September 7 , 1999
Volume 52, No. 3
Michael Johns outlines Emory's commitment to Grady
Emory is deeply committed to Grady Memorial Hospital. Since its beginning, the hospital has been an integral part of Emory's patient care, teaching and research missions--and an essential part of our social mission, our commitment to the city and state, and how we view ourselves.
This is a tough time for health care in general, but Grady faces an unusually complex combination of challenges and pressures. This article tries to convey in a very few words some of these pressures (many also affecting our own hospitals) and some of Emory's long-term support to Grady.
Georgians everywhere utilize the nationally recognized centers of excellence headed by Emory physicians at Grady-programs in trauma, burns, HIV and AIDS, neonatal and perinatal care, poison control, sickle cell, community mental health, tuberculosis, pediatric asthma, hazardous materials detoxification, teen pregnancy and new mother drug avoidance. They benefit from the research programs there. One in four Georgia physicians was trained at Grady, to the benefit of his/her patients. Perhaps most significantly, Atlanta's healthcare system would be thrown into disarray without Grady, and Georgians would face a deepening healthcare crisis. Grady provides a safety net for the area's neediest citizens--often its sickest ones--and enhances the public health of the entire community, helping control infectious diseases like tuberculosis.
Increased pressures facing Grady today
The BBA decreased Medicare payments made to all hospitals. But because Medicare funding helps underwrite physician education, the hospitals hardest hit by these cuts have been teaching hospitals, like Grady, which the same AJC editorial called "the incubators of medical advances that have made U.S. health care the envy of the world."
By the time the BBA runs its course through 2002, Grady is expected to have lost $55 million. (Emory Hospital and Crawford Long also see Medicare patients, and the BBA will cost them $47 million and $42 million, respectively, in lost revenues.)
Some of the ways Emory supports Grady
Ninety-eight of these 289 physicians are supplied by Emory at no cost to Grady or the counties. Emory, like Morehouse, also underwrites healthcare costs and salaries of other Emory physicians partially funded by Grady, doing so through charges collected from insurers of patients seen at Grady by Emory doctors and additional money from Emory's own resources. These costs for Emory, together with some improvements to programs and buildings at Grady, totaled more than $30 million in 1998. Together with $24 million in uncompensated care, that means Emory provided more than $55 million at Grady last year alone.
Residents also are largely "free" to Grady because the majority of their salaries are paid through federal and state funds for graduate medical education and from a variety of patient care grants. Grady also receives indirect medical education support from the Health Care Financing Administration as a teaching hospital. Without the resident physicians, roughly $20 million of underwriting of care at Grady would simply vanish, as would the patient care provided.
What you can do to help
First, write your senator or congressman to express concern about the BBA's deleterious effect on Grady and other teaching hospitals. Designed to reduce health care costs, the legislation is having an impact beyond what was foreseen. Several leaders in Washington are now rethinking it. Its current magnitude threatens medical education, care of poor people, quality of healthcare for everyone and research to improve the treatment and prevention of disease. E-mail addresses of Georgia's congressional delegation, Senate and House, are on Momentum Web at <www.emory. edu/WHSC/MOMENTUM> and are available to Emory users.
And second, when you see an Emory physician who works at Grady, say thank you.
Michael Johns is executive vice president for Health Affairs and CEO
of Emory Healthcare.