Georgia Watch’s Health Access Program submitted comments yesterday to both Emory Healthcare and WellStar Health System expressing deep concern about the potential Emory Healthcare and WellStar Health System merger. You can see the Press Release here. “Nationwide, hospital consolidation is leading to higher prices for consumers with little to no improvement in the quality of care individuals receive,” said Beth Stephens, Georgia Watch’s Health Access Program Director, in a letter to the healthcare systems.
Georgia Watch is concerned that this public comment process lacks transparency and meaningful engagement. The process for submitting public comments has not been widely published, and advocacy organizations with knowledge of how hospital decisions impact consumers, like Georgia Watch, have not been engaged. “We want to know what stakeholders are being engaged, and why consumer advocacy organizations are being left out of the conversation,” said Stephens.
The 45-day comment period appears to expire on March 26, 2015. However, Georgia Watch encourages consumers to share their concerns about the merger of the healthcare systems even after the comment period expires. “When mergers like this have the potential to impact so many consumers in the Atlanta market, it is important that consumers make their voices heard,” says Stephens.
Comments can be submitted to WellStar Health System at firstname.lastname@example.org and Emory Healthcare’s Patient Relations Department at email@example.com.