Tag Archives: atlanta

AHCJ Atlanta panel discusses antibiotic resistance

The rise of deadly, drug-resistant superbugs is one of the world’s most pressing public health concerns. The dangerous development is driven by overuse and misuse of antibiotics in medicine and agriculture, resulting in a dramatic increase in people infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

By 2050, 10 million people globally could die from drug-resistant bugs, which could lead to a loss of productivity of $100 trillion. Continue reading

AHCJ fellows meet with Atlanta chapter

The Atlanta chapter of the Association of Health Care Journalists held a social gathering Dec. 10 at the Emory Conference Center Hotel, gathering with the 2013-14 Regional Health Journalism Fellows, who were in town for their visit to the CDC.

Twelve local health journalists and guests shared stories about the Affordable Care Act with fellows from states that, unlike Georgia, are running their own insurance exchanges and are expanding their Medicaid programs under the ACA. Continue reading

Atlanta chapter hears from CDC about global health efforts

Members of the Atlanta chapter of AHCJ heard a fascinating talk about the CDC’s global reach from Ron Ballard, associate director for laboratory science for the agency’s Center for Global Health.

Ballard, who has traveled extensively in coordinating international lab activities for the CDC, told about 20 journalists at a Sept. 10 meeting that the agency is working in dozens of  countries on activities ranging from disease detection and immunizations to programs fighting HIV/AIDS. Continue reading

Brawley speaks to Atlanta chapter of AHCJ

PHOTO BY LEN BRUZZESE, AHCJ Otis Brawley, M.D., chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, answers questions at Health Journalism 2012 earlier this year.

The Atlanta chapter of AHCJ met on Sept. 25 to hear Otis Brawley, M.D., speak on various health care topics.

WebMD’s Dan DeNoon introduced Brawley, an American Cancer Society executive and physician who earlier in the year addressed AHCJ’s annual conference in Atlanta.

Brawley spoke about cancer treatment, waste in medical spending – including in prescription drugs – and the health reform law in an hourlong talk to 15 to 20 chapter members.

He then fielded several questions from attendees, and stuck around for an informal chat with members afterward.

As always, Brawley was a dynamic speaker, stirring chapter members with compelling facts and insights about the health care system.

AHCJ’s Atlanta chapter will next meet on Dec. 3, when journalists will hear from the CDC’s John Jernigan, M.D., M.S. As the clinical team leader on the Multistate Meningitis Outbreak and director of the CDC’s Office of Health Associated Infections Prevention Research and Evaluation, he will talk about the agency’s response to the recent fungal meningitis outbreak.

Reporter digs into nonprofit hospital CEO pay

At The Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s M.B. Pell has assembled a look at CEO pay at local nonprofit hospitals. Pell hits hard at the top of the story, pointing out that top executives are pulling in ever-growing six- and seven-digit salaries in a time of cutbacks and job losses, and demonstrating that the state loses millions in tax revenue thanks to the hospitals’ exempt status.

It’s the sort of meaty accountability work that we expect to see on a tax filing-based story. Slightly more surprising? Pell endeavored to complete the picture with a healthy dose of perspective, reminding readers that in urban areas like Atlanta, even nonprofit hospitals are often complicated billion-dollar conglomerates. In Georgia, Pell writes, “hospitals report to 27 state and federal agencies and engage in multimillion-dollar building projects. The larger hospital systems have billions in revenue and are among the largest employers in their communities. Many also operate for-profit subsidiaries.” Those “billions” provide valuable context when discussing a $600,000 pay package.

Hospital executives and industry experts consider the examination of salaries a titillating issue for the public, but a subject lacking in substance.

Even if salaries were cut dramatically, the savings would not add significantly to hospitals’ charitable missions, Parker said.

Tax exempt hospitals in the metro area provided $932 million in charitable care in 2009, according to an analysis of financial survey data reported to the state by hospitals. The hospitals spent $61 million to pay officers, directors, trustees and key employees, tax forms show.

Of the uncompensated care, nearly a third, or $287.5 million, was provided by one hospital, Grady Memorial. Grady CEO Michael Young, who left the hospital in June, made $833,646 in 2009.

But for-profit hospitals in the Atlanta area pay taxes and they provided uncompensated care totaling $87 million in 2009, according to financial survey data.

For a counterpoint, Pell turned to a few outspoken patient advocates and a 2009 study conducted by University of Connecticut researchers. It’s another data point that demonstrates the depth of Pell’s research.

CEOs of nonprofit hospitals in Connecticut who increased the number of beds at their facilities by 10 percent typically got pay increases of just under 8 percent, shows a study of nonprofit hospitals by two professors at the University of Connecticut.

A 10 percent increase in the amount of charity care provided, however, typically resulted in a 1.5 percent decrease in the CEO’s pay, the study shows.

Pell’s story takes the national picture into account, but if you’re just looking to get up to speed on the national debate over nonprofit hospitals, charity care and tax exemption as it relates to executive pay, I recommend you scroll down to the final subhead: “Eyeing tax exemption.”