Speaker appoints health committee on access to care

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Speaker appoints health committee on access to care

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March 16, 2017, Atlanta - Speaker of the House, David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, speaks to the media during the 2017 legislative session. (DAVID BARNES / SPECIAL)

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston has appointed a committee to examine access to health care. They include high-ranking members of the House and well-known medical professionals with public experience on issues that have plagued Georgians.

The citizen members are all medical professionals:

  • Dr. Yolanda Graham, a child psychiatrist specializing in sexually exploited children
  • Karen Sicard, a respiratory care therapist
  • Dr. Gregory Felzien, an internist and specialist in HIV
  • Dr. Steve Walsh, an anesthesiologist

The House members are:

  • Rep. Sharon Cooper – Chair (R-Marietta)
  • Rep. Karen Bennett (D-Stone Mountain)
  • Rep. Lee Hawkins (R-Gainesville)
  • Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper)
  • Rep. Betty Price (R-Roswell)

The committee was created to “examine public policy related to the quality and availability of health care in Georgia for a broad range of medical conditions.” The legislation creating the committee, House Resolution 240, called out issues including obesity and asthma.

It noted that “disparities in health outcomes are increasingly costly to the state, financially and socially, but are in large part preventable.”

Some of the medical professionals on the committee also have lobbied government on issues. One such issue is Certificate of Need (CON), the regulation that restricts how private companies can cherry-pick the profitable functions of hospitals to open up new businesses and compete with those hospitals, a great concern to rural hospitals.

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