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Bill from Grady gets attention of county
Residents received $410K in unpaid care
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Forsyth County News
Forsyth County has no plans to pay the nearly $410,000 bill it recently received from Grady Health System. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to.

“There is no obligation on the county’s part to pay this in full or any portion of it,” said Doug Derrer, interim county manager.

The bill combines the total spent on uncompensated treatment for many of the 278 county residents who received services in 2008 from the Atlanta hospital.

Grady provides uncompensated care to patients throughout the state and is the only Level I trauma center in the area.

More than 100 counties have received similar bills, including nearby Dawson ($211,000 for 35 patients) and Hall ($2 million for 177 patients).

Only Fulton and DeKalb counties currently hold contracts with the hospital.

Without a contract, Grady spokesman Matt Gove said, none of the counties are required to pay the bill.

“The point in sending the letter is to provide more information to the counties about the unpaid care that we provide to their citizens,” he said. “We have an immense burden at Grady, and while we’re certainly thankful for the support that Fulton and DeKalb counties give us, those other counties ... have some responsibility.”

Grady’s operating loss in 2008 was $140 million, which was only magnified by the estimated $250 million in uncompensated care for the year.

Just 64 of 278 patients from Forsyth County provided compensation for their treatment. Of those who didn’t pay, charges ranged from $7.70 to nearly $47,534.

If it was in the county’s best interest to make payment or sign a contract for future services, the county commission would need to provide approval.

But Derrer said there is no commitment from the county at this point, though the issue is under review.

In terms of unpaid care delivered by Grady, Forsyth ranked 20th in the state. The top three counties — Clayton, Gwinnett and Cobb — were each billed for more than $10 million, Gove said.

“It would not be a surprise to anyone to know that given the economy and the growing joblessness that the number of uninsured and indigent patients is growing for us,” he said.

“So anything that the county or the state is willing to do to help us provide that care to these citizens, it would be appreciated.”

E-mail Jennifer Sami at