JA19 web - Page 29

Although we don’t “earn profits,” we are committed
to saving a portion of our revenue every year to buy new
equipment, build or renovate facilities and expand services. At WellStar, our overall goal is to “save” about 4 cents
on every dollar earned annually. In 2018, we used our savings to invest nearly $340 million in new equipment, facilities and information technology.
Beyond the community benefits and investments, it
isn’t widely known that non-for-profit hospitals pay taxes.
While we are exempt from paying many taxes in Georgia,
we do participate in the Medicaid Provider Fee program.
We also have sales and property tax implications for our
non-hospital healthcare services. For example, in 2018
WellStar paid nearly $37 million in provider fees and taxes.
JAMES How do you rate the 2019 General Assembly in
CON given that the program is designed to safeguard
against the unnecessary duplication of services that perpetuate the costs of health care services.
We committed countless hours to examining all
aspects of CON that could be modernized for greater efficiency while ensuring its preservation. Ultimately, we
came together as an industry to reach a compromise with
HB 186. However, we are satisfied that CON was not
severely jeopardized.
WellStar supported legislation enhancing access to
care and improving affordability such as Medicaid waivers,
telehealth, renewing the Hospital Medicaid Provider Fee,
and entered into additional interstate licensure compacts,
STEP therapy and other measures. It was a monumental
legislative session for healthcare, and we look forward to
working toward additional solutions in 2020.
for patients. I commend Governor Kemp for his courage in
bringing forth Senate Bill 106 this past session. This bill—
authored by Sen. Blake Tillery, R-Vidalia— authorizes the
Department of Community Health to submit a Section 1115
waiver request to the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services Centers for Medicare and Medicaid
Services. The legislation would also authorize the governor
to submit a Section 1332 innovation waiver proposal to the
U.S. Health and Human Services and the Treasury. Funding
for the 1332 waiver was appropriated in the Amended
Fiscal Year 2019 Budget and has been signed by the governor. WellStar treats more Medicaid patients than any other
provider in the state, so I would ask our elected leaders to
call on us as a resource— now and in the future— as the
specifics of the waiver begin to take shape so we can continue to serve this vulnerable population.
JAMES As you indicated, WellStar was a supporter of
JAMES How does WellStar handle Medicaid and indi-
Georgia pursuing federal Medicaid waivers and supported Gov. Brian Kemp’s effort to explore obtaining those
waivers. Elaborate how that will help the Georgia
patients that WellStar serves.
gent care patients?
terms of healthcare issues and reform?
SAUNDERS Going into the 2019 legislative session, we
knew healthcare would be a key topic with a specific
focus on the Certificate of Need (CON). For readers who
may be less familiar, Georgia requires healthcare organizations to file a CON application prior to undertaking certain capital investments, such as building new facilities,
buying equipment, or making renovations. Not-for-profit
health systems like WellStar are staunch supporters of
J U LY / A U G U S T 2 0 1 9
SAUNDERS In collaboration with other providers, WellStar
has helped lead with the Georgia Chamber of Commerce in
advocating for increased healthcare access and coverage
SAUNDERS As a not-for-profit community hospital, we
are 100 percent committed to ensuring that medical care
is available to every individual, regardless of his or her
ability to pay. WellStar is the largest Medicaid provider in
Georgia, and every patient in our system receives the
same high-quality, innovative and collaborative care. No
one should have to worry about whether they can access
care in their darkest hour. We are here for all our patients.
JAMES Finally, are there any other things that our readers may not know about WellStar?
SAUNDERS My colleagues are working hard every day to
create a healthier community for our neighbors at every age
and stage. WellStar physicians are enrolling patients in lifechanging clinical trials of new drugs and medical equipment. Our surgeons are developing less invasive procedures. Parents of fragile newborns can watch their babies
24/7 via livestream from our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
Our compassionate, expert team of 25,000 medical professionals make this possible. We could not do any of this
without them. That’s why we invest in programs to support the well-being and professional development of our
caregivers and team members, earning top honors from
Fortune and Working Mother magazines to name a few.
I began my career as a critical care nurse and understand how pivotal it is for medical professionals to feel
well-supported. At WellStar, we prioritize the physical,
professional, financial, and work-life well-being of all our
doctors and nurses. We support our WellStar medical professionals not only because we know it’s easier to care
when you feel cared for, but because— quite simply— it’s
the right thing to do.
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