He encouraged a hospital representative to “lead the charge” on Medicaid waivers and block grants (an idea that would likely decrease federal Medicaid funding to states): “We need somebody to grab that mantle and do that.”
Watson’s committee is dedicated to examining the state’s Certificate of Need process, or CON. CON is a state regulation that is meant to prevent private companies from poaching the few profitable medical services that hospitals do, and thus leaving the hospitals with the money losers such as emergency room and neonatal care.
Profit-making medical providers — and Watson is part of one such partnership — say CON stifles entrepreneurship and patient options.
Watson’s proposal would eliminate CON for mental health services and roll it back in several other ways, including easing approval for some cardiac procedures and facility expansions.
Ethan James, a lobbyist for the Georgia Hospital Association, attempted to make the case that such a proposal could not be discussed without talking about how hospitals already lose money by providing uncompensated care. Watson disagreed.
He noted the Senate could have gone further on CON.
The House has its own proposal, which would simply lift CON in the metro Atlanta region.
“I never really thought that the Senate would be the moderate one in the room,” Watson half-joked to James. “Maybe that’s something we’ll have to embrace in the future.”
Stay on top of what’s happening in Georgia government and politics at ajc.com/politics.