Georgians petition Deal on health reform

By Walter C. Jones
Morris News Service
ATLANTA — Two dozen or so health professionals and advocates delivered 1,000 petitions to Gov. Nathan Deal’s office Monday urging him to drop Georgia’s challenge to the federal health reform law.

At that same moment, Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens was in the Supreme Court during the first day of oral arguments on the constitutionality of the bill. Georgia, represented by Olens, was one of 26 states challenging the law.

The supporters gathered on the statehouse steps described the state’s action in harsh terms.

“We are signing death warrants for people who want health care,” said nurse Brenda Lankford.

Real-estate agent Gwen Jones said that once her health premiums rose to $2,000 per month just to cover herself she had to drop the policy. She couldn’t switch to a more affordable policy, she said, because her pre-existing condition as having diabetic tendencies prevented other companies from offering coverage.

“It was truly devastating, and then I learned there are thousands and thousands of other Georgians, including my peers, are in the same position,” she said.

The law would require insurance companies to take on the risks of insuring anyone who applies, regardless of their health or certainty of medical needs.

Georgians for a Healthy Future, organizers of the petition drive, estimates there are 2 million people in the state without health insurance, either because they have a pre-existing condition or because they can’t afford the premiums.

The 2-year-old federal law championed by President Barack Obama aims to expand access to insurance for those with pre-existing conditions by requiring people in good health to buy policies. The premiums of people with few claims then subsidize the treatment of those with greater medical needs in what amounts to taxing the healthy to give to the unhealthy.

Republicans like Deal and Olens argue the federal government doesn’t have the authority under the U.S. Constitution to require individuals to buy insurance.

After the first day of arguments before the nation’s highest court, Olens refused to speculate on which way the justices were leaning.

Monday’s debate was about whether the court could even decide the case under federal law before the penalties for not buying a policy begin to be issued in two years. A Reconstruction Era law prohibits courts from ruling on the legality of taxes until people begin paying them.

“The lawsuit brought by Georgia and 25 other states is appropriate at this time, and we need not wait until 2014 when the penalties mandated by the president’s federal healthcare plan begin to take effect,” Olens said. “The issues at stake are too significant to delay a decision from our nation’s highest Court.”



More Local

10 Things to Know for Today

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today: 1. POLICE DEPARTMENTS ON ALERT AFTER ... Read More


Movie studio decision could have 'chilling effect'

The planned Christmas Day release of “The Interview,” staring Seth Rogen and James Franco, has been cancelled due to threats of ... Read More


Century-old cemetery discovered

The 100-year-old cemetery discovered by crews clearing land for the Newnan Bypass extension was known to exist in the area, and an archeolog ... Read More


One Roof thrit store reopen Jan. 5 in new location

Friday was One Roof’s last day at its former location in the old Playtex plant on Temple Avenue. The organization's thrift store will ... Read More


Boys & Girls Club

NHS student one of top youths of year

After months of preparation, a Newnan High School student was honored as one of the top youths of the year by the Boys and Girls Club of Met ... Read More

Thousands of lights on display on Hannah Road

It’s hard to miss the Bentons’ Christmas decorations as you’re driving down Hannah Road south of Newnan. The Bentons, who ... Read More