Diverse pleas for political caution


Last week, a caveat about summarily scrapping the Affordable Care Act surfaced from about as unlikely a source as might be imagined.

Former Republican Congressman Phil Gingrey of Marietta was a private-practice physician before his stint in Congress. Now in the employ of the District Policy Group, a Washington lobbying firm, Gingrey authors a blog called “Phil on the Hill.” In his Tuesday, July 11 entry titled “Health Care Bill: Time for Retain, Repair and Revise,” the conservative former lawmaker wrote, “I’ve seen even the most critically ill patients revive, survive and even thrive … Recovery begins when all sides — not just conservative and moderate Republicans, but Democrats as well — come together to create a transparent process with a willingness to examine the best ideas, regardless of their provenance.”

Gingrey cited the Congressional Budget Office prediction that under the proposed House bill some 24 million Americans would likely lose health coverage over the next nine years, and suggested that a better approach would “focus on keeping what works, fixing what is broken and tweaking the areas that need refinement and revision.”

A Georgian should know. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Jim Galloway cited statistics showing that in 2013, suburban Gwinnett County alone had almost three-fourths as many people as 56 counties in south Georgia – and consumed less than one-third as much federal Medicaid money.

Galloway also quoted a letter co-signed by the leaders of the Georgia Hospital Association, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia Association of Family Physicians regarding the disparate impact that repeal of ACA would have on states that have and have not expanded Medicaid coverage: “By 2025, federal Medicaid spending in expansion states will be $1,936 per state resident compared to only $1,158 in non-expansion states,” a difference of 40 percent.

As Galloway himself writes, “It is as a political document that the three-page message is the most remarkable. Never mind Obamacare. Move past ‘repeal and replace.’ Whatever comes next, we just want our fair share. That is the essence of the letter … At bottom, it’s an argument for the survival of rural Georgia.”

That’s not exactly the argument that Gingrey, a Cobb County suburbanite, makes in his blog — but it moves in the same direction and comes to the same conclusion. Political haste and recklessness can have dire human consequences. In the case of health care, life and death consequences.

Ghoul patriarch

Fans of Georgia-produced mega-hit “The Walking Dead” and just about every other sci-fi/horror zombie film or TV series of the last 50 years should be paying tribute today to one innovative filmmaker: George Romero, who died Sunday at 77.

Romero’s 1968 shoestring classic “Night of the Living Dead,” made for less than what one supporting actor’s dressing room would cost today, created the template.

There are a few filmmakers who still know how to scare an audience with imagination and technique rather than just with startle-and-splatter (not that “Living Dead” is for the squeamish). Precious few.

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