AFP Goes After Phoebe

Americans for Prosperity is taking on what they call a healthcare monopoly down in Albany.

Apparently, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital has a monopoly on OB/GYN services and Palmyra Hospital wants to compete.

The press release is below the fold. As the sole provider of obstetrical health care in Albany for decades, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital has a monopoly on many of the areas most important medical services – like delivering babies. Unfortunately, the state government has rewarded Phoebe Putney with extraordinary protection from competition by barring other hospitals from providing obstetrical care.

But change and competition are now on the way here in Albany. Under long-needed reforms to the state’s Certificate of Need requirements, competitor hospitals like Palmyra Medical Centers are poised to end Phoebe’s control.

That’s good news to us at Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a grassroots, free-market group that believes Georgians are served by more choices, not less. As grassroots leaders, we encourage free-market policies because we believe the power to choose belongs to the citizens – to everyday people who decide where to buy gasoline and clothes and –yes – even where to give birth to their babies

The idea that only Phoebe is capable of providing OB/GYN services flies in the face of common sense. The truth is competition and choice force all providers to offer quality service. After all, health care is like any other business – you need to do a better job than the competitors, or your customers can go elsewhere. Monopolies like the one sustained by the state for Phoebe Putney stifle the ability for potential competitors to provide better quality services at lower costs.

You don’t need a degree in economics to understand the implications of Phoebe Putney’s insulation from competition. The results are obvious to the working families of Albany: artificially high health care costs and inferior quality of service. Without market accountability, Phoebe Putney can get away with providing overpriced services to expecting parents, who have no other place to turn. Giving parents in southwest Georgia a choice in healthcare will not only keep the price of care down, but also empower Georgians to be better informed about their choices.

Nothing could be more vital to our community than ensuring our families are given the highest possible quality of care. Competition, along with prudent regulation, is a vital tool in providing quality control. Albany parents need and deserve the benefits of choice and competition to ensure they are able to pick the doctors and hospitals they want to care for them and their babies.

Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital’s campaign to block competition and patient choice has hurt the Albany community. Free of competitive pressures, this hospital has profited without respect to the quality of the care it provides or the satisfaction of its patients.

When the state creates and maintains monopolies, Georgia’s taxpayers lose. We only hope that Palmyra’s can become a provider of obstetrics to our families and we’ll all benefit from some healthy competition.

5 comments

  1. Redcatcher says:

    Eric,
    I’m not sure monopoly is the correct term for Phoebe. Maybe mafia would be better. They have had the run of health care in that part of the state for a long time and are the main cause of the recent fight over the certificate of need issue. The legislature needs to just do away with the certificate of need.
    As another example of how the CON creates potential danger for our citizens take the recent approved application for Gwinnett Medical for open heart. Gwinnett County has over 850,000 residents and if you need open heart surgery you have to be transported to another hospital. The state recently granted a CON for Gwinnett to pursue open heart and what happens but Emory and Piedmont file an appeal. This could delay this care for Gwinnett citizens for two, three, maybe fours years.
    Just to be fair Gwinnett Medical has filed many appeals on other institutions trying to get in the county for years.

  2. Painterman says:

    Here in Metro Atlanta we have a lot of health care choices, when my wife was pregnant with our first child we were not happy with the original hospital group we went to, so we looked around and went to another, selected Douglas General Birthing Center and were very happy with them. We ended up having all 4 of our kids with them. I don’t know what we would have done if we were faced with no other options in where to have our kids. Why shouldn’t Albany have the same options? Their health care cost are among the highest in the Southeast. Georgia’s citizens in the Albany area deserve the same options that we have here in the metro area. That is a large enough population area to support it too.

  3. Bill Simon says:

    A “mafia” would be charging massive excess prices to support their other activities. Are the prices at Phoebe double and triple what they are at a hospital more than 200 miles away?

  4. Roy says:

    Bill:

    The answer is yes to your question about prices.
    I had an x ray test done at Phoebe last spring;cost, $500.00. Exact same test done at Piedmont 2 years back; $189.00.

    Proctor and Gamble has a large plant in Albany,
    it’s directors have complained Phoebe’s cost
    were excessive when compared to other area where they manufacture. Time magazine got ahold of this story maybe a year ago? It wasn’t too flattering towards Phoebe’s administration.

  5. Kenobe says:

    Check the 990 of Phoebe Putney Memorial hospital and Phoebe Putney Health Systems (available at http://www.guidestar.org). almost $300million in cash and securities sponged out of the local economy, overpaid employed physicians (1 getting $1.8 million see page 49 of 2006 health systems 990), CEO making almost 1 million/year plus perks. All derived from the operations of a county owned hospital that claims to be non-profit. Political influence, strong armed legal tactics, anti-competitive business practices. Don Corleone would be proud.

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