- Associated Press - Thursday, November 12, 2015

ATLANTA (AP) - A national cancer treatment chain seeking permission to treat more Georgia patients was stopped short Thursday after facing staunch opposition from the state’s influential hospital association.

Cancer Treatment Centers of America wanted permission from Georgia’s Department of Community Health to apply for a new certificate as a general hospital. The Florida-based chain is known for its ads describing access to medical care along with spiritual support and alternative remedies in the four states where its hospitals operate.

Department Commissioner Clyde Reese called reaction to the proposal “overwhelmingly negative,” and withdrew it. Reese said his agency was not the “proper venue” to make the change.

The change would have allowed Cancer Treatment Centers’ Newnan facility to treat more Georgia patients.

CTCA won lawmakers’ permission to open a hospital in 2008, without having to prove Georgia needed its services as traditional hospitals must do. It was designated a “destination” cancer hospital, obliged to draw patients from across the nation, and no more than 35 percent from Georgia. It also pledged in 2008 that it would abide by a 50-bed cap.

Proposals to change those restrictions went nowhere during the last legislative session, and influential lawmakers criticized the company’s appeal to state health officials as a subversion of the General Assembly’s powers. Officials and lobbyists for the Georgia Hospital Association and large health care providers warned that Cancer Treatment Centers would “cherry-pick” patients with insurance, undermining local providers that treat insured and uninsured patients.

David Kent, chief operative officer of Cancer Treatment Centers’ facility in Georgia, blamed the political influence of the state’s hospital industry for the proposal’s failure. He said the company will continue to operate as allowed and hasn’t decided whether to ask again for legislative changes.

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