Georgia's Hospitals Could See Billion Dollar Changes

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-- Valdosta, Ga. -- July 9, 2012 --

Along with upholding the health care overhaul, the supreme court has also given states the choice to expand their medicaid programs. The question is who's going to pay for it.

Currently one in 3 georgia Hospitals lose money. President Obama's health care act gives states the right to chose to expand medicaid. But who will will foot the bill?

South Georgia Medical Center's Chief Financial Officer, Greg Hembree, said "the first three years the expansion is 100% financed by the federal government. And then after, for the next seven years, I believe they pay I think it's 90% of the cost. But in Georgia I understand that 90% in years four through ten is nearly $5 billion dollars."

Those billions could potentially come out of an increase in Georgia's state income tax. By some estimates as much as 20% increase. As for where the money that the federal government would put up.. Hembree says a lot of it is coming from medicare cuts the hospitals have already made.

Hembree went on to say "from a hospital perspective, it is a good thing that we're going to get some of the money back that we've already given back to the federal government."

This isn't the only potential shakeup in the medical world. Many of Georgia's doctors are endorsing a plan to replace the current medical malpractice system. The goal is to create a patients compensation board that would dole out money... which would replace malpractice lawsuits.

James Davis is a physical therapist in Valdosta. He said "malpractice is very expensive for doctors, so you know from a doctors perspective I'm sure they want the best methods possible to alleviate these kinds of problems."

Patients for Fair Compensation estimates roughly $650 billion dollars is spent annually in the US on unnecessary tests and procedures that doctors do to keep from being sued.

As for the medicaid expansion in Georgia-- Governor Deal has said he will wait till after the presidential elections to make any decisions.