State regulators approve hospital transparency rules

    Health care workers at Macon's Navicent Medical Center are struggling to cope with a surge of COVID-19 patients. John McCosh/Georgia Recorder

    A new slate of transparency rules for Georgia’s nonprofit hospitals is set to take effect next month after a regulatory board signed off on the rules in spite of objections from hospitals.

    The requirements come out of a new law that legislators passed this year that presses hospitals that enjoy tax-exempt status to publicly post online detailed financial reports and information. If they fail to do so, they risk losing state funding.

    Under the law, nonprofit hospitals must post their top salaries, a list of real estate holdings and other revealing financial records.

    The new requirements drew criticism from the hospital industry, which objected to what it called vague wording that they argued left some of the new rules open to interpretation and added strain on small hospital staffs.

    Navicent Health also asked for this line to be stripped from the rules: “This information is provided with the intent to give health care consumers the tools to make an informed decision in selecting a hospital.”

    “In our experience, health care consumers are not regularly accessing the posted information under (the new law) to inform their decisions in selecting a hospital,” Julie Windom, the hospital’s vice president of governmental affairs, wrote in a letter to the board.

    DCH staff attorney Rachel King countered that “this reporting will be one of the many tools used by consumers in the health care decision making process” and argued for keeping the language, which the board did.

    Jill Nolin
    Jill Nolin has spent nearly 15 years reporting on state and local government in four states, focusing on policy and political stories and tracking public spending. She has spent the last five years chasing stories in the halls of Georgia’s Gold Dome, earning recognition for her work showing the impact of rising opioid addiction on the state’s rural communities. She is a graduate of Troy University.