Archive for December, 2015

Georgia Academy Joins the Chamber of Commerce In A Healthcare Access Study

The Georgia Chamber launched a task force to take an in-depth exploration on ways to improve healthcare access throughout Georgia. This study will pursue sustainable and fiscally responsible recommendations to address challenges that include, the viability of rural healthcare providers and safety net hospitals, recruitment and retention of medical professionals, and the coverage gap that leaves close to 400,000 Georgians uninsured and hundreds of thousands more underinsured.

The Georgia Academy of Family Physicians is joining the Chamber’s initiative and Dr. Rick Wherry (Past GAFP President and current GAFP Legislative Co-Chair) will serve as the GAFP’s representative.

“Access to high-quality healthcare ranks high on the priority list of our business community because it matters to our employees. We know that we can’t have an economically viable Georgia unless we have a physically healthy Georgia,” said Chamber President and CEO Chris Clark. “The coverage gap doesn’t just affect the uninsured and the providers who care for them. It shifts cost directly to employers who insure their workforce, and it poses an existential threat to rural healthcare access as well as the stability of critical safety net hospitals.”

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce Health and Wellness Committee will oversee the study and any policy recommendations that result. Over the next nine months, the study will execute three phases:

  • Economic impact, data collection and analysis
  • Policy option development
  • Finalize recommendations

“We’re looking for unique, Georgia-based ideas that provide a comprehensive approach to delivering healthcare services to our citizens,” said Tim Lowe, chairman of the Chamber’s Health and Wellness Policy Committee. “Finding ways to cover the uninsured represents a big piece of the puzzle, but we’re going to look at many ways of bolstering our entire healthcare system. At the same time, we have no interest in an unaffordable wish list that fails to meet the unique needs of Georgians. State government has to balance its budget. We need a pathway that is workable and affordable not just in the short term but also in the long term. That’s what this study is about.”

In recent years, five hospitals in Georgia have closed, with many more struggling financially.

“Having health insurance in a community without a hospital nearby does you no good in a medical emergency,” said Clark. “If you lose the only hospital in an area, you also lose any chance you have of landing a major economic development prospect. Put simply, we face a crisis that affects every Georgian, whether they have insurance or not.”

2016 Committee Chair Appointments

The new GAFP President, Dr. Mitzi Rubin, has been hard at work on committee appointments for next year.  She has appointed all Committee Chairs, Vice Chairs and Co-Chairs and they are listed here:


Chair – Alice House MD – Columbus

Education & Research                                                  

Chair – Susana Alfonso MD – Tucker

Vice Chair – Gurinder Doad MD – Albany

Finance Committee                                                       

Chair – Jeff Stone MD – Dallas

Vice Chair – Sharon Rabinovitz MD – Atlanta

Legislative Committee                                                 

Co-Chair – Bruce LeClair MD – Evans

Co-Chair – Rick Wherry  MD – Dahlonega

Membership Committee                                                            

Co-Chair – James Hagler MD – Buena Vista

Co-Chair – Tom Fausett MD – Adel

Vice Chair – Ivy Smith, MD – Newnan

PAC Board                                                          

Chair – Wayne Hoffman MD – Atlanta

Vice Chair – James Lemley MD – Thomson

Practice Management                                                  

Chair – W. Steven Wilson MD – Warner Robins

Vice Chair – Michael Satchell MD – Albany

Public Health                                                   

Chair – David Westfall MD – Gainesville

Vice Chair – Sherma Peter MD – Sylvania

Student and Resident                                                   

Chair Julie Dahl-Smith DO – Augusta

Vice Chair – Kevin Johnson MD – Lawrenceville


Congratulations to these leaders!

The GAFP thanks the leaders who are willing to devote time to advance family medicine in Georgia.  GAFP Committee appointments are currently underway, however, there is still availability to serve in 2016.  If you are interested in joining a committee, please contact Alesa McArthur, Chief Operating Officer – Phone:  800.392.3841 and email:

The first Committee Conclave of the year is the weekend of March 5-6, 2016 at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, GA.

GHFA Corporate Trustee Spotlight: Brian Bibb- CircleLink Health

Characteristics of a Successful Chronic Care Management Program


An estimated 35 million Medicare patients are eligible to participate in the new Chronic Care Management (CCM) program. To date, only about 150,000 have enrolled. Why?

Justified skepticism of any “new” Medicare program by physicians, disruptions to practices, difficulties implementing and running a successful program, record-keeping requirements, compliance, expense of time, money, and staff resources, and low to zero return on investment are some of the many reasons cited by practices when asked about their concerns with CCM.

Most practices are in one of two camps in regards to CCM. One, they are interested in implementing a program but are waiting to hear success stories from other colleagues, or two, they have implemented a program and are finding it difficult to run and are probably only billing around 20% of the patients they have enrolled. Hardly worth it!

What makes this issue more frustrating or confusing to many is the constant chatter from vendors in the CCM marketplace stating how easy this is for physicians to implement and bring in significant new revenue to their practice (While not mentioning how this may benefit the patient or provide better patient outcomes).

I will agree and state that much of the claims surrounding this program are simply just “sales pitches”. However, having said that, there are many practices running very successful programs and their patients are benefitting greatly. My goal in writing this article is to hopefully cut through the confusion out there and provide some valuable information on what a successful CCM program looks like and give you something to compare to if you are thinking of implementing a CCM program or already have and are not very satisfied with the results.

Characteristics of a Successful CCM Program –


•   Little to zero time is required of staff and physicians to run program.

•   No disruptions to daily routines of practices.

•   Zero investment to implement program.

•   Zero compliance concerns. Written guarantees provided that all reporting will pass any CMS audit and ALL required reporting is automatically done for you.

•   Program provides a healthy revenue stream to practice. $175,000 or more in NET annual revenue per 1000 Medicare patients should be realized.

•   Data confirms that costs within system are going down.

•   Vendor offers options that provide additional patient benefits and practice revenue, such as, leveraging the Annual Wellness Visit to achieve greater results.

As stated before, it is possible to implement a successful CCM program and running it can be done without disruptions and difficulties. When designed properly the goals of Medicare can be met, the rewards for the practice can be great, and most importantly, chronic patients can enjoy better health!

Brian Bibb is the representative to GAFP for CircleLink Health and was the Draw Down Presenting Sponsor at this year’s Scientific Assembly in Atlanta. For questions or more information you can contact Brian by phone at (904)-477-8456 or by email at

GAFP Members Recognized at Annual Meeting in November for 2015 Contributions to Family Medicine

At the GAFP Annual Scientific Assembly in early November at the Westin Buckhead, several individuals were awarded the GAFP top honors for 2015.

Dr. Foloshade Omole (left) accepting her award from Dr. George Shannon (right)

Two awards were given out at the George Shannon Leadership Series lecture luncheon on Saturday, November 7 by Dr. Shannon himself.  Folashade Omole, MD of Marietta was the winner of the 2015 GAFP Family Physician of the Year Award.  Dr. Omole, currently a Professor, Series 1 at Morehouse School of Medicine, practices the full scope of Family Medicine including prenatal and delivery care through care of the elderly.  In addition, Dr. Omole has been a member of the GAFP since 2000 and most recently served on the Board of Directors as Treasurer from 2012 through 2014.

Dr.George Shannon (left) presenting Dr. Fred Girton (right) with the GAFP Family Medicine Educator of the Year Award.

Fred Girton MD, of St. Simons Island, GA was the winner of the GAFP Family Medicine Educator of the Year Award.  A GAFP member for 38 years, Dr. Girton served as GAFP President from 2001-2002 and also served on the GAFP Board of Directors for much of this time.  Recently retired from Mercer University’s School of Medicine, Dr. Girton most recently served as Professor and Chair of the Family Medicine Department at Mercer University.


Dr. Rick Wherry (left) and Dr. Bruce LeClair (middle) with outgoing President Dr. Wayne Hoffman (right)

Drs. Bruce LeClair of Evans and Rick Wherry of Dahlonega jointly received a President’s Award from outgoing President Dr. Wayne Hoffman for the work they did this past year during the Legislative Session and their years of advocacy for Georgia’s family physicians and our patients.

Dr. Hoffman also gave a President’s Award to his partner, Tom Torrey, for his support this year during his presidential term at the Executive Committee dinner on Thursday evening.

Finally, during the Friday night Welcome Reception, two residents received their awards as well.

Dr. Phil Carter (left) accepting his award from Dr. Leonard Reeves (right). 


Dr. Leonard Reeves (left) presenting Dr. Jason Varghese (right) with his award.

Phil Carter, MD from the Floyd Family Medicine Residency Program was the Resident of the Year, and Jason Varghese, MD was the winner of the 2015 Keith Ellis Award as an outstanding Chief Resident.

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