Emory tallies victories

from 1997 legislative agenda

When all the wins, draws and losses are toted up, Emory fared well during the 1997 Georgia General Assembly, according to Kathy Fine, director of state government affairs. "We did great; we couldn't have had a better year," said Fine.

"We didn't lose anything in the budget and were able to help restore $946,847 in state funding for Grady's residency program," said Fine, who noted that the Georgia funds are matched by federal funds for a total of $1.6 million in funding for Grady. "But we don't want to have to fight for the residency capitation program every year," said Fine, who hopes an Emory health sciences administrator will be appointed to the new Governor's Commission on Graduate Medical Education that will examine the state's role in funding medical education.

Emory's interests fared well too in other budget issues such as the HOPE Scholarships, Emory-held state contracts, the Georgia Research Alliance and Medicaid. The 1998 budget increased the number of students eligible for the HOPE Scholarship program by cutting in half the number of college hours required to qualify-from 90 to 45 hours. An additional $6.2 million was budgeted to support the expanded HOPE program, and Fine estimates that $2.3 million will go to private colleges in Georgia.

Additionally, Emory received a $100,000 grant for a project that Delores P. Aldridge, Hamilton professor of sociology and African American studies, will direct to develop a Resource Guide to the Social and Economic History of Georgia Women.

In other funding issues that Emory supported, the Georgia Research Alliance received its full budget request and the Medicaid program will adopt a new reimbursement system that should work to Emory and Crawford Long hospital's advantage.

Before the 1997 legislative session, which ended March 28, Fine said if Emory maintained its state funding and the basic structure of Georgia's Certificate of Need (CON) law, a law that contains the overbuilding of hospitals and health care institutions, then she would be satisfied with her efforts during the Georgia legislative session. Although a bill was introduced to repeal CON, it died in the House, according to Fine.

"The best thing that Emory did this year was collaborate with organizations with similar interests to form coalitions," said Fine. Under the leadership of the Georgia Alliance for Community Hospitals (GACH), the state's nonprofit hospital community worked togther and defeated efforts to pass CON repeal. Additionally, GACH won a major victory with the passage of bellwether legislation requiring disclosure and notice by an entity seeking to takeover or merge with a nonprofit hospital.

The Office of Governmental and Community Affairs tracked nearly 150 pieces of legislation, in addition to the FY97 supplemental and FY98 budget negotiations, said Fine.

-Jan Gleason

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