What is Georgia Senate Bill 459?
Senate Bill 459 (SB459), introduced by Sen. Matt Brass (District 28), proposes removal of barriers that Georgia cancer patients currently face when they seek treatment at the state’s only cancer destination hospital, Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA).
Specifically, those barriers are:
- Limiting the hospital’s in-state patient base to just 35 percent of its total patient base
- Limiting the hospital to only 50 inpatient beds
Importantly, Senate Bill 459 also creates new opportunities to help support Georgia’s rural hospitals and rural healthcare development.
What happens now that SB459 has been introduced?
Even though this bill has been introduced, our fight has just begun! We encourage everyone to contact their legislators and urge them to vote YES for SB459 to ensure this proposed legislation becomes a law.
What is Speak Now Georgia?
We are a patient-led grassroots movement created to draw attention and action toward reforming state restrictions on patient options for cancer care. These limitations stifle patient choice and burden Georgians who are fighting for their lives.
How can I get involved?
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Our site is a one-stop resource for advocates, supporters and those interested in learning about the outdated laws that require a Destination Cancer Hospital to turn patients away simply because they reside in Georgia.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, our site includes easy ways for friends, family and loved ones to get informed and get involved in the process of repealing these outdated laws.
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?
These laws determine if a new or expanded health care service or facility is needed in Georgia and were formed to help control health care costs.
The CON program in Georgia, which is administered by the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH) and the Office of Health Planning Department, was created under Georgia’s Health Planning Statute (O.C.G.A. Title 31, Chapter 6).
What is wrong with the current laws?
CON laws stipulate that a Destination Cancer Hospital is required to cap its in-state patient base at no more than 35 percent of its total patient base, while also limiting it to just 50 inpatient beds.
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 the unfair restrictions you see above.
Why revise or change the restrictions put on a Destination Cancer Hospital within Georgia’s CON laws?
Georgia residents deserve a health care system committed to working with them and for 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 CON 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 2018 legislative session, Georgia lawmakers will 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.
Has something changed since these CON 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 CON 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 percent 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 CON 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 CON laws ultimately deny people care and must be revised immediately. Cancer doesn’t wait; neither should Georgia.
Why not wait and see if trends reverse?
In 2017, an estimated 48,850 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in Georgia, according to the American Cancer Society. It is absurd that a Destination Cancer Hospital like the one in Newnan is 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 his or her 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 CON 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 CON laws?
Special interests and legions of lobbyists who are eager to protect the status quo.