Hospital Denies Access to Records

Are sunshine laws relevant to everyday life? Does access to records under sunshine laws matter?

Northside Hospital was asked for and denied access to records after patient bills went up after the acquisition of a couple of practice groups.  In this case, patients’ wallets are directly effected.  Further questions arose when the AJC was compiling research for a piece related to nonprofit hospitals’ CEO executive compensation.

This week, in the Georgia Court of Appeals, the hospital is arguing that its records and activities are private matters and not public.  The hospital’s stance is contingent upon the Hospital Authority of Fulton County leasing the hospital facility to a nonprofit that was created by the Authority for the purpose of operating the hospital.

Many hospitals and healthcare facilities throughout the state of Georgia now operate under this structure: a non profit is formed with the purpose of operation and then the facilities are leased to the non profit.  David Hudson refers to this as “spinning off a private entity and transferring its assets, duties and public functions to that entity.”

David Hudson argued for transparency in an amicus brief filed in the appeal: “Without the access afforded by the Open Records Act, the public that these entities are supposed to serve is left in the dark. Are they in business to provide quality and affordable healthcare to the public, as the law requires, or are they incentivized simply to maximize revenue? Should not the public have the right to know when it is the public’s assets — and its health — at stake?”

David argues, “it cannot and should not be possible for a government agency to insulate itself from public scrutiny.”

Read the full article published by AJC HERE.

access to records

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