Local hospital says it's being forced to turn away GA cancer pat - CBS46 News

Local hospital says it's being forced to turn away GA cancer patients

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Source: WGCL Source: WGCL

Imagine a local hospital being forced to turn away a cancer patient simply because they are from the state of Georgia. Cancer Treatment Centers of America says it's a reality. Officials with the organization say they are being forced to turn Georgia cancer patients away. 

Between July and October of 2016, the law forced them to deny access to 70 Georgians. The law, written in 2008, allowed Cancer Treatment Centers of America to come to Georgia, sidestepping the usual "certificate of need" process the state requires for most health care facilities. 

It was a compromise that was reached in the general assembly. The facility agreed only 35 percent of their patients would come from Georgia and they would only have 50 beds.

When busy mom Jennifer Thigpen found out she had aggressive breast cancer, she weighed her options and choose Cancer Treatments Centers of America. 

"My doctor just basically said 'I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry, It's cancer'," said Thigpen. "If I would have been turned away as a patient simply because I lived in the state of Georgia, I would have been devastated."

Andy Miller, CEO of Georgia Health News, has been following Cancer Treatment Centers of America's battle to change the patient restriction law for years. He says other hospitals want to stop CTCA from cherry picking top paying patients.  

"Choice and healthcare is relative," says Miller. "Most of us who have a work-based insurance plan can't go to every hospital. We can't go to every doctor. We are kind of limited in what our network tells us to do. The privately insured patients are what every hospital wants to have more of."

A spokesman for the Georgia Hospital Association told CBS46 quote: 

"Cancer Treatment Centers of America treats primarily only those patients who have commercial health insurance. Georgia's 58 other cancer hospitals provide leading-edge treatment services to all Georgia cancer patients regardless of health insurance status." 

Senate bill 123, if passed, would change the law. Cancer patients would not be restricted by their zip code. 

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