations on who can get treatment and where stifle patient choice and burden Georgians fighting for their lives.

What tools are available on SpeakNowGeorgia.org?

Our site is a one-stop resource for advocates, supporters and those interested in learning about the outdated laws that require a Destination Cancer Hospital to turn patients away simply because they reside in Georgia. Most importantly, they include easy ways for friends, family and loved ones to get involved and help us in our fight to restore choice for Georgia’s cancer patients by revising those restrictions placed on a Destination Cancer Hospital within Georgia’s Certificate of Need laws.

How can I get involved?

Speak Now! Join the Speak Now Georgia Advocacy Network where you can locate and contact your state legislator, follow us on Facebook and Twitter or read the latest news on our grassroots movement to fix specific statutes within the state’s Certificate of Need cancer care laws that restrict patient choice in Georgia.

Who is behind Speak Now Georgia?

Speak Now Georgia is a coalition of cancer survivors, patients, affected families and Georgia’s only Destination Cancer Hospital, Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

What is a Destination Cancer Hospital?

A Destination Cancer Hospital is a hospital that offers diagnostics, therapeutic treatment and rehabilitative care to cancer patients.

What are Certificate of Need (CON) laws?

The Certificate of Need (CON) program in Georgia, which is administered by the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH) and Office of Health Planning Department, was created under Georgia’s Health Planning Statute (O.C.G.A. Title 31, Chapter 6). These laws determine if a new or expanded health care service or facility is needed in Georgia and were intended to help control health care costs.

What is wrong with the current laws?

Major reforms to Georgia’s Health Planning Statute (O.C.G.A. Title 31, Chapter 6) were enacted during the 2008 Georgia Legislative Session with the passage of Senate Bill 433 (SB433), which resulted in many new exceptions, expenditure thresholds and expanded reporting requirements. As part of SB433, Certificate of Need laws stipulated that a Destination Cancer Hospital is required to cap its in-state patient base at no more than 35% of its total patient base while also limiting it to just 50 inpatient beds.

What’s wrong with restricting patient choice?

In America, people have the right to choose where they seek medical care and to select health care facilities they trust the most. Stipulations within the Certificate of Need laws that limit a Destination Cancer Hospital, contradict that right and should be changed to give Georgians access to quality cancer care at the facility of their choosing close to home.

Why revise or change the restrictions put on a Destination Cancer Hospital within Georgia’s Certificate of Need laws?

Georgia residents deserve a health care system committed to working with them, not one that gives them fewer options. Imagine if a local restaurant were restricted as to how many Georgia residents it could serve. It is absurd.

Where did these laws come from?

Originally written in the 1970s, Georgia’s Certificate of Need laws are complex and were designed to control health care costs in the state. However, in 2008 when the state legislature modified this dense set of laws to include restrictions on the patient base of a Destination Cancer Hospital, they didn't foresee the unintended consequences for Georgians seeking cancer care.

How can the restrictions put on a Destination Cancer Hospital within the laws be changed?

In the January 2017 legislative session, Georgia lawmakers have the opportunity to revise the restrictions put on a Destination Cancer Hospital within these laws and put the decision-making power back into the hands of the patients who need it most. No one chooses to get cancer. However, everyone should have a choice in where they receive cancer care.

Has something changed since these Certificate of Need law statutes (which restrict a Destination Cancer Hospital) were enacted?

Yes. Nearly nine years ago, legislators had no way of predicting the exponential rise in demand for new cancer treatment options.

Who wrote Georgia’s Certificate of Need laws?

There were many interests involved in crafting the various pieces of the laws. The specific statutes that restrict a Destination Cancer Hospital to a 35% in-state patient limit were introduced within a much larger ‘omnibus’ style bill that included many complex pieces. The unintended consequences of those specific statutes within the Certificate of Need laws weren’t fully realized until much later.

Is this a partisan issue?

No. Most legislators on both sides of the aisle are well-intentioned people, but the restrictions put on a Destination Cancer Hospital within the Certificate of Need laws ultimately deny people care and must be revised immediately. Cancer doesn't wait, neither should Georgia.

Why now?

Restricting patient choice is no longer an option for Georgia. Corrective action must be taken immediately by legislators to fix the unintended consequences of these restrictions put on a Destination Cancer Hospital within Georgia’s Certificate of Need laws.

Why not wait and see if trends reverse?

In 2016, an estimated 48,670 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in Georgia, according to the American Cancer Society. It is absurd that Destination Cancer Hospitals like the one in Newnan are forced to turn patients away simply because they reside in Georgia. With each passing day, more Georgians are denied the right to access quality cancer care at the facility of their choosing. To turn away one patient is one too many!

How long does the legislative process take?

Revising those restrictions put on a Destination Cancer Hospital within Georgia’s Certificate of Need laws must take place while the state legislature is in session for just a few short months beginning in January. The time to act is now.

What stands in the way of changing these Destination Cancer Hospital restrictions within Georgia's Certificate of Need laws?

Special interests and legions of lobbyists who are eager to protect the status quo.

Speak Now. Start Here.