State Representative Kim Schofield (D-Atlanta), along with State Senator Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta) and Atlanta NAACP President Richard Rose, recently requested Attorney General Chris Carr to address issues regarding Wellstar Health System’s plan to take over Augusta University Health System (AUHS).
“Wellstar has not yet made amends for the damage it caused our communities when it closed its hospitals,” said Rep. Schofield. “We urge Attorney General Carr to ensure that Georgia’s interests with regard to the AUHS hospital and other facilities are rigorously protected.”
“All Georgians have a stake in what happens to AUHS because it is the primary teaching hospital for Medical College of Georgia,” said Sen. Orrock. “The hospital and clinics need to be operated by people whose organizational culture and practices demonstrate their trustworthiness for the mission of training professionals and providing high quality care rather than simply pursuing business opportunities.”
Rep. Schofield and Sen. Orrock request that Attorney General Carr consider potential legal and financial ramifications that may impact Wellstar’s agreement to AUHS. These legislators are concerned that Wellstar could owe increased taxes if the Internal Revenue Service acts on federal complaints regarding the system’s tax status. These legislators also believe a revocation of its charitable tax-exempt status could disqualify Wellstar from taking over AUHS based on current state law.
The Attorney General is required to review all transactions related to the acquisition or sale of assets of non-profit hospitals in Georgia. The Attorney General’s office is also required to hold a public hearing on this matter; information about this process can be found online here.
Earlier in this year, Democratic state legislators and the NAACP filed separate complaints with the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Civil Rights. The legislators and NAACP claim that Wellstar’s closures illegally discriminated against Black people and violated its tax-exempt status.
“Wellstar violated our trust when it chose in 2022 to abandon suddenly the largely minority communities formerly served by Atlanta Medical Center and Atlanta Medical Center South, even as it was undertaking to acquire AUHS, and with it, the opportunity to build a new hospital and doctors office complex in mostly white Columbia County,” said Rose. “Do we think Wellstar’s record here suggests the company is a dependable party to control an institution so important to the state?”
The filed complaints also cite the importance of Wellstar’s presence in Fulton County, especially for low income residents. Before its closure, Atlanta Medical Center served as one of only two Level I trauma centers in the city.
Rep. Schofield and Sen. Orrock’s districts include the closed medical centers, respectively.
Representative Kim Schofield represents the citizens of District 63, which includes portions of Fulton County. She was elected to the House of Representatives in 2017 and currently serves as the Secretary of the Urban Affairs Committee. She also serves on the Creative Arts & Entertainment, Health, Interstate Cooperation and Small Business Development committees.
Sen. Nan Orrock serves as the Democratic Caucus Secretary. She represents the 36th Senate District which includes portions of Fulton County. She may be reached at 404.463.8054 or by email at email@example.com.