Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Insurers Lose Round in Senate

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Insurers Lose Round in Senate

Article excerpt

ATLANTA -- The Georgia Senate acted in near unanimity yesterday{

to outlaw so-called drive-up deliveries.

The measure passed by the Senate 54-1 would make insurers pay

for mothers to stay in the hospital at least two days for normal

deliveries and four days for a Caesarean section.

Supporters say the bill is aimed at combating insurers who force

mothers and their babies out of hospitals shortly after

delivery.

"Georgia can no longer ignore the trend of early discharges,"

said Sen. Nadine Thomas, D-Atlanta, a registered nurse who

sponsored the legislation. "The insurance companies are not

qualified to make those decisions."

However, Sen. Bob Guhl, R-Social Circle, the lone opponent of

the bill, warned that government-mandated hospital stays would

drive up health care costs.

"We're increasing costs and we're not protecting anybody," Guhl

said. "Don't tell me that if we save one child it's worth a

million dollars. We've heard enough of that. Private enterprise

knows how to deal with this situation better than a legislator."

The bill has been supported by doctors and opposed by some

insurers. A similar measure has been introduced in the House.

The mandates would apply to Medicaid patients, who account for

about 60 percent of deliveries in the state. Medicaid is the

state-federal health care program for the poor and disabled.

Insurers would also be required to pay for a follow-up medical

visit within 48 hours if the woman leaves the hospital early.

Thomas, vice chairwoman of the Senate Health and Human Services

Committee, said managed-care insurers are increasingly dictating

shorter and shorter hospital stays for mothers and newborns. In

some cases, she said, insurers only pay for mothers and infants

to remain in hospitals 12 hours after giving birth. …

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