Fulton approves new subsidy for Grady

Fast facts on Grady Memorial Hospital

Fast facts on Grady Memorial Hospital

Fulton County commissioners unanimously approved a new contract Wednesday to subsidize Grady Memorial Hospital with $43.3 million for at least six years.

The four-way contract between Fulton, DeKalb County, the Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority and Grady Memorial Hospital Corp. replaces an agreement that expires at the end of this year. Negotiations have gone on for months and DeKalb County is expected to vote on its part of the agreement soon.

A key part of the new contract commits all parties to lobby the state to expand Medicare coverage to all households below 138% of the federal poverty line. If Medicaid expansion passes, the county would no longer subsidize Grady.

The deal starts funding Grady at $43.3 million, but that would increase annually with the cost of medical care under the Consumer Price Index. It has two automatic annual renewal options. The county will also pay debt service on Grady’s new surgical center, which opened in 2022.

Grady makes medical care available to all Fulton and DeKalb residents, serving the uninsured, underinsured and indigent regardless of ability to pay. The hospital in downtown Atlanta provides emergency and indigent care for thousands of people in Fulton County, and its burden grew heavier last year with the closure by Wellstar Health System of the only two hospitals in south Fulton County.

The new contract commits Grady to opening two new neighborhood health centers in Fulton County and three in DeKalb, plus “mobile health services” for areas in need.

County Manager Dick Anderson said he thinks those clinics will be the “foundation” of local health services for years to come.

A new provision is a requirement for Grady to report health outcomes to its county partners, said Pamela Roshell, county chief operating officer for Health, Human Services & Public Works. That will allow agencies to see where they need to focus services, she said.

Anderson has said that Fulton County has previously funded Grady with at least $60 million a year, and the hospital sought an additional $15 million in recent negotiations. DeKalb also funds the hospital but not nearly as much as Fulton does, he said.

That added up to almost $3 billion in Fulton County funding to the hospital over the last 50 years, but Grady is a vital part of meeting the county’s requirement to provide health care, Anderson has said.