Published Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Compensation system came from Gingrich think tank

By WALTER C. JONES and MATT DIXON

MORRIS NEWS SERVICE

ATLANTA  — The so-called patient’s-compensation system being proposed would be similar to the century’s old worker’s compensation system in use in Florida, Georgia and every state.

The idea came out of the Center for Health Transformation, a part of the Gingrich Group founded by one-time U.S. House Speaker, Georgia congressman and 2012 presidential candidate Newt Gingrich. The Center also developed ideas that became integral to the federal health reform law known as ObamaCare, such as requiring everyone earning more than $50,000 to either buy insurance or a bond and the use of centralized, electronic medical records.

Gingrich set up the Atlanta-based Center in 2003 and attracted funding from some of the biggest national pharmacy and insurance companies as well as major employers seeking ways to save on health insurance. However, when he withdrew active involvement to run for the Republican presidential nomination, funding dried up and the Center filed for bankruptcy protection.

Despite its financial troubles, the outfit has gained mainstream acceptance for many of its proposals from politicians on both ends of the political spectrum as well as executives of healthcare companies.

One of those is Richard L. Jackson, CEO of Jackson Healthcare, a national group of 25 companies offering medical staffing and running surgery centers that has its headquarters in Atlanta not far from Gingrich’s Center.

Gingrich isn’t the only politician Rick Jackson has been associated with. He gave $9,700 in 2010 to the Georgia gubernatorial campaign of Karen Handel, who lost a runoff for the GOP nomination to Nathan Deal, the ultimate winner. She later was at the center of a firestorm as an executive at the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation when it cut off funding to Planned Parenthood for advocating abortion.

Ironically, when Deal became governor, he appointed Jackson to the Board of Community Health which runs the $12-billion Medicaid, PeachCare for Kids and State Health Benefit Plan that together insure one-fourth of all Georgians. Because of his position on the board, which hasn’t taken a formal stance on the patient’s-compensation proposal, Jackson isn’t commenting publicly about it.

However, he is bankrolling and chairing an advocacy organization called Patients for Fair Compensation. Despite the name, it has no patients as members other than its financial donors.

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