Jefferson Hospital officials meet with local legislators

Later this month Jefferson County citizens are expected to visit the polls to vote on a referendum regarding the future of its hospital. 
In the meantime, Jefferson Hospital’s leaders have been meeting with elected officials on the state and national level to discuss not just the referendum itself, but all it is doing to evolve its business to survive in the changing world of the American healthcare industry.
The hospital’s CEO Lou Semrad and Assistant Administrator Jessica Guy recently attended Hometown Health Day at the state capital where they met with local delegates Rep. Brian Prince, Rep. Mack Jackson and Sen. Jesse Stone. Hometown Health is similar to the Georgia Hospital Association but represents rural hospitals, like Jefferson, that have less than 50 beds.
“This is where rural hospitals throughout Georgia meet with legislatures to learn about healthcare related bills and legislation that are currently at the state level and the effect they will have on rural hospitals,” Guy said. “One topic that was discussed was the Rural Hospital Tax Credit bill introduced by State Rep. Geoff Duncan, a Cumming Republican.  This House bill would raise tax credit for donations to rural hospitals in Georgia from 70 percent to 90 percent for individuals and corporations.  Jefferson Hospital is partnering with Georgia Heart for this tax credit.” 
Semrad said he updated the local representatives on how the town hall meetings have been going leading up to the March 21 referendum. So far Semrad has spoken at seven official town hall meetings, but had numerous other meetings with local churches, pastor groups and business leaders and expects to have at least a dozen more before Election Day.
“We also  went over the four-part plan which involves expanding our lab services, the 340B drug program, extending Medicaid in the county and the revenue cycle audit program,” Semrad said. “This is how we are going to get the hospital profitable. My plan has always been to get the hospital to a position where, revenue wise, it doesn’t need the county funding to support indigent care.”
Just a few days after that meeting at the state capital, Semrad also met with the chiefs of staff for U.S. Rep. Jody Hice and U.S. Sen. David Perdue at the Louisville hospital.
“They reached out to me requesting an audience to talk about our plans and in a little more detail what is going on in Washington,” Semrad said. “I was able to voice my preferences for what I would want to stay in the Affordable Care Act or whatever it is that they are calling it. Primarily, I think, existing care for preexisting conditions. 
“Legislatviely there are some people interested in what we are doing here, locally sure, but also nationally and they are looking to Jefferson County with their eye on the future of rural healthcare.”
After the meeting Rep. Hice’s Deputy Chief of Staff Jessica Hayes said that the congressman has toured Jefferson Hospital on a couple of occasions and was impressed with what he saw there. 
“The facility is modern, fully furnished and serving the needs of its local workforce and residents,” Hayes said. “As the hospital continues to explore avenues for a viable path forward, our office stands ready to assist in any way possible.”